Loving the BITE: Best-Ever Cabbage Slaw for Delicious Tacos
Seriously, is there really anything better than a great taco? I mean really. These are the important questions in life. And my answer right now (I’m hungry): No, there’s not.
And, while I grew up on, and still love the classic ground beef, beans, cheese variety, my taco-tastes have changed a bit.
Every year, we road trip it to Southern California. And every year, we make it our priority to find the best fish tacos. So, I’ve been inspired of late by the fresh tastes of cabbage in my tacos. Fresh vegetables, no cheese, and a great shell. Since these fresh flavors go so well with fish, why not with carne asada or chicken? Or, replace the animal proteins with vegetarian fair such as beans in place of meat.
It doesn’t matter. It’s all delicious goodness when you place anything in a shell with this cabbage recipe. And, the best part? Its ingredients have something to offer cyclists beyond the taste buds.
Recipe of the Week: Green Cabbage Slaw for Delicious Tacos
- 2 cups shredded green cabbage, chopped
- 1 avocado
- 1-2 tsp chili powder
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- Salt, to taste
- Cilantro, chopped.
Place cabbage in a bowl. Mash in avocado. Stir in lime juice & chili pepper. Salt to taste.
Place in taco shell with meat and chopped cilantro.
See bonus recipe below for “homemade” fried taco shells.
Taco Meat Ideas:
- Carne Asada Meat with cabbage & cilantro.
- Chicken seasoned with lime juice & cumin. Place in taco with cabbage & cilantro.
- Baked white fish (such as tilapia). Place in taco with cabbage mix & cilantro.
There are a few nutrition all-stars in this recipe. Chili powder for example. Limes. Cilantro.
But that’s not what we’re talking about today. Here’s what one of my food-favorites has to offer. Avocados, baby!
The short list:
- Carotenoids: When I think of carotenoids, I usually think of carrots and other orange or red vegetables. However, avocados are a great source (as is our other green friend, spinach link tohttp://lovingthebike.com/cycling-nurition/loving-the-bite-green-berry-smoothie). In fact, they contain a spectacular array of carotenoids including beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein, neochrome, neoxanthin, chrysanthemaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and violaxanthin. And just like spinach, many of these carotenoids directly support eye health. It’s this diverse and vast array of carotenoids that researchers believe is responsible for much of an avocado’s anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Carotenoid Absorption: Recent research has shown that absorption of two key carotenoid antioxidants, lycopene and beta-carotene, increases significantly when fresh avocado (or avocado oil) is added to otherwise avocado-free vegetables, such as in a salad. One cup of fresh avocado (150 grams) added to a salad of romaine lettuce, spinach, and carrots increased absorption of carotenoids from this salad between 200-400%. This research result makes perfect sense to us because carotenoids are fat-soluble and would be provided with the fat they need for absorption from the addition of avocado. Avocado oil added to a salad accomplished this same result. Interestingly, both avocado oil and fresh avocado added to salsa increased carotenoid absorption from the salsa as well. Another reason to eat guacamole – avocados and tomatoes equal carotenoid absorption euphoria. I really like guacamole.
- Healthy Fats: Like other sources of healthy fats, avocados have been villianized as “fattening” in recent history (most fat storage issues have to do with an over-consumption of carbs, not fats!). While it’s true that they are 85% fat, the fats provide many health benefits. They are heart healthy, anti-inflammatory, and they promote healthy blood sugars.
- Anti-inflammatory Factors: First, the phytosterols that account for a major portion of avocado fats (including beta-sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol), are key supporters of our inflammatory system that helps keep inflammation under control. The anti-inflammatory benefits of these avocado fats are particularly well-documented with problems involving arthritis. Next, avocado’s polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PFAs), which are abundant in ocean plants but fairly unique among land plants, provide us with anti-inflammatory benefits. Third, the high amount of oleic acid (over ½ of the total fat in an avocado) helps our digestive tract form transport molecules for fat that can increase our absorption of fat-soluble nutrients while decreasing inflammation.
