One of my absolute favorite parts about being a health coach is that I get to do experiments with food on a seemingly daily basis. Last week, a client of mine decided she wanted to delve into the Keto mindset around food and create dishes that were lower in total carbs. I took this as an invitation to try some new recipes and write some blogs about the keto concept. This cabbage stir fry was absolutely delicious, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Before we can talk about the recipe, let’s get a basic understanding of what Keto means. The Keto diet centers upon the idea of eating low amounts of carbohydrates so that our bodies burn ketones for energy. Ketones are produced when our bodies directly break down stored body fat for energy. The idea is that if our bodies don’t have carbs as a primary source of fuel, it will begin to burn body fat as a direct form of energy essentially making our bodies work for us when it comes to fat loss.
I am not pro or anti keto. I encourage people to experiment with different styles of eating, and once they find what works, sticking to it. Keto has been both celebrated and demonized in the media because it’s true nature has been morphed. Mark Sisson, one of the current spokespeople of keto ideology, promotes keto in the form of eating whole, real foods. This initial concept of eating whole and real foods during keto has been twisted through the years and people have made keto into this macronutrient counting phenomenon, dispelling conventional wisdom about calories, micronutrients, fiber, etc. Now, it’s gotten to the point where people are putting mayo on Spam, slapping it between two slices of cheese, and calling it a healthy keto-sandwich.
I think it’s safe to say we have gotten lost from what keto was supposed to be. I’ll delve more into keto in another blog. Now, it’s time to learn about this cabbage stir fry!
For this recipe, I used what I had left in the fridge from the previous week. I bought a head of Nappa cabbage two weeks ago for a salad that I was craving and had only used ⅓ of it. I love cabbage for many reasons, but the biggest reason may be because it stays good in the fridge for weeks! Beyond that, cabbage is high in vitamins K, C, and B6, and is also high in fiber which your gut will love (CLICK HERE to see all about the nutrition of cabbage). Really, any vegetables will go well in this type of stir fry, especially root veggies. The onions and carrots I had were at the point where they had to be used today, or turned into soup stock tomorrow. And, as with many facets of life, this recipe is all about the sauce.
For this dish, I went with one of my go-to sauces. Hoisin, soy, and lime juice is a wonderful combination that does well with many food combinations. In fact, I use this same combination along with peanut butter to make my signature peanut dipping sauce for spring rolls. Keep in mind that hoisin sauce is high in sugar, so be mindful and remember that a little sauce can go a long way. You can also add a small amount of sesame oil to thicken this sauce without adding more hoisin (and limiting sugar). The possibilities are truly endless.
Let’s get into the details!
1 TBSP Hoison Sauce
2 TBSP Soy Sauce (low sodium if you have it)
Juice from half a lime
2 pinches of black pepper
*OPTIONAL* 1 TBSP Hot sauce (Sriracha works great)
*OPTIONAL* ½ TBSP sesame oil (add last if you do, helps thicken sauce)
Stir Fry Ingredients
1/2 Head cabbage shredded (I recommend green cabbage or Napa cabbage)
2 Carrots, diced
3/4 White Onion, diced
4 Green onions, chopped
3 + cloves of fresh garlic, minced (the more the merrier, honestly…)
1 TBSP ginger, grated or powdered
1 pound Protein (Ground bison or chicken thighs are my favorites, they have a high-fat content which is GREAT for Keto! I made this dish with ground tofu that resembled ground beef)
*OPTIONAL ADDITIONAL VEGGIES - Broccoli, cauliflower, snap peas, green beans, peppers, etc. The more the merrier!
*OPTIONAL GARNISH - More hot sauce, cilantro, crushed peanuts, chives, more lime juice.
*OPTIONAL ADDITIONS - This dish is great served over a bed of greens (keto) or with rice (definitely NOT keto). Also great by itself!!
Cabbage Stir Fry. Excellent served over a bed of Spring Mix.
Start by chopping and cutting all the vegetables and chicken thighs (if using). When cooking, my best advice is to prep everything first, then start. Put all ingredients for the sauce except for the sesame oil into a bowl and mix well. Then add the sesame oil LAST, and mix again until thoroughly mixed. We add oils to sauces LAST because the lipids will bind to whatever they are mixed with, so this makes your sauce more smooth and consistent.
Heat a nonstick pan to medium heat. If no nonstick pan is available, put 1/2 TBSP of cooking oil (like peanut/avocado/vegetable) in the pan as it heats up. Add the meat and garlic first and cook for about 3-4 minutes, until it starts to brown. I like to use the juices from the meat to cook with which is why using a nonstick pan is so great. Next, add the ginger and carrots, cook for another 2-3 minutes. Finally, add the onions, cabbage, and any other veggies, and continue to cook for about 3-5 more minutes, until the meat is fully cooked and the cabbage is al dente. Put stir fry into a bowl, garnish on top, and enjoy!
As you can see, I am all about options and flexibility in the kitchen. No matter what ingredients you use, this is an awesome recipe that keeps very well in the fridge. I usually make a large portion, using a pound of protein, so I have leftovers. Let me know what you think if you try it out!
***P.S. PRO TIP*** You can do this EXACT recipe and swap out the cabbage for spiraled veggies! You could do sweet potatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, etc. This Asian inspired sauce will work with MANY different combinations 🙂