The recipes I’ve provided today highlight cabbage and tomatoes, two delicious vegetables which happen to not only be some of my favorites, but are also incredibly rich in nutrients and crucial to promoting a healthy lifestyle!
In addition to its piquant flavor and delightful crunch, cabbage is also a key player in cancer prevention, thanks to its high levels of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and glucosinolates (a class of organic compounds found largely in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and, of course, cabbage). Nearly 500 independent studies have examined cabbage’s role in cancer prevention, and indicated effectiveness in reducing rates of a number of different cancers, including bladder, breast, colon, and prostate cancer. Some ongoing research has even looked into cabbage’s suitability as an component of holistic cancer treatment.
Cabbage also has a well-documented ability to aid in the healing of peptic ulcers (ulcers found in the stomach), and its high levels of anti-inflammatory compounds, antioxidants, and amino acids all help to promote a strong and healthy gastrointestinal tract. Compounds derived from glucosinolates can also help regulate healthy bacterial populations inside the gut, keeping them within manageable levels. And as if that isn’t enough, research has consistently demonstrated that cabbage’s fibrous proteins can directly help reduce cholesterol! Steamed cabbage has proven especially effective in this regard.
And what about tomatoes? Readers of my blog will know that I am a huge advocate for tomatoes: Not only are they incredibly versatile and completely scrumptious—I eat fresh cherry tomatoes the way some people eat candy!—but they are incredibly easy to cultivate, and are a rewarding plant for new and experienced gardeners alike.
But that’s not all! Tomatoes are uniquely high in a broad variety of valuable nutrients and antioxidants, including alpha-lipoic acid, lycopene, choline, folic acid, beta-carotene, and lutein. Lycopene has been linked to a reduction in rates of prostate cancer, and also benefits heart health, blood pressure, and many other parts of the body. Folic acid is incredibly beneficial: Apart from its well-documented value to women preparing for or experiencing pregnancy, folic acid plays a role in the prevention of colon cancer, and can also help prevent stomach and pancreatic cancer. Tomatoes are also a rich source of vitamins A and C; A is crucial to both the immune system and maintaining strong eyesight, and C is an antioxidant particularly useful in fighting off free radicals—which both helps reduce the risk of many cancers and mitigate the effects of aging.
So, you can see why I’m such a fan! As far as nutrition and general health go, cabbage and tomatoes both offer a huge bang for your buck. I hope this article inspires you to try my recipes, and to increase the amount of cabbage and tomatoes in your diet! Once you start, you won’t want to look back.
Red Cabbage, Apple, and Carrot Coleslaw
• 3 cups of red cabbage, thinly sliced
• 6 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
• 1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
• ¼ cup of sesame seeds
• 1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger
• ¼ cup of raw apple cider vinegar
• ¾ cup of extra virgin olive oil
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Handful of pecan nuts for garnish
Use a knife or food processor to chop the cabbage, carrots, and apple julienne-style.
Throw your sesame seeds in raw (I like using both black and white sesame seeds for contrast) or toast them lightly in a frying pan.
Toss julienned cabbage, carrots, apple, and sesame seeds together.
For the dressing, combine the ginger, vinegar, and oil and stir with a spoon or whisk.
Add dressing to the cabbage, carrots, and apples evenly.
Top with more sesame seeds (a fantastic source of Calcium!).
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready.
Easy Roasted Cabbage
• 1 green cabbage
• Olive oil
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 375.
Cut cabbage into four to eight equal wedges (depending on the size of the cabbage).
Spread the wedges on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.
Lightly salt and pepper to taste.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until tender and starting to turn slightly golden brown.
Serve warm with a drizzle of fresh lemon juice.
Super Easy Tomato, Garlic, and Basil Salad
• 2 lb. of tomatoes (roughly 3 large), chopped
• 4-5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
• 1 handful of basil, washed and chopped
• Olive oil and high-quality balsamic vinegar (I use Robbins Family Farm—aged 18 years for a real treat!)
• Salt and pepper to taste
Note: In this recipe, you can use any kind of tomato as long as it’s ripe and firm. Grape tomatoes, baby tomatoes, large yellow and red tomatoes—anything will work! (If using large tomatoes, discard the seeds after chopping.)
Combine first three ingredients and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Lightly add salt and pepper to taste.
Let the salad marinate for an hour and serve at room temperature.
We have many wonderful things growing at the Love and Carrots farm. Most, like tomatoes and sage, you’d recognize. But there are a few things you probably wouldn’t know so well. Take the husk cherry. On first inspection its characteristic husks might make you think you’re dealing with tomatillos just starting to form. The confusion stems from the fact that they’re closely related and in the same genus: Physalis. One look down and you’ll know you’re dealing with something else.
Also known as ground cherries, husk cherries fall to the ground right before ripening. They can be gathered and stored with the husks on for up to three months if placed in a mesh bag and kept in a cool place. Of course if you’ve ever tried husk cherries before you definitely won’t be able to wait that long.
Taking the husk off for the first time you’d think you were holding a cherry tomato. That’s not that surprising since husk cherries are nightshades, making them distant relatives to tomatoes. But once you popped one into your mouth a completely different flavor will come to mind.
Yes, its unexpected, but this little gem is like a burst of tropical goodness. Its sweet flavor makes it perfect for pies, jams, or just an afternoon snack. Quite often husk cherries are confused with Cape gooseberries. Really they do look almost exactly the same. Though another member of the genus Physalis, Cape gooseberries are a different species. Still, they’re similar enough where they can be used interchangeably in recipes.
One of the great things about husk cherries is that they’re perfect for home gardens. They continue to produce fruit throughout the season, meaning you’ll continuously have handfuls of them to harvest. Or in the case of husk cherries, gather from the ground. Really the fact that they fall to the ground before ripening makes it easy for any level of gardener to know when they’re ready.
Another reason husk cherries are easy for any level of gardener is that they grow like weeds. This may be why pests and diseases aren’t usually a problem for them. However, they are still susceptible to the same pests and disease as tomatoes and tomatillos. To keep them healthy regular watering and floating row covers should give them an extra level of protection. Another way to give them an edge is to grow them in raised beds to provide the drainage they need.
All these reasons make husk cherries a great plant to grow with Love and Carrots. Not only will harvesting be a breeze, we have all the tools to make sure your crop is a success!
Contributed by Ian Whittington