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5 Healthier St. Patrick’s Day Foods

March 12, 2013
This St. Patty's? why not try these 5 healthier, festive picks?

If the thought of artificially dyed bagels, cupcakes and beer makes you feel a little, er, green, you’re in luck: we’ve found five festive, Clean Plates-approved choices for St. Patty’s.

Cabbage. Boiled? No need! For a real treat, ferment it into sauerkraut—your cabbage will come alive with gut-friendly nutrients, enzymes and probiotics. Try our easy recipe for Home-Fermented Sauerkraut (below), from The Clean Plates Cookbook. The cruciferous veggie can help prevent cancer, support the digestive tract, is anti-inflammatory, and packed with vitamin K, vitamin C and antioxidants.

Organic potatoes. The traditional tubers are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, copper, potassium, manganese, and fiber. But no matter how you cook them, it’s important to avoid conventionally grown potatoes. These root vegetables are heavily sprayed, says Clean Plates founder Jared Koch, so they may contain a lot of pesticides and fungicides.

Dark beer. You can give in to a Guinness. Dark beer actually beats pale beer in iron (an essential mineral that helps carry oxygen to our blood cells) and antioxidants (which help reverse cellular damage). It also absorbs more slowly into the bloodstream, making it less disturbing to your blood sugar level.

Corned beef. If you want to indulge in a little corned beef, which is a source of iron, protein, zinc and B vitamins, make sure it’s sustainable, organic or, ideally, from a grass-fed cow, which tends to be lower in fat and higher in vitamin E. Remember, though, that if you buy corned beef pre-made, the curing process means it may contain nitrates and higher levels of sodium than plain beef.

Green veggies and fruits. Nothing brightens a St. Patty’s Day plate more than greens: kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, parsley, cilantro, collards, even kiwis. Eat your greens, and lots of them.

Home-Fermented Sauerkraut

from The Clean Plates Cookbook

Makes 4 to 5 cups

10 tsp. fine sea salt, divided (see below)
2 lbs. green cabbage, cored and shredded finely
1 to 2 Tbsp. flavoring ingredients (see below)

In a bowl or measuring cup, combine 5 teaspoons of the salt with 4 cups of lukewarm water, stirring to dissolve the salt. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, in large mixing bowl, combine the cabbage, the remaining 5 teaspoons of salt, and flavoring ingredients, if you like, stirring to thoroughly combine. Transfer to a large, nonreactive container, packing it down. Let stand for 15 minutes, so the cabbage can release some of its juices.

Check to see if the juices are enough to cover the cabbage. If not, add enough of the salt water mixture to cover. Cover the top of the cabbage with a double layer of cheesecloth, tucking it in at the edges. Set a plastic, glass, or ceramic plate on top of the cabbage, ideally one that fits just inside the container, to keep the cabbage submerged. Place something heavy on top of the plate, such as a bowl or a lidded jar filled with water. Cover the entire setup loosely with a clean kitchen towel and set it aside in a cool place (no warmer than 75°F) for 3 to 6 weeks, checking the sauerkraut a few times a week to skim any foam from the surface and rinse the plate. When the bubbling stops, the fermentation is complete and the sauerkraut is done, although you can taste it any time during the process, and if it’s done to your liking, it’s done.

Transfer the sauerkraut to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator.

While our preference is for you to always use fine sea salt, in this recipe it’s especially important—”regular” or iodized table salts have additives that can affect the fermentation process.

Ways to Flavor Your Sauerkraut

Although it’s not necessary to add any flavoring ingredients, if you like, you can add 1 to 2 tablespoons of whole spices, just one or a combination. Here are a few ideas:

• Peppercorns
• Juniper berries
• Caraway, fennel, cumin, coriander, dill, celery, or anise seeds
• Bay leaves
• Cinnamon sticks
• Whole cloves or allspice

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