We rarely ate out when I was younger. We had six kids in our family and restaurant dining was not just expensive but impractical. Most nights, my mom cooked and we ate together at home at the table, with the TV OFF. We bonded. We talked. We argued. We picked at our vegetables. We were loud. Family meals were the emotional nourishment of our connectedness, especially pasta. Ah, pasta, drowning in my mom’s homemade spaghetti and meatballs. Food like that helped define our family and pasta was the fastest route back to a life that was no longer mine.
My mom came from a big Italian family. Pasta was a mainstay in our house, my aunts and uncles’ homes, and my grandparents’ house. And, pasta was fine until I hit 50. Menopause gave me stubborn pounds that decided to live on my thighs. Hormones helped (thank you BioTE®) but I needed a nutritional overall for the rest. So, instead of giving up pasta altogether, I decided to find a suitable – gulp – substitute. It worked. I discovered cabbage and before you laugh, hang one.
Cabbage is the “everything food.” It helps keep you regular, is loaded with fiber. It contains antioxidants like vitamin C important in the resistance to infection. It is a source of vitamin K – vital to building and maintaining strong bones. It is anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic, and one full cup is low in carbohydrates and has only 22 measly calories.
To me, cabbage has no real taste by itself but it embraces the flavors of everything else. Cut very thinly then boiled, it gives the illusion of pasta. I top it with all kinds of things, including spaghetti sauce and meatballs. My meatballs are tiny and have lost many of the ingredients they used to have and my sauce is isn’t even a distant relative of my mom’s but mine is good and healthy.
I use all fresh vegetables and herbs. Chopped tomatoes, fresh oregano and basil, a teaspoon of olive oil tossed together placed over freshly steamed cabbage and sprinkled (sparingly) with fresh Romano and Parmesan cheese is divine. I have convinced myself that my take on my mom’s sauce is analogous to my growing up and that is okay. It’s evidence that I can make my way in this world at least in the kitchen.
Getting older has forced me to replace my beloved pasta with cabbage. It tastes different but the aroma still holds a hint of my childhood and with one tasty bite, I am home.
Just for the health of it,
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