- Fiber: Fiber is one key to overall wellness and discourages most all chronic diseases. One-half cup of avocado provides 3-4 grams of fiber (and only 1 grams of sugar).
- Lower weight and BMI: In broad food intake studies, participants that routinely eat avocados have been determined to be lower in weight and lower in body mass index than non-consumers. Of course, this can be due to a variety of factors (maybe avocado-eater are overall healthier eaters or more active). No matter the reason, let’s eat some guac!
- Cancer prevention: Avocados (specifically avocado extract) have been studied and determined to help prevent the occurrence of cancers in the mouth, skin, breast and prostate gland. These results are likely due to the unusual mix of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients. Since cancer risk factors almost always include excessive inflammation (related to lack of anti-inflammatory nutrients) and oxidative stress (related to lack of antioxidants), it makes perfect sense that avocados reduce risk. But, here is where the avocado story gets especially interesting. In animal and lab studies of healthy cells, avocado works to improve inflammatory and oxidative stress levels. But in cancer cells, avocado works to increase oxidative stress and shift the cancer cells over into a programmed cell death cycle (apoptosis), lessening the cancer cell numbers. In other words, avocado appears to selectively push cancer cells “over the brink” in terms of oxidative stress and increase their likelihood of dying, while at the same time actively supporting the health of non-cancerous cells by increasing their supply antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients. Wow.
- Glutathione: Remember our friend glutathione – the super antioxidant that healthy cells produce when they’re given the right nutrients (see link http://lovingthebike.com/nutrition-tips/nutrition-tip-february-5-2011). Avocados happen to be a good source of this wonder-nutrient.
- Vitamin E: Avocados are the best fruit source of vitamin E, an essential vitamin that protects against many diseases and helps maintains overall health. Specifically, it is an antioxidant that supports brain, cardiovascular, and respiratory health.
Before you get too excited and cut into that avocado that’s been waiting for you in the fridge, make sure to “peel” it instead of cut it. The method you use to peel an avocado can make a difference to your health. The greatest concentration of carotenoids in avocado occurs in the dark green flesh that lies just beneath the skin, so you don’t want to cut it all off. For this reason, the best method is to peel it as much as possible. First, cut into the avocado lengthwise, producing two long avocado halves that are still connected in the middle by the seed. Next, take hold of both halves and twist them in opposite directions until they naturally separate. At this point, remove the seed and cut each of the halves lengthwise to produce long quartered sections of the avocado. You can use your thumb and index finger to grip the edge of the skin on each quarter and peel it off, just as you would do with a banana skin. The final result is a peeled avocado that contains most of that dark green outermost flesh so rich in carotenoid antioxidants!
Bonus Recipe – Game Changer Home-Fried Taco Shells with Avocado Oil:
- ~1-1.5 cups avocado oil (here’s the avocado oil I use)
- corn tortillas – search for ones that feel pliable and not cracked when buying
Using tongs, place avocado oil in a small 5-6″ skillet until it’s filled about 1 inch. Heat on high until for about 5 minutes, until just barely bubbling OR when a small piece of tortilla is placed in, it sizzles (remove piece after testing). Turn burner down to medium high. Place one tortilla in oil, flat. allow to fry for about 15-30 seconds, until golden brown. Flip over, and allow to fry again for 15-30 seconds minutes. Right before taking out, fold tortilla over on itself for a taco shell. Hold about 10 seconds. Remove from oil and allow to drain on paper towels. Allow oil to cool to room temperature. Once cooled you can re-use cooled one additional time: first filter out any food pieces, then cover tightly and keep in the refrigerator.
There’s really not much more to say. This delicious whole, real food taco cabbage & cilantro recipe changed taco Tuesday around here. Any other cyclists out there up for a good taco?
Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.
Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.
If you’d like to work with Kelli one-on-one with a Custom Nutrition Plan & Coaching, or download one of her acclaimed Instant Download Plans like Fuel Right Race Light, click here: Apex Nutrition Plans for Endurance Athletes. Be sure to use coupon code lovingthebike for a 15% discount!