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healthy recipes : vegan cabbage rolls

Since we’re on the topic of cabbage and you’ve invested all of your $1.50 for a head of cabbage, you might as well know what else you can do with that big leafy ball of goodness*. Not only will these recipes rescue two days (yes two, because when you make these, you go for a big batch), but you will also find out just how actually healthy cabbage is. Because, although cabbage gets a bad reputation out there, you don’t need to love it ~ but just like it enough to occasionally make it for your family in the form of comfort food and good nutrition. (see below)

Vegan Cabbage Rolls

vegan and gluten-free
great to make ahead and reheat the next day or freeze for up to 3 months

Ingredients :

  • large head of cabbage
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 bag or measure 1 1/2 cups of TSP
    Bob’s Red Mill Organic TSP (textured soy protein) Bob’s Red Mill Organic TSP
  • 1 cup buckwheat or rice, cooked separately and drained
  • 1 celery stalk, diced or shredded
  • 2 large carrots, shredded
  • 1 jar of organic canned tomatoes (or a jar of spaghetti sauce but then don’t add the spices or salt)
  • 1 sm can of tomato paste
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram or dried oregano
  • 1 tsp of thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • water
  • olive oil for cooking


Directions :

First you need to cut into the cabbage and remove the core.In large pot with boiling salted water, cover and cook the cabbage for 8-10 minutes or until leaves are softened. Chill in cold water until it’s no longer hot and it becomes easy to handle. Carefully remove about 10 – 12  leaves, returning cabbage to pan for 2 to 3 minutes if leaves become difficult to remove. Cut off coarse veins and set aside. (The leaves inside near the centre of the cabbage, will be too small to peel off and use for wrapping, but you can still use them up in this dish. Cut them thinly and set aside. We will use them in the base of the pan later.)

In a medium pot, set the buckwheat or rice  (or a mix of both grains) to boil in hot water to cook as per instructions.

Filling: In a large saucepan, heat the oil and cook the onion, garlic, and spices. Cook until the onions turn golden but not burned. Add in carrots and celery and cook for a few minutes. Add in the TSP with water as it will absorb a lot of water immediately. Adjust heat to low-medium. Add in 3/4 of the tomatoe sauce and just enough water so it doesn’t stick to the pan. Continue by adding in the buckwheat and/ or rice, stir well, cover and cook for about 5 minutes to let the flavours absorb.

To assemble: Line a large baking dish with the chopped up cabbage that was reserved with some of the tomato sauce.  To make the rolls, spoon about 2-3 tablespoons of the filling onto each leaf just above the stem. Fold in bottom and the sides over the filling and roll up. Arrange the cabbage rolls neatly so they hold together better, you can do two layers.  Cover with remaining tomato sauce and whisked tomato paste. Cover with lid or foil and bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for 1 hour.

Alternatively, here is an adjustment to the recipe if you want Vegetarian Cabbage Rolls:

These are also gluten-free and vegan; vegetarian nonetheless. The variation here is really simple, instead of the TSP, there’s more veggies. Adding 1 more carrot and 2 small zucchinis will make a nice filling. Mushrooms would also be a good add on- however, I don’t eat any mushrooms on the ACD (anti-candida diet), so if you follow my diet, you’d know that any mushrooms are not allowed ;) I still suggest this version though because not everyone needs the restrictions. I also really do prefer making these with the organic soy protein as it’s a great source of protein and without it in this dish, you’re missing the most valuable food source and just filling up.

I must say that these are a lot easier to do than you think. Best of all, they are better the next day and stay fresh (with even more flavour) up to three days. So it’s great to make a big batch and just reheat on a busy week. You can freeze smaller portions also for a quick emergency meal. Delicious!

I do hope you like cabbage by now ;) It’s really a great, versatile, health-boosting and very inexpensive vegetable. Here is the *goodness* I’ve mentioned above:

Health benefits of : Cabbage – ‘the drug of the poor’

There are many types of cabbage which is a leafy green vegetable, enriched with several vital nutrients like vitamins C, E,K, A, iron, folic acid, magnesium, sulfur, manganese and potassium, all accountable for their healing properties and is the most consumed vegetable in the world. It does not contain cholesterol and the harmful saturated fats and is very low in calories.

The Cabbage comes from the family Brassicaceae with other important member such as Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli and Kale. Cabbage is one of the cheapest and most readily available vegetable, through out the world with the green cabbage being the most common.

Cabbage leaves have been used for relieving inflammation with modern  studies  revealing its effectiveness in lowering the risk of several types ofcancer including cancer of the colon and stomach. Cabbage has excellent detoxifying properties which purifies the blood by eliminating unwanted toxins. Fresh cabbage juice has also been found to be very effective for healing stomach or peptic ulcers due to the high sulfur content of cabbage, which is required by the body in order to fight infections.

Sulfoaphane is a chemical compound found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and Cabbages that is thought to function by stimulating the production of enzymes in the body detoxifying cancer causing substances, along with photonutrients in red cabbage that can protect the brain cells from free radical damages that cause aging. Other important health benefits of cabbage are providing relief from constipation, improving vision, lowering cholesterol, prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and inhibiting growth of tumours.

Vitamin K found in the cabbage is known for its role in the process of blood clotting with the most healthbenefits in weight loss. With so many health benefits, there is little doubt as to why this vegetable was termed the ‘drug of the poor’ in the middle ages. There are very few vegetables enriched with so many vital nutrients andhealth benefits. (source)

ps. I have a funny story that came from my friend and it involves cabbage in a very interesting way. Her mother in law slipped on some ice and hurt her shoulder badly. They applied ~ guess what? – cabbage to the injured area as it apparently relieves pain and swelling. But the pain persisted and they went to the ER that evening – forgetting to take out the leaves. LOL. Well, you can just imagine how they became quite the event in the ER clinic. The nurses then the doctor, then another doctor as they felt this was very amusing all gathered and chuckled at the ‘silliness’. Oh that poor family suffered immense embarrassment…. I really felt for them, although I was also laughing till my stomach hurt when my friend was telling me all of this….

The moral of the story? It turns out they knew something…. Read here how the cabbage really does help to treat pain and swelling and is sworn as an affective treatment for minor discomfort, pain and injury.

Do you cook with cabbage? What are your favourite recipes with it?

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