Recipe: Coconut cabbage

Recipe: Coconut cabbage

Cabbage often conjures up images of soggy, limpid white slices of overcooked cabbage, served up during school dinners, or on a weekend with a Sunday lunch. Yuck! But it doesn´t always have to be like that! In this recipe we combine cabbage and coconut and it tastes lovely, honest!

Cabbage is a leafy vegetable, usually round or oval in shape and belongs to the brassica family (this family also includes broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts). Cabbage is available in most countries all year round, although they are most abundant in the autumn and winter. They come in different colours and there is a wide variety of different types. You can eat cabbage raw or cooked. I used to love eating steamed dark green leaf savoy cabbage, or raw white and red cabbage in a wonderful coleslaw (recipe in our summer food cookbook). Even the humble white cabbage can be cooked and taste wonderful and after tasting this recipe I hope you will agree!

There are many health benefits that come with eating cabbage: it is low in calories, fat and sodium – so including cabbage in your diet helps to maintain a healthy weight and normal blood pressure. Cabbage is a great source of vitamin C (an anti-oxidant), so will help to keep your immune system in tip-top shape this winter! It is also a good source of fibre (or roughage), which keeps your digestive system working well, cleansing your intestines and helping to prevent constipation. One of the possible side effects of including more cabbage in your diet, at least in the early days or if you eat a large amount, is an increase in gas, bloating and possible abdominal pain. (Click here to read some suggested natural remedies for this). Be aware also if you are on medication to thin your blood (or other medications, such as treatment for cancer), that cabbage contains vitamin K, the vitamin that helps your blood to clot. Stick to one cup of cabbage per day and check with your medical professional if you are in any doubt.

The best way to cook cabbage is to steam or stir fry – this retains the most vitamins and minerals. Throw out the pan of boiling water, no more!

In this recipe we team cabbage up with coconut, to supercharge the nutritional value of this dish! Coconut is great for boosting your immune system and it’s a great natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal product, which helps to balance your digestive tract. Many authors believe that including coconut in your diet can help to protect your heart. It also tastes divine! It is quite high in calories, but eating it in moderation does add to your health. Coconut and chili always makes me think of the east – Thailand, Vietnam or maybe Malaysia. Add a little chili to being some lovely heat to the dish (or a lot if you want something really spicy!). You can serve this coconut cabbage as a side to any meal, we love it with teriyaki tofu or our lentil shepherds pie.

Recipe: Coconut cabbage

Serves: 6, as a side dish
Calories: 571 total, 95 per serving


1/4 (about 400g) white cabbage, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp vegetable, sunflower or olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 long fresh green chilli, thinly sliced
3cm-piece fresh ginger, peeled
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp mustard seeds
20g (1/4 cup) desiccated coconut
Handful of freshly chopped parsley, to serve


Add some boiling water to the bottom of a pan with a lid, then steam the cabbage for a couple of minutes until it starts to soften.

Meanwhile, heat a wok over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then add the garlic, chilli and ginger, and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes or until aromatic. Add the turmeric and mustard seeds. Cook, tossing, until the mustard seeds start to pop.

Add the cabbage. Cook, tossing, for 4 minutes or until the cabbage starts to become crisp. Add in the coconut and stir well. Serve, sprinkled with coconut and parsley.

About the author

Lisa is one of the founders of La Crisalida Retreats. She is an Epidemiologist, therapeutic hatha and yin yoga teacher and also teaches mindfulness meditation. Lisa has studied NLP and hypnosis, as well as nutrition (she designs the menus).