Corned Beef and Cabbage: Diet Despair?

Corned beef and cabbage. Not a traditional Irish meal in the true sense, but a favorite in the United States where everyone seems to have at least a small connection to the Emerald Isle on March 17.

Corned beef is salted beef brisket. The meat is cured in a salty brine and usually cooked with a variety of spices and peppercorns. Corned beef itself is not calorically dense. As noted on UF Health Communications, corned beef contains around 285 calories for a four-ounce portion. Where the diet heads towards failure is the fact that the portion contains a whopping 1,286 milligrams of sodium per serving. That’s more than half of the sodium you’re supposed to have all day.

Add cabbage to the corned beef and the calorie load only creeps up a few more to 309 for two cups of cabbage. Not bad for a holiday feast. But just having corned beef and cabbage by itself is not getting your Irish on. The holiday feast needs potatoes and a pint of Guinness. Plus a shot of Jameson, coupled with a Bailey’s to make a Car Bomb and well, the Spring Equinox is right around the corner. That’s a great day to start a new diet.

In the meantime, if you want to feast on a plate of corned beef and cabbage with all the extras, there are some tweaks you can do for your dinner. Too late? Save this article in your cookbook for next year of a reminder that you can get your Irish on in a healthier way.

1. Cut down on butter and salt.

But your great-great-grandmother always used two sticks of butter in her Colcannon along with full fat cream? It’s tradition. But she also walked everywhere and probably had a garden, did her wash by hand and other calorie-burning tasks. If you are on a diet, either cut your serving or do this:

  • Use one stick of butter. You will survive.
  • Don’t add salt.
  • Use skim milk or stir in low fat sour cream, even plain yogurt.
  • Add more cabbage to the dish. Instead of bacon or ham in the potatoes, try going vegetarian.
  • Add horseradish for extra flavor.
  • Try not to butter everything. Cabbage begs for butter, but try some Vege Sal from the health food store. It’s terrific on all sorts of dishes.

2. Substitute corned beef.

Sacrilege! But in the interest of cutting sodium and fat, use a different meat such as pork tenderloin or serve turkey.

But if you must have corned beef and cabbage, here is a healthy recipe brought to you by Organic Gardening.

  • 1 1/4 lb sm red-skinned potatoes, halved
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2″ pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 lb corned beef brisket
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 bottle (12 oz) dark beer
  • 1 small green cabbage, cut into 8 wedges

1. Combine potatoes, carrots, garlic, sugar, and bay leaf in large slow cooker. Put brisket on top of vegetables and add water and beer. Cover and cook on low 8 to 10 hours. Add cabbage for last 1 1/2 hours.
2. Remove beef fro slow cooker. Let rest, loosely covered, 5 to 10 minutes before slicing. Remove and discard bay leaf. Remove vegetables with slotted spoon and serve with corned beef.

Nutritional facts per serving
Calories 443.8 cal
Fat 25.6 g
Saturated fat 8.1 g
Cholesterol 91.9 mg

Sodium 2110.8 mg

Carbohydrates 22.4 g
Total sugars 6.3 g
Dietary fiber 4.1 g
Protein 27.9 g

The sodium level remains astronomically high, but that’s the way corned beef is made. Drink lots of water along with your beer and remember that the diet can always start tomorrow.

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