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Amazing Cole Slaw

I have always loved cole slaw, but until my celiac diagnosis, the only cole slaws I had ever tried were doused in a creamy (and not so healthy) dressing.  About a year ago, I found a recipe on Eating Well Magazine’s website for cole slaw that I absolutely fell in love with, and the best part, it is not mayonnaise based.  I eat this slaw weekly, and quite often, I will have a bowl of it for lunch.  Once I learned about the rock star nutritional profile of cabbage, including being a good  source of Vitamin K, I became a big fan of this cruciferous vegetable (see below for  information).

Cole Slaw

3 Tbs. Cider Vinegar
4 tsp. Sugar (I used 3 tsp. of Stevia Extract In The Raw)
2 tsp. Canola Oil (I used Grapeseed Oil, my new favorite oil because of the health benefits)
1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1/4 tsp. Celery Seeds
1/4 tsp. Mustard Seeds
1 cup shredded Green Cabbage
1 cup shredded Red Cabbage (I didn’t use in the following photo because I cheated and used the prepackaged Cole Slaw Mix)
1 Carrot, shredded
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

  • Whisk together vinegar, sugar, oil, Dijon mustard, celery seeds and mustard seeds in a mixing bowl.
  • Add green and red cabbage and carrots; toss well.
  • Season with salt and pepper.

Vitamin K, along with the other fat-soluble Vitamins A, D and E are deficiencies commonly found in patients with untreated celiac disease.  Vitamin K deficiency can lead to poor blood clotting and excessive bleeding (if you are taking a blood thinner, like Coumadin, there is important information about Vitamin K that you should read).

Cabbage is also a good source of Vitamin C, fiber, manganese, Vitamins B6, B1 and B2, Folate, Calcium, Potassium, Vitamin A and Omega 3 Fatty Acids!  Cabbage, as well as all of the members of the Brassica family (including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kale) are full of phytonutrients, and according to

The phytonutrients in cruciferous vegetables initiate an intricate dance inside our cells in which gene response elements direct and balance the steps among dozens of detoxification enzyme partners, each performing its own protective role in perfect balance with the other dancers. The natural synergy that results optimizes our cells’ ability to disarm and clear free radicals and toxins, including potential carcinogens, which may be why cruciferous vegetables appear to lower our risk of cancer more effectively than any other vegetables or fruits.

Here is another interesting factoid I read on about red cabbage being protective against Alzheimer’s Disease:

In Alzheimer’s disease, an increase in the production or accumulation of a protein called beta-amyloid protein results in brain cell damage and death from oxidative (free radical) stress. Antioxidant polyphenols abundant in red cabbage, particularly its anthocyanins, can protect brain cells against the damage caused by amyloid-beta protein, suggests a study published in Food Science and Technology.

Red cabbages contain significantly more protective phytonutrients than white cabbages:

The vitamin C equivalent, a measure of antioxidant capacity, of red cabbages is six to eight times higher than that of white cabbage.

A 100 gram (about 3 ounces) serving of raw red cabbage delivers 196.5 milligrams of polyphenols, of which 28.3 milligrams are anthocyanins. White cabbages yield 45 milligrams of polyphenols including .01 milligram of anthocyanins per 100 grams. Summing up their study results, the researchers concluded: “additional consumption of vegetables such as red cabbage may be beneficial to increase chemopreventive effects in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”

That was really great information for me to read, because I have a very strong family history of Alzeheimer’s.  Of my grandmother’s 8 siblings, 7 died of Alzheimer’s and the other one died of brain cancer!  Maybe I better start drinking cabbage juice too! 😀

The problem with the Brassica family of vegetables is that they suffer from a bad rap in the taste category.  I think that the key to enjoying them depends on the method of preparation (still have yet to find a way to like Brussels sprouts though!).  Growing up, my mom boiled cabbage and I cannot imagine a worse cooking method for cabbage.  In order to choke it down as a kid, I had to douse it in salt and plug my nose (otherwise, I would STILL be sitting at my parent’s kitchen table, waiting to be excused!). 😉  What gets my goat today, is knowing that I suffered for nothing, because boiling vegetables leaches out the healthy nutrients.

My favorite ways to eat cabbage is raw (in salads like cole slaw), or fermented in sauerkraut.  I read the following information on sauerkraut on

Sauerkraut’s benefits are two-fold. First, it’s made of cabbage, which is known to fight cancer, treat peptic ulcers and provides vitamin C, fiber, manganese, vitamin B6 and folate. However, because sauerkraut is fermented, it has added benefits over regular cabbage.

Fermenting produces good bacteria known as probiotics, which produce beneficial enzymes, aid digestion and promote healthy flora in the digestive tract. Fermentation also produces isothiocyanates, compounds that have been shown to prevent cancer growth in test tubes and animals.

However, not all sauerkraut, particularly in the United States, will give you these benefits. Most sauerkraut sold in supermarkets is pasteurized, which means all of the good bacteria have been killed. In order to get the health benefits of fermentation you need traditionally prepared sauerkraut, which you can find in some health food stores (in the refrigerated section), in delis that make their own (sometimes sold in barrels) or by making it yourself.

Do you have a favorite way of eating cabbage?  I would love to try some new recipes!


  1. I love coleslaw with a vinaigrette dressing too. Perhaps I should do a make your own sauerkraut post?

    • Kristin,

      Yes!! Please make a homemade sauerkraut post!! I have been wanting to make my own for a long time, but need to know exactly how to do it. Do you use a special crock while it is fermenting?

  2. I have recently become a Brussels sprouts fan. I can't get enough of them. In fact I just made some 2 nights ago. Try this recipe out and see if you like it.

    Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Shallots

    1 1/2 lb Brussels sprouts, halved

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    2/3 cup thinly sliced shallots

    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    1 ounce finely chopped bacon or pancetta

    4 teaspoons brown sugar

    2 teaspoons vermouth or cider vinegar

    Preheat oven to 400. Arrange Brussels sprouts on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Drizzle with oil; toss to coat. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes. Add shallots, pepper, salt and pancetta to pan; toss well. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes. Add sugar and vermouth; toss to coat. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until caramelized.

    • April,

      Thanks for the recipe (gulp)! 😉 Brown sugar and bacon, that gives me enough hope to try it. My oldest son LOVES Brussels sprouts too, so I will always make them for him (and his rule for me to be excused from the table is 4 sprouts, LOL!)

      I have been doing an unscientific "study" and have come down to this: there must be a gene involved to like Brussels sprouts. Have you ever noticed that you either love them or hate them, there really is no "in-between??" My dad loves them but my sisters and I hate them. I think the gene skipped a generation and went straight to my son!

      • You are so right about either loving them or hating them…no in between! Reminds me of cilantro. I absolutely love it and have a friend that thinks it tastes like soap. I couldn't understand how anyone could not like cilantro. Then one morning I heard a story on NPR about there being some gene that makes people either love it or hate it.

        Now we just need to do some "googling" and see if there has been a study done for Brussels sprouts. ha!

        I enjoy reading your blog by the way. Thanks.

        • April,

          What a neat article to read, thanks for sharing it! Cilantro was an acquired taste for me, and I can only eat it in small amounts in fresh salsa, as it overwhelms me rather quickly.

          Brussels sprouts are extremely bitter to me, as is cauliflower and many of the summer squashes (except zucchini).

          It was funny about the smell part of the article because I was a big nose plugger as a child, and still have to do it with Brussels sprouts, they really trigger my gag reflex. When I have a cold though, I can eat anything! My son on the other hand, can eat a bowl of Brussels as a snack, that child is weird in my book! 😉

  3. Hi Heidi! Love me some cole slaw here. Thanks for posting all the benefits. =0)Kelly

    • You're welcome Kelly!

      I highly recommend that people Google the health benefits of fruits and veggies… it is a GREAT way to fall "in love" with healthy foods!!

  4. Hi dear–Made this cole slaw tonight to go with our oven-steamed shrimp. I made a few changes, but we loved it! First, I had neither celery seed nor mustard seed. I was out of grapeseed oil (which I love also!), so I used extra light olive oil. Next, Mr. GFE is in the creamy slaw camp, so I added 4 tsp mayo. Some of his words of praise: "excellent," "perfect," "5-star," and "don't change a thing." BTW, I didn't need to add salt or pepper for our tastes. I'm very happy! The other great thing is I can see me modifying the dressing recipe to use on other greens. A year ago I wouldn't even touch cabbage … now I'm one of its biggest fans. I love it in salad, smoothies, tacos, etc. Thanks so much for sharing all its health benefits and this wonderful recipe!


    • Shirley,

      Your tweaks sound delicious, I like creamy cole slaw too and prior to making my own, I had only ever had the cole slaw from KFC! That is what I thought cole slaw should taste like and was hesitant to try a non-mayo based version. Oh Lordy Pete, I had such a limited palate!

      I am going to try your tweaks using the Olive Oil mayo by KRAFT, 1 Tbs. has 45 calories and only 4 grams of fat, 2 of which are monounsaturated fat and 1 is polyunsaturated.

      BTW, I stumbled across your recipe for homemade vanilla extract a couple of nights ago:… and I got so excited! It never even occurred to me that you could make your own! I've ordered some vanilla beans and will be trying it out soon, I can't wait! 😀

  5. I looooove cole slaw too – and I cheat too. Who has time or inclination to shred or cut yourself! And then clean up 🙂

    You are such a researcher, I love that about you. Love reading your results. I am passing this on to my Mom. My Dad LOVES slaw also and I think he'd like Shirley's addition of mayo (don't you love people who comment when they've tried something). He'd also really like the benefits.

    I can't believe your family history with alzheimers. Bless them. I wonder if it was an environmental thing? You know, something to do with the water they drank or the area they grew up in. Know what I mean? Do you avoid non-stick cookware too? I've read a lot about the connection between alzheimers and non-stick.


    • Maggie,

      I love reading about the tweaks other people make, gives me a lot of great ideas to try! As for the research I do on fruits and vegetables, that really happened on accident and I found that the more I learned about the health benefits of produce, the more I got determined I became to incorporate foreign foods (to me) into our diet. The metamorphosis of our eating habits from just a year ago to what it is today, is mind boggling! The benefits? An almost 60 pound weight loss for me, an energy level I have never known before, I sleep like a baby and my kiddos are growing like weeds!

      Looking back on how I was raised on processed foods (and consequently having a TERRIBLE time adjusting to the GF diet and learning to like vegetables), compared to how I am raising my kids (on a wide variety of fruits and veggies), they are so accepting of the tastes and textures I used to flat out reject. Since my kids are not subjected to the highly refined, sugar laden processed foods on a daily basis, their little bodies actually gravitate towards natural whole foods. There are even times when I will offer Sam the dessert option of candy or fresh fruit and he chooses the fruit!! I am fascinated by watching them make food choices for themselves.

      I am not sure about the high prevalence of Alzheimers in my family, my mom has mentioned that it is genetic? but I would not be surprised at all if there is an environmental component.

      I absolutely avoid non-stick cookware, only stainless steel for me! 😀

      • Wow, that's a great tale Heidi! 60 pounds. Good for you. And your boys will thank you for it when they're our age! Though it seems like they already appreciate it. Pete and I get so happy when our kids make good food choices too. Livvie often asks for cashews. I didn't start eating cashews until I was an adult! It always amazes me how greatly our babies affect our journeys!


  6. I LOVE coleslaw! I think it's the very best way to eat cabbage!! Your recipe looks absolutely delicious! I'm glad you've tried it with stevia and it works just as well as with sugar! I also make my own sourkraut. I have a batch that I just finished! We're having some of it tonight with turkey sausage.

  7. I was so busy telling you about my success with your recipe, Heidi, that I forgot to comment on the Alzheimer's and dementia connection to celiac. There have been few official studies with limited number of patients to date, but the data is compelling. My doctor believes that early onset Alzheimers or dementia are related to gluten. Alzheimers is also being diagnosed earlier in those with Down Syndrome per my understanding and there is a documented higher incidence of celiac (and gluten intolerance–less documented) in those with Down Syndrome.

    Here are a few links to read:

    Maybe the family history is really a family history of gluten issues. That's what I always think when I hear that there's a family history of osteoporosis, pancreatic cancer, lymphoma, and other conditions that can be caused by celiac/gluten issues.


    • Oh Shirley, thank you for this information! I have had particular trouble with getting my mom to accept that she should be tested again (not sure of the tests that were ordered the first time she was tested). She is convinced my dad is the gene contributor anyway due to his "Northern European" ancestry. My mom is 66 and already beginning to exhibit symptoms of dementia and I worry for her. The ironic thing is that she has suffered from severe GERD most of her adult life and was actually doing some experimental treatments for it at the Mayo Clinic several years ago (no improvement).

      I have decided that I need to get the gene test done, if I have a double copy, then that would mean both of my parents carry the gene and I can give that information to my aunts and uncles. You know what they say though, "You can lead a horse to water…"

  8. I just made this to bring a cookout at my parents house tomorrow…also a great way for brussel sprouts, is roasted in the oven then mixed with some crispy bacon and gorganzola cheese – yummy!! also if you blanch them quickly then shred the sprouts, you can add them to this recipe 🙂

  9. Ooh, I wonder how this dressing would be on broccoli slaw? I like to buy the organic broccoli slaw from Trader Joe's and have been making those bad-for-you creamy dressings for it. They are yummy but I feel guilty every time I eat it! So maybe I'll try a version. Now I happen to hate celery. I wonder what would be a good sub for celery seed… hmmm…


  10. Libby Hueschen says

    A much easier method is to cut up your cabbage and I like to add sliced red onion; mix together in a large bowl. Pour your sugar over the top of the cabbage mixture. Pour one bottle of Seven Seas Italian dressing, which is gluten free, plus the celery and mustard seed into a small sauce. Bring to a rapid boil. Stir VERY well and pour over top of sugar, making sure to pour over ALL of the sugar. Refrigerate overnight. Next morning, stir very well. Serve. Note: You may need more than one bottle of Seven Seas, depending upon how much cabbage you chop up!


  1. […] summer I made Heidi’s Amazing Cole Slaw for Mr. GFE. He is a huge cole slaw fan … if it’s good!  He thinks good coleslaw is the […]