All About Cabbage

whole and chopped purple and white cabbage

Cabbage is a nutritious and inexpensive vegetable choice. It also tastes great and can be used in many different ways. You can enjoy the spicy taste and crunchy texture of raw cabbage or the sweetness of cooked cabbage. Here are five great ways to have cabbage more often.

Nutritional profile of cabbage

 Here are some good reasons to choose cabbage more often.

  • Cabbage is a source of vitamin C and fibre.

  • Cabbage is low in calories and has no saturated or trans fat.

  • Cabbage contains antioxidants and phytochemicals.

  • Cabbage is a vegetable. Vegetables and fruits should make up half of your meals and snacks.

Try something new

A variety of cabbages grown in Canada are available all year round in the grocery store. Try these in your favourite dishes.

  • Green cabbages are great for soups and stews.

  • Purple cabbages are used often for pickled dishes and salads.

  • Napa cabbage (also called Chinese cabbage) is light green and has crinkled leaves. It’s great for stir-frying.

Buying local cabbage

You can buy local cabbage almost all year long. Look for local cabbage at your grocery store or Farmer’s Market. When you buy local food, you support farmers so they can keep producing high quality, affordable food we can all enjoy.

Buy cabbage at it's best

Here are some tips for buying cabbage.

  • Pre-bagged. Cabbage that is already bagged and shredded can save you time but it can also be more expensive. Remember that even if the package says that the cabbage is “pre-washed,” you should rinse it with cold water before eating. Use by the best before date.

  • Head of cabbage. Choose cabbage that seems firm and heavy for its size, with fresh, crisp-looking leaves that are tightly packed and aren’t wilting or blemished.

 Tips for storing cabbage

  • Wrapped tightly in plastic, a head of cabbage will keep for about two weeks in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.

  • Once cut, use cabbage within 2-3 days.

  • Cover and refrigerate cooked cabbage within two hours of cooking and use within 3-5 days.

  • If the cabbage is part of mixed dish like cabbage rolls, store covered in the fridge and use within 3-4 days.

  • Freeze fresh or cooked cabbage in airtight containers or freezer bags for 10-12 months.

Tips for cooking cabbage

  • Remove outer leaves and rinse cabbage well.

  • To keep cabbage fresh, don’t cut it until just before you use it. 

  • To shred cabbage, cut the head into four quarters and cut out the hard stalk in the middle. Cut each quarter into fine shreds.

  • You can microwave, shred, pickle, bake, steam, stir-fry or boil cabbage.

5 things to do with cabbage

1. Basic steamed cabbage

Here’s how to make a basic side dish of steamed cabbage.

  1. In a wide pan, add 2 tbsp (30 mL) each non-hydrogenated margarine or butter and water. Bring to a boil.

  2. Add 5-6 cups (1.25 to 1.5 L) shredded cabbage. Cook for a few minutes. Serves 4.

2. Coleslaw with a twist

Coleslaw is an easy, make-ahead salad with shredded cabbage and a vinaigrette or creamy dressing. The variations are endless. Try these tasty additions to your favourite coleslaw recipe:

  • Add fruit: orange segments, julienned (matchstick size) apple or pear, canned pineapple tidbits, or grape halves.

  • Mix in other vegetable combinations. Try shredded jicama, peppers or beets.

  • For lower-fat creamy coleslaw, replace mayonnaise with low-fat yogurt. 

Coleslaw will keep for about 3 days in an airtight container stored in the fridge. It’s great for packed lunches!

3. Fresh spring rolls

Enjoy tasty restaurant-style “fresh” (not fried) spring rolls at home. Use cabbage leaves as your wrapper or look for egg-roll wrappers in the grocery store freezer section.

1. Prepare the fillings. One-quarter cup of filling is enough for each 22-cm (8 inch) spring roll wrapper. Try a combination of:

  • Shredded cabbage and carrots

  • Leftover meat like cooked chicken, tofu, cooked shrimp, or sliced omelette

  • Cooked rice noodles tossed with a small amount of rice wine vinegar

  • Herbs like chopped mint, cilantro or basil

2. Add filling to wrappers and fold up like burritos (follow package instructions).  

3. Serve with peanut sauce.

Make-ahead tip: Wrap fresh spring rolls in a dampened paper towel and place in an airtight container for up to 6 hours. Cut in half before serving.

 4. Quick veggie-noodle salad

Enjoy this salad in the winter when crispy fresh greens are not in season. It’s also great when you need to feed a large group or use up leftover pasta.

  1. Toss cooked whole-wheat pasta with prepared peanut sauce.

  2. Add broccoli florets, shredded cabbage and carrots.

  3. Add protein (tofu, chickpeas, leftover cooked meat, poultry, sliced omelette, or cooked shrimp).

  4. Top with chopped cilantro or green onions.

 5. Soup

Chunky vegetable soup is a delicious and satisfying way to warm up on a winter day. It’s also great for using up leftovers. Try diced cabbage in almost any soup recipe.

Try these soup and cabbage recipes:

Red Cabbage and Pasta Soup with Beans
Minestrone Soup

Other cabbage recipes to try:

My Grandma’s Beet Soup
Ontario Winter Vegetable Soup
Cabbage Rolls

How can a dietitian help?

A dietitian can support you throughout many phases of your life from pregnancy to eating well when you are older. Counselling sessions with a dietitian can also help you to prevent and treat health conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Your dietitian will work with you to give you personalized advice that meets your lifestyle and goals. Connect with a dietitian today!

Bottom line

Cabbage is a nutritious and versatile choice to add to meals and snacks. Enjoy it raw or cooked for an extra boost of vitamin C and fibre.

You may also be interested in:

Are Fermented Foods Good For Me?
All About Dark Leafy Greens
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Top 5 Reasons to See a Dietitian
This article was written and reviewed by dietitians from Dietitians of Canada. The advice in this article is intended as general information and should not replace advice given by your dietitian or healthcare provider.

Last Update – February 19, 2023

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