By Jen Miller, Cooking Program Coordinator
The Doctor Yum kitchen was the scene of an exciting showdown this week, the Cabbage Soup Showdown. It began innocently enough, with a head of cabbage. You see, I love to learn why certain foods are so good for our bodies, nutritionally and also from the perspective of food energetics, the Traditional Chinese Medicine view that food is medicine used to nourish and balance the body, mind, and spirit. However, the cabbage was a challenge for me. Growing up, the only exposure I had to cabbage was in the form of the sauerkraut and hot dogs my grandfather would make, and use to thoroughly stink up the house. As a child I was a very selective eater, with a big dose of stubborn thrown in, and unfortunately the Doctor Yum Project was not around quite yet. I was convinced that I didn’t like it because of the smell and how it looked. I can honestly say I don’t think I ever even tasted it.
My relationship with cabbage started off pretty rocky, but thanks to my role in the Doctor Yum Kitchen, I have the opportunity to change that! After doing my research, I learned that cabbage is a quiet rock star in the vegetable world. It’s high in vitamin C, many B vitamins and contains 85% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin K. It’s also rich in minerals like potassium, calcium and manganese. It’s very low on the Glycemic Index (only 26). It contains a lot of water, and even some omega 3 and omega 6 fats. Convinced yet? It’s also very, very budget friendly. A head of cabbage will cost you less than $3.00!
From a TMC perspective, cabbage draws excess fluids from the body, especially from joints that are stiff and sore. It improves circulation in the organs as well, facilitating digestion and increased metabolism. Cabbage is naturally high in glutamine, which is an amino acid often used by athletes as a post workout supplement. If the science hasn’t convinced you, I think the recipes will!
During kitchen hours, in an attempt to make friends with cabbage, I used the following basic recipe in the crockpot. At the end of the day, I grabbed a tasting spoon and with great anticipation of a brand new, super healthy friend to add to my weekly crock pot rotation, I tasted. And made a face. The broth was boring. The spices lacked that “Yum factor” that we look for in new recipes. I grabbed another spoon and this time fished out some of the cabbage. Wow. Now there was the Yum! The cabbage somehow managed to stay crunchy and melt in my mouth at the same time. I knew I was on the right track! Wendy Cannon, the Doctor Yum Preschool Curriculum Coordinator, Heidi DiEugenio, Doctor Yum Project Board Member and Dr. Fernando aka Doctor Yum, all happen to be in the kitchen for a meeting that day. They all sampled and agreed that it had potential but needed some more love (and other ingredients) to make it worthy of the Doctor Yum Project website. This is where the Cabbage Soup Showdown began. We divided the soup into portions and each of the expert tasters took a batch home to modify and serve for dinner. That same night they recorded their additions, and excitedly texted each other their results and pictures!I decided to give each of our team members a portion to see how they could take this basic soup and make it their own. See below to see how our team customized the basic recipe to make it their own.