When your 3-year-old and 6-year-old boys both like a meal with cabbage, apples and chicken, what do you do?
- Cheer and run around like a crazy woman because it’s a miracle.
- Figure out how to make it quick and easy with only one pot.
- Put on your skeptical hat because there’s no way it can last.
- All of the above. <<<This is the answer!!!
It’s totally cabbage season in the fall, but they’re so inexpensive and healthy any time of year that this is a huge winner for us.
It actually started because we were testing some pre-prepared meals from The Good Kitchen and one was “Apple & Sage Roasted Chicken over Braised Red Cabbage with Fennel & Apple” — and those little boys asked for THIRDS.
Thirds, people! And it wasn’t chicken nuggets, but chicken with cabbage!
We used the meals because I was out of the house for dinner, so by the time I heard the great news, I didn’t even get to taste one. But for the next week, I thought, “We are going to figure out how to make this at home.”
I wrote in my meal plan (which is really just a pen-and-paper list right now, because it’s the meal planning style that works for me), “cabbage apple fennel dish” for Wednesday, knowing that I planned to go grocery shopping Monday, and I could get fennel.
Well. That meal planning style might be what I’ve fallen into, but there are better options because it didn’t really work out! I didn’t end up shopping Monday, so by Thursday, I still wanted to make this dinner, had nothing else planned, and no fennel.
Creating a Simple Recipe for Cabbage, Apples and Chicken
We are blessed with an amazing babysitter on Thursdays who is all about real food and can cook – plus she likes grocery shopping with our 3-year-old. My list for her had “Dinner?” on it and she asked me, “So, no plans for dinner yet?”
(It happens sometimes.)
I explained how my plan had gone awry, and she said she’d grab some fennel at the store and make something up.
*cue angels singing*
This dish is what we had for dinner, and I had to share it with you all right away!
Why Cook with Cabbage, Apples and Fennel?
Kitchen Stewardship is always dedicated to serving up the best recipes for your health AND budget, which is why cabbage, apples and chicken thighs (not breasts) make their frugal appearances in this meal. But is it healthy?
The whole thing is of course low in carbs and grain-free/gluten-free, but the main ingredients also have some star health benefits that we can’t ignore:
Health Benefits of Fennel
- high in fiber
- a good source of potassium
- a decent source of Vitamin A (16% DV in a cup)
- some Vitamin C, although not a super strong source
If you’re seeking foods for heart health and anti-cancer properties, fennel should be on your list. (source)
Health Benefits of Apples
Apples are of course super frugal, but also:
- are rich in antioxidants and flavanoids
- support the detox system and glutathione
- are high in fiber
- contain quercetin which supports the nervous system
- find more in our awesome printable to align your cycle with the food you eat
Health Benefits of Cabbage
Cabbage is actually a great source of
- Vitamin K (almost 100% DV)
- Vitamin C (50% DV)
- packed with antioxidants, which actually last 3-4 days after eating!
- Red cabbage fights Alzheimer’s (feel free to use red in this recipe, or try this cancer-fighting salad)
- 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
- 3 lbs. chicken thighs, sliced
- 2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 1–2 tsp. allspice
- 1 fennel bulb, sliced (save fronds for garnish)
- 2 medium apples, sliced thinly (Granny Smith adds a great tartness)
- 1/2 tsp. mustard powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. allspice
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
- 1 medium green cabbage, sliced
- optional- a couple teaspoons of maple syrup
- In a deep cast iron pan or wide-bottomed stainless steel pot, heat .
- Sear the chicken on high, allowing it to cook about a minute on each side.
- Add the garlic powder, salt, pepper and allspice and toss with the meat; cook chicken about 5 minutes each side or until no pink is visible inside.
- Prep the apples and cabbage and crush the garlic while waiting.
- Remove cooked chicken.
- Add the fennel to the same pan and sauté for a couple minutes over medium heat (add more oil if needed).
- Add apples, mustard powder, salt pepper and allspice.
- Sauté together until caramelizing (browning) begins, about 5 minutes.
- Put the fresh crushed garlic in and stir around for 1 minute.
- Pour in the ACV and add the cabbage. (It always seems like it’s way too much, but trust us – cabbage cooks down like nobody’s business, so stuff as much in as your pot will fit!)
- Toss together over medium heat until the cabbage is tender.
- Sample and add more seasoning or maple syrup to taste.
- Toss the chicken back in with the cabbage (or you can serve it on the side).
- Garnish with the pretty parts of the fennel.
2 Tools for Real Food Success:
It’s never easy to keep up with real food goals! If my meal isn’t planned ahead and/or I don’t have the right food on hand, it’s SO tempting to give up and grab convenience food!
I have to almost trick myself into getting it right sometimes…like this:
I love my raw milk farm, and they usually have beef for me too – but not all the cuts. And chicken is hard to come by. And pork is hit or miss.
I’m sure you’ve experienced the same sourcing frustrations!
That’s why I’m always grateful that there’s an online source of incredibly high quality meat that I can always count on. A box from Butcher Box is guaranteed to be grassfed/organic/pastured/free range = all the labels important to your family’s health!
If you live in an area (like my mom) where organic local farms are nowhere to be found or have trouble sourcing certain meats or cuts, Butcher Box has you covered.
(free shipping too!)
But if I forget to plan ahead, all that amazing meat just sits in the freezer! Enter Real Plans, an online meal planning software that is probably smarter than I am.
I can enter that cut of meat along with my food restrictions and find the perfect meal, then generate a shopping list, multiply it by 4 if we have company, and enter my own fav recipes too.
Real Plans takes the stress out of meal planning and puts the nourishing food BACK on your table. There’s a plan for every diet type:
I had forgotten that the recipe we were trying to mimic had sage, so that could be a possible addition as you play with making this recipe your own. If you don’t love the tang of vinegar you could easily cut that down by half as well.
And if you’d rather do it all in the oven, fill some sheet pans with the ingredients (tossed in the sauce) and roast at 400F until everything gets caramelized. The chicken thighs will likely only take 15-20 minutes, especially if you slice them first (maybe quicker) but the vegetables will need a good half hour to get browned.
We had the Good Kitchen version again just last night as you can see on Instagram and boy, are those nice when an evening isn’t as normal! (I got my wisdom teeth out this week – will post on that soon!) The Good Kitchen meals are microwavable but we almost always just tip them out onto a cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes. Still so easy!! Use the code KS15 for 15% off the first order!!!
I’ve Found the Perfect Tongs
If you are a member of the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse, you’ve seen our kids use my wooden Pampered Chef tongs for sauteeing veggies and tossing salads, but for slippery cabbage, these new tongs I got as a product sample are THE BOMB.
Here are my fav features, other than the truly low price for a set of 2:
- easy to lock and unlock
- silicone on the handles so kids don’t burn fingers even if they’re left too close to the stove
- has a little rest thingy that means no MESS on the counter!
- dishwasher safe
They’re so much nicer than any other tongs I have (and I might have a few too many in the ol’ drawer). Christmas list stocking stuffers, ladies!!!
(LOL pun intended!)
Got cabbage left?
Sometimes they are much bigger than a “medium” cabbage!!!
- Chicken Turmeric Soup with Cabbage & Coconut
- Simple Cabbage Soup with Secret Superfood
- Slow Cooker “Unstuffed” Cabbage Rolls