Supercharge Your Slaw

A good slaw is so much more than shredded vegetables drenched in mayo and the fibre and vinegar in this super-tasty recipe make it excellent for controlling your blood sugar too.

Image courtesy of chengyuzheng on iStockphoto.com

After several weeks of using a continuous glucose monitor, I am hooked on the importance of controlling blood sugar for weight control and general health. Spikes in blood sugar often mean corresponding dips which cause food cravings and a rollercoaster effect leading to a lack of control over what you eat and a resultant weight gain.

One of the most impactful ways of smoothing blood sugar levels is to eat plenty of fibre with, or preferably before, your carbohydrates. The fibre really slows the absorption of the glucose into the bloodstream and a helping of this slaw will deliver exactly that. Even better though — this slaw is supercharged with the acetic acid in the vinegar which is another amazing hack for controlling blood glucose levels when consumed before or with a meal.

Oh, and it tastes delicious…

Image by author

It’s so versatile too — great as a healthy snack, a sandwich filler, a starter or an accompaniment to your main meal. I always like to have a big bowl on the go.

You can also be incredibly flexible with the ingredients but there are two which I think are non-negotiable, and it’s the treatment of these that can really raise your slaw to new levels.

Red onion is a must but you can’t just throw in clumsy chunks — it has to be treated with love. It must be halved, very finely sliced and then macerated. Now macerating may sound dauntingly sophisticated but it amounts to nothing more than bathing something in a flavoured liquid — in this case, the red onion in red wine vinegar.

Simply toss the slivers of onion in a couple of tablespoons and leave in a sealed container for at least 30 minutes. Maceration softens the onion and releases its flavours while the resulting oniony vinegar also adds flavour to the slaw as a whole.

Cabbage is the other non-negotiable. You can use a pointed cabbage or a savoy if that’s what you have but white cabbage works best. I like to use half a small white cabbage and half a small red one — the red cabbage adds a nice burst of colour and vibrancy to the slaw.

Again, the cabbage needs to be treated with love — quartered, core removed and very thinly sliced before being tossed in salt and left in a bowl for 20–30 minutes. The salt draws out the water and softens the cabbage so after this time you can squeeze the cabbage in an absorbant cloth before returning it to a big, dry bowl for assembling the slaw.

While the onions and cabbage are doing their thing you can chop up the other ingredients for your slaw — I like to slice some very fine batons of carrot, more for colour than flavour, and add them to the mix with a finely sliced fennel bulb and some coriander. But there are loads of options including:

  • Jalapenos
  • Apples
  • Walnuts
  • Pine nuts
  • Toasted almonds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Caraway seeds
  • Fennel seeds etc.

Once you have everything ready, throw it all together in a big bowl and toss with the juice of a couple of lemons or a lemon and a lime. I may add some more salt and vinegar to taste but I never add mayo or oil. Mayo just reduces this deliciously zingy and versatile dish to a sickly sludge while olive oil will also make the slaw degrade very quickly and can just as easily be added on the plate if desired.

This slaw will keep happily in the fridge for a few days. It may lose a bit of its crunch but not its flavour — I don’t mind that at all.

My Slaw Recipe:

  • 1/2 small white cabbage (250g)
  • 1/2 small red cabbage (250g)
  • 1 red onion (150g)
  • 1 small fennel bulb (100g)
  • 1 large carrot (150g)
  • A small bunch of coriander (cilantro)
  • 2–3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2–3 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 x lemon
  • 1 x lime

I hope you enjoy this and I would love to hear about your slaw recipes.

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