I love finding out what my favourite or sometimes not so favourite foods have to share nutritionally wise – we are often told that so many vegetables and fruits are “bad” however, this is not always the case, yes fruits have sugar in them – these are fruit sugars and not the same as processed sugars – we are better reaching for an apple or pear than a chocolate bar or fizzy drink. IF you are in doubt there are many apps that can help with finding out if it is a low or high carb/ calorie content etc. and also FODMAPs are an issue too that can also be worked out from elimination of high fodmap foods. However, if we can focus on the goodness within these we can still enjoy some fruits such as mango for instance – moderately and still gain the health benefits.

February 22.02.2022 (quite an auspicious day in fact!) and for this month, we have the Letter N – there are so many amazing Fruits and Vegetables to eat and of course listing them all would take for ever and a day!

NAPA Cabbage

Today I thought I would look more into the Napa Cabbage – something we really enjoy eating in many ways, it works so well in a stir fry though! More commonly knows as Chinese Leaf Cabbage.

Napa cabbage has a different shape and texture compared to other cabbages. It is the rugby ball shape and pale green in colour.

This Chinese cabbage has more delicate leaves and is often added to soups, stirfry, and other cooked dishes.

Botanically, this chinese cabbage variety belongs to the Brassica family; a large class of leafy/flower-head vegetables which also includes brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, and broccoli, etc. Scientific name: B. campestris (Pekinensis group). Some of the common names of napa are pe-tsai, celery cabbage, Chinese white cabbage, Peking cabbage, won bok (wombok), napa (Japanese), hakusai, pao, hsin pei tsai, kimchi cabbage.

Napa cabbage is an annual, cool season vegetable. It grows best when the days are short and mild

About FODMAPs before we carry on….
If you suffer with IBS or severe bloating here is the vital information that you may need, you can enjoy cabbage in small quantities! If you’re dealing with IBS, cabbage is a low-FODMAP food when enjoyed in smaller portions. When following a low-FODMAP diet, it’s essential to keep your diet balanced with a good variety of IBS-friendly foods.  A little bit of cabbage is a healthy way to add nutrients and flavor to your everyday diet.

Napa cabbage is low-FODMAP at a 1-cup serving size (75g). Napa cabbage also contains fructans, but you need to consume about 500g before it becomes a moderate-FODMAP food. 


  • Napa cabbage is an incredibly low-calorie green-leafy vegetable. 100 g fresh leaves carry just 16 calories. Along with celery, bok-choy, etc., it easily fits into the neo-class of zero calorie or negative calorie group of vegetables.
  • Napa is packed with many antioxidant plant compounds such as carotenes, thiocyanates, indole-3-carbinol, lutein, zeaxanthin, sulforaphane and isothiocyanates. Also, it is an abundant source of soluble and insoluble dietary fibre.
  • Fresh napa is an excellent source of folates. 100 g provides 79 µg or 20% of daily required levels of this B-complex vitamin. Folic acid is one of the essential components of DNA.
  • Further, Napa cabbage has great levels of vitamin-C. 100 g of fresh napa provides about 45% of the daily requirements of this vitamin.
  • Likewise in other cabbages, napa too has moderate levels of vitamin-K, provides about 38% of RDA levels. Vitamin-K has a potential role in bone metabolism by promoting osteoblastic activity in bone cells. Therefore, sufficient levels of vitamin K in the diet make the bone stronger, healthier and help delay osteoporosis. Further, vitamin-K also has established a role to play in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in their brain.
  • Napa cabbage has small levels of vitamin-A. However, it also contains flavonoid polyphenolic compounds such as carotenes, lutein, and xanthin which convert to vitamin-A in the human body.
  • As in other green vegetables, it is a good source of many essential vitamins such as riboflavin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine (185 of RDA) and thiamin.
  • Also, it is a very natural source of electrolytes and minerals like calcium, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is the chief component of cell and body fluids and helps in regulating heart rate and blood pressure.

    **Likewise in other Brassica family vegetables, napa cabbage also carries certain chemical compounds in it known as “goitrogens.” Prolonged consumption of brassica group vegetables may result in the swelling of the thyroid gland, a condition known as goiter. Therefore, it is advised to limit brassica vegetables in the diet in people with thyroid dysfunction. However, it can be eaten without any reservations in healthy persons. (Medical disclaimer).
Simple ways to enjoy Napa Cabbage

You can eat it raw, shredding it and adding it to tacos, salads or power bowls. Feel free to swap it in for any recipe that calls for green cabbage; its sweet flavor makes it particularly delicious in coleslaw recipes. You can also add it to salads or sandwiches to add crunch and depth of flavor
Napa cabbage is also typically used in kimchi, stir-fries, and dumpling fillings, but is too light to hold up to baking or roasting.


Napa cabbage has very mild flavors, with white stems and some leafy parts at the end of the white stems.

The vegetable has a crisp texture, with a nice crunch and bite on the white stems.

As a result, the best way of cooking is an easy Chinese stir fry with simple ingredients

This recipe looks really tasty way to incorporate the cabbage. Great for a starter too!

  • 2 firm medium pears
  • 1/4 cup brandy or Cognac, optional
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large fennel bulb, halved, cored and thinly sliced
  • 4 cups shredded or thinly sliced cabbage
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey or agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 cup crumbled or sliced Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

  1. Peel and core pears; cut into 1/2-in. slices. If desired, toss with brandy. Set pears aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add fennel; saute until crisp-tender, 2-3 minutes. Add cabbage; toss with fennel. Cook until both are tender, 2-3 minutes longer. Add pears, water, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper to skillet, gently combining ingredients. Cook until liquid is evaporated, 6-8 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a serving bowl. Top with Gorgonzola cheese and toasted walnuts. Serve warm or at room temperature.
    If you choose not to use brandy or cognac, toss the pears in 1 tablespoon lemon juice to preserve their color and freshness.
    1 cup: 391 calories, 26g fat (7g saturated fat), 19mg cholesterol, 810mg sodium, 28g carbohydrate (14g sugars, 8g fiber), 9g protein.

If you want a quick and simple recipe you can’t go far wrong with a Stir Fry imho!

Garlic Cloves
Mushroom, for example: shiitake mushroom, buna shimeji mushroom, