Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cleansing Cole Slaw

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” ― Hippocrates

Don’t you just love summer? Even if you’re busy with work and family, the long, warm days make everything seem just a bit more relaxed and laid back. One of my favorite things about the season is the abundance and variety of produce that nature gifts us with.  The possibilities for flavorful and nourishing dishes are endless.  I like to take old favorites that are traditionally less than healthful and re-imagine them as delicious and nutritious dishes for my family to enjoy.

What summertime picnic would be complete without coleslaw? And the basic ingredient, cabbage, is a nutritional powerhouse. But then, we pile on the not so good stuff – mayonnaise, sugar, and the next thing you know, you’ve got a high-calorie, sugary dish that may not be the best thing to put in your body.

So, here is one of my recipes for coleslaw.  I have different variations of it – sometimes I add nuts and other veggies to the mix, but this is the basic one that I start with. Before I give you the recipe, I’d like to tell you the benefits of each ingredient. I think it’s fun to eat something really yummy and know just exactly how it’s helping you be your healthiest, happiest self.


Very low in calories, cabbage is a good source of dietary fiber, protein, thiamin, vitamins A, C, K, B6 and folate, as well as the minerals calcium, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and manganese.

Translation? Wow, what a food! Cabbage has numerous anticancer and antioxidant compounds. It also strengthens the liver’s ability to detoxify and helps cleanse the digestive tract.

The anthocyanins found in red cabbage (also called purple cabbage) have proven anti-inflammatory properties, which affect collagen and the nervous system, as well as protecting both large and small blood vessels from oxidative damage.
So, what I’m saying is – you need more red cabbage in your life.


Everyone knows that carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene. After all, it’s right there in the name! Now let’s take a closer look. Carrots actually contain vast amounts of other phyto-nutrients, including other carotenoids (especially alpha-carotene and lutein); hydroxycinnamic acids (including caffeic, coumaric, ferulic); anthocyanins (in the case of purple and red carrots); and polyacetylenes (especially falcarinol and falcarindiol).

Just by munching on a carrot, you get a healthy dose of vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, E and K, dietary fiber, niacin, folate and phosphorus.

Do you want healthy eyes, beautiful skin, a strong immune system, good bones, abundant energy, supple arteries and a heart that will keep beating for years and years? I’ve got two words for you: eat carrots.

Good for a lot more than just puckering up your lips, lemons are a superfood packed with vitamins A, B and C, folate, iron, copper, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and anti-oxidants. It might surprise you to know that lemons also contain protein, as well as individual amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. The citric acid in lemon, a natural preservative, aids digestion and helps dissolve kidney stones.

This sour little fruit protects your blood from harmful free radicals, keeps correct fluid balance in the body, maintains healthy skin and mucus membranes, helps protect your from lung and oral cavity cancers, controls heart rate and blood pressure and provides support for good vision.

I squeeze it on everything.


Ginger has long been known to alleviate symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. Do you remember your mom giving you ginger ale for an upset tummy? Well, fresh ginger is a million times better. And you can quote me on that. Ginger has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.  There is also promising research that suggest that gingerols, the main active components in ginger, may inhibit the growth of colorectal cancer cells. And that’s good news for everybody.


You know that lovely little sprig of parsley that decorates your plate? Don’t throw it away, eat it! Here’s why.

Parsley, the plant with the highest anti-oxidant activity, also contains vitamins, minerals, iron and dietary fiber, helps control blood cholesterol levels and prevents constipation. The essential oil in parsley, Eugenol, has been used in dentistry as an antiseptic agent for healthy teeth and gums. Zeaxanthin is the carotenoid in parsley that helps prevent age related macular degeneration, an eye disease that leads to blindness, through its anti-oxidant and ultra-violet light filtering functions. Parsley is one of the herbs richest in vitamin K, which, in addition to promoting bone health, has also established a role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease by its ability to limit neuronal damage in the brain.

Like I said, eat it.

Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is the only kind I use, because it has been shown to be the most beneficial. Mediterranean  diet studies have long associated olive oil intake with decreased risk of heart disease. Now, a group of studies has shown that hydroxytyrosol, one of the key polyphenols in olive oil, helps protect the cells that line our blood vessels from being damaged by overly reactive oxygen molecules. Here’s the fascinating part - hydroxytyrosol helps protect the blood vessel cells by triggering changes at a genetic level, so that the cellular walls of blood vessels strengthen their antioxidant defense system.

Olive oil contains about 75% of its fat in the form of oleic acid (a monounsaturated, omega-9 fatty acid). This means it helps you have a healthy heart, decreases your blood pressure and helps clear your blood of cholesterol. New research has also shown the role of olive oil in protecting against cancers of the breast, and the respiratory and digestive tracts. Olive oil should be eaten raw.

And there you have it. If you’re as eager to eat up all this nutrition as I am, let’s get to the recipe.

Cleansing Coleslaw

1 small head of red cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
8 sprigs of parsley, chopped
small piece of fresh ginger, shredded
freshly squeezed juice of half lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Shred all the vegetables in a food processor. You can also chop them by hand, but that takes quite a bit longer. Mix veggies with lemon juice and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. I like to make this salad and let it sit in the fridge for about 10 minutes, so that the flavors have a chance to blend.

Optional Variations

You can add walnuts, broccoli and garlic for different taste combinations.

Make some soon and let me know what you think!


  1. The ingredients were so few and so little that I doubted it....but it was soooooooooo delicious. The lemon juice added a brightness that you just can't get with vinegar, and it was subtle. The recipe left it to me as to the amount of ginger, so I put in about a teaspoon of grated ginger which proved to be absolutely right. The gingery bite added just the right complement to the cabbage-y bite, leaving it feeling fresh. The whole salad was so tantalizingly fresh and light and tasty. It was such a nice change from the usual mayonnaise dressing that you have to worry about when taking it to a cook-out or picnic, or the expected Asian-fusion sesame, ginger, soy dressing. It was really a delicious surprise. So much more than you'd think from the simple ingredient list.

    1. I'm so glad you tried it and were pleasantly surprised! Sometimes the simple things are the best, don't you think? ;) Please feel free to share this post with your friends, and be sure to check back for more recipes. Thanks for reading!