Fun Food Friday: Stuffed Cabbage Rolls


This is not a Jamaican Dish, but more a cheap healthy and delicious dish to make with ingredients that are fairly cheap here.   This recipe is adapted from the Book “We Love Your Body”  which I really enjoyed reading.

Large Head of Cabbage

Onion

Tomatoes or tomato sauce, or both

Rice or quinoa (any type of grain will work, even roast rood veggies (but they will not stay in the roll as well.

Herbs and spices

Oil

Protein source, Chicken, veggie mince, beans, whatever floats your boat, I do not think fish will work though.

Nutritional Yeast or cheese if desired.

Nuts or seeds if desired

Various veggies such at carrot, zucchini and whatever you think will mix well in your grain with a tomato sauce.

First you have to cut the core out of cabbage to ease the removal of leaves.    I like to pull the leaves out and soak in salt water to ensure no extra Protein sources are hiding in the leaves.  If you want you can blanch the the leaves with a quick dip in boiling water for about 1.5 minutes.  Otherwise you can just choose to roll the raw leaves, blanching just makes the rolling easier.

Cook up your grains.  I am a meal prepper so I prep this type of stuff up ahead of time and it almost always ready to go.  Season and add cooked protein along with sauteed veggies as desired.  Mix all ingredients together but not the sauce or cheese/nutritional yeast.  The seeds can go in at this time, they add a nice little crunch to the dish at the end.  You can also use them as garnish when serving.

Once everything is mixed nicely you can start stuffing the rolls.  First you must oil your baking dish or lay down parchment paper.  Hold cabbage leave curve side up. If leaves re too inflexible you can blanche them for a few minutes to soften the large vein down the middle.  Fill with about 1/4 cup of filling, for smaller leaves fill so that you can roll them nicely and they end up like a little burrito.  Lay the rolled leaf face down in baking dish.  (The side that the leaves are loose will go face down, if your leaf is too small use a secondary leaf to ensure filling stays in.  Continue to fill leaves until your dish is full.  and nicely laid out.  The idea is to be able to put a spatula or flipper under the rolls individually to serve them.

Once your rolls are ready you can prepare the sauce.  Even if I actually use a prepared sauce, I typically spruce it up with more veggies finely diced and herbs.  Now cover the rolls by spooning sauce evenly over them.  They do not need to be completely covered unless you love extra sauce, but it makes it much harder to serve that way.  (If you like extra sauce, save some to cover after plating.)

I have a gas stove that I have no idea how hot it gets but for argument sake, 350 degrees.  Light that bad boy up and put your dish in the oven.  Because I have no idea how hot mine actually is, I keep a pretty good eye on it.  I check it after 30 minutes, but around 45 is when I add the cheese/nutritional yeast.  Finish off by allowing the cheese to melt/toast up.

The rolls are super hot when you first pull them out, I suggest waiting a few minutes, more like 15 minutes to allow them to cool some before plating and eating.  As a side note you can prevent the sauce from getting too dry by covering with foil while cooking.

Fun Food Fridays: Tofu Cabbage Wraps with Peanut Sauce


Since Monday I have cut out gluten, dairy, alcohol and added sugar from my diet.  This recipe falls nicely within those parameters.  It is also cabbage season here in Jamaica and cabbage is readily available and cheap right now.

Tofu cabbage wraps/salad

Modified from Eating Well Magazine recipe:

Peanut Sauce Ingredients:

Peanut butter, less sugar better, you can grind your own peanuts into a chunky paste.

salt

garlic

scallion

vinegar (I prefer rice wine vinegar)

liquid aminos (soy sauce)

hot sauce or scotch bonnet

Add all liquid ingredients about (except hot sauce) a 1:1 ratio

salt, garlic and scallion are added to taste.

Hot sauce or scotch bonnet added to taste.

Sesame oil if you like just enough.

This sauce can be jarred and put in refrigeration for up to a week. The longer it sits the thicker and better it tastes. I use this sauce for salads or for stirfrys as well.

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Salad Ingredients:

Oil (coconut is best)

Cabbage (1 head whole for wraps)

scallion or onion

tofu or chicken/fish

carrot

cucumber

dark lettuce greens or herbs (basil and cilantro are fantastic) sliced into ribbons. (Cilantro or parsely finely chopped.

Additions for the creative:

Sweet peppers

mushroom

shrimp

celery

small bok choy

any other rawish vegetable

Prepare:

Wraps:

I take the cabbage and cut around the core to ease the removal of whole leaves.  By cutting away the core in a hexagonal shape you create an easier to peel head of cabbage.   The leaves do not rip if pulled slowly from the bottom and the sides are loosened from the head as you lift the bottom.  Once removed rinse and drain.  If the cabbage is too tough to eat raw you can blanche it for a few moments.

Thinly slice the cucumber, scallion, carrots and other veg you choose.  If you use a vegetable peeler you get lovely thin slices.

Ribbon the lettuce or basil, finely chop any herbs.

Cut tofu or fish or chicken into nice sized strips. Saute in oil, I like coconut oil for this. Cook well.

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Set up plate of chopped veg and allow tofu or meat to cool to handling temperature. Gather ingredients and set into cabbage leaf. Top with peanut sauce and herbs or lettuce, roll cabbage to hold for eating.

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Enjoy!

For salad, simply dice up the cabbage and mix the ingredients to taste and top with peanut sauce and herbs or lettuce ribbons. Top with crushed peanuts for an added crunch.

Changing our food system will take changing our perspective.


I was considering the idea that Americans as a rule, love to spend big money on things like coffee and alcohol, but in general food is viewed as too expensive.  This is a crazy perspective.  Are we truly willing to pay nearly $5 for a cup of coffee with no nutritional value yet balk at paying $5 for 3 apples?  How about when we go shopping, do we run to the aisle with the hamburger helper at $1.99 a box or do we go buy all the ingredients to make a pasta dish from scratch?

I often hear that food is so expensive, yet we pay over $4 for gas and no one complains anymore.  Are we more concerned about the cost of food because it is vital to our very being? Or are we so used to cheap industrial food, that food with a genuine cost to it shocks us silly?  I think it is a combination of both.  Had we never industrialized the food system, we would have been paying a genuine price for the last half a century. We would expect a handful of carrots to cost $5 and a bag of Doritos to cost $15.  No really, junk food should be charged according to it’s health benefit.  If Doritos cost me $15 a bag, I would probably only buy them once a month as a treat instead of once a day or every other day.  If soda cost $3 a serving, and I mean an 8oz serving, would it likely not be in every kid’s daily diet?  Would we balk at the cost of a gallon of milk if soda cost that much?  Probably not.  Nor would we be facing an obesity epidemic.

Taking it even further, maybe each one of us every meal should stop and think about the ingredients in our food.  From the lettuce that was trucked up from Mexico, hey yeah Mexico.  You know the place where all the illegal immigrants keep sneaking across our boarder to steal our jobs.  Oh you know those jobs picking fruit for pennies per pound.  The jobs that we so desperately seek are being stolen by those dirty immigrants. (Please take a moment to recognize satire here.)  Yeah those same dirty immigrants that grew your lettuce back home in Mexico.  The lettuce that should have come from a farmer close to you.  One that would participate in your economy.  Not some dirty foreigner that will just keep your money in his country.  See how absurd our food system is.  We expect cheap food, which perpetuates the immigration problems, which perpetuate the economic downfall, which increases cheap food.  Oh the vicious circle.  Can we ever escape?  Can we ever look at food with satisfaction and not fear again?  Of course you can.  You just need to not only respect your body, but your community and the local people that grow food for you.  Buck up and pay a bit more for fresh, and I mean fresh produce, poultry, meat and dairy.  Find a farm you can get fresh eggs from.  How about a dairy where you can buy fresh milk from.   Sure I still want imported cheese and wine, but I am willing to make that a treat.  That is something I splurge on.

Keeping on a budget is not as hard as most people think when it comes to food.  By focusing on what is in season, and what is local, you can get better deals and your body actually craves things that are in season.  In the winter I love root veggies and squash along with some lentils and mushrooms and not to be left out greens.  In the spring I go nuts for asparagus and fresh peas.  Oh and the baby spinach.  Summertime is for the fresh berries and fruits along with bruschetta.  Oh my, my mouth is watering.  Just thinking about the foods that we can cycle.  I love July in Seattle.  I can ride my bike around and find trucks camped out along the way selling fresh cherries and peaches.  Oh the joy of the first peach on the summer is quite extraordinary.

Again I ask, can you evolve your mind to walk past the cheap food and move onto real food.  Securing your own community economy, saving fossil fuel and the land are just a few of the benefits.  The number one benefit is that your health may just well improve.

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Creating your own pasta Sauce. Innovation is the key!


Ok at the end of the rent week paycheck, pickings are slim.  Less than $10 to get us to the end of the week, this is including the weekly bin of veggies I get that arrive on Wednesday.  On my way home I was thinking about what to cook.  I knew I had some roasted red peppers in the fridge, so I thought ok how about some pasta some tomatoes those peppers some onions garlic and the field roast that my lovely boys gave me.   (My boys, the couple that took me in when I was going to be homeless for a month, then they took my significant other in as a roommate two months ago!  I have never had such wonder friends in all my life.  In fact I would do anything for them, even sacrifice my own life to save theirs. A friendship like that is never to be minimized.)  Field Roast, my one processed food weekness, ok so are canned tomatoes, but I buy organic with limited ingredients.   Field roast is a vegetarian lentil loaf, it comes in many flavors and shapes, most often bologna or wiener shaped.  My boys had a package in the freezer, they told me to take home and throw it out if it was no longer good.  Tastes fine to me!

I ended up having to reroast some yellow peppers, I added a portabella to that and half an onion.   I minced all these up with some goat cheese. wait, the field roast was just sliced and sauteed, but the rest made a wonderful sauce.  In the end we will also steam up a couple of artichokes.  I will whip up some butter and garlic dip and we will have the fanciest cheap dinner ever.  😀