If you go to any typical, major-chain retail grocery store, the produce section can be divided into two categories. There’s the Normal food and the Weird food (why, yes, as a matter of fact, these categories were created by my husband...how did you know?).
Normal food is stuff like carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, and maybe the broccoli if you’re schooled in that kind of thing. The Weird food is anything spiky, oddly shaped, or rainbow colored. (Again, these categories came from my broccoli-is-also-Weird husband)
But the more time you spend shopping in the Weird food section, the better nutritional value your cooking will have. And one of my all-time favorite Weird foods is napa cabbage. It’s kind of a misnomer since it doesn’t actually refer to the Napa region in California, at least not directly. It’s a throwback to an Asian word meaning “white,” is in white cabbage. That’s also kind of a misnomer since napa cabbage is full of lightly green, curly, crunchy leaves, with a white rib down the middle.
Napa cabbage is the awesome stuff in most Asian stir fry dishes, and it’s also the typical cabbage used for making one of the most common variety of kimchee. But it’s also fantastic cut up in tiny pieces and put in soups to add a little more texture and flavor, and it’s a great leaf to use to make lettuce wraps.
But why is it awesome? It’s one of the very rare negative calorie foods, meaning the calorie count in a one-cup serving has only twenty calories, and you just might burn that many calories chewing it. (Celery is another one of these foods, but napa cabbage offers a lot more nutrition per chew than celery does.) Even though the fiber and protein are fairly low at only one gram each, the vitamin C and vitamin A are outstanding, at 46% and 26% of your daily needs. It also has miniscule amounts of calcium, iron, and magnesium, but every little bit helps. And that’s just in one cup, or maybe two or three leaves?
Expanding into the Weird foods section will not only increase your nutritional intake, but will introduce you to some really tasty foods that can help swap up the food boredom and fight the same-old-thing dinner plate. Browse online for recipes for some of these foods, along with food prep hints and tips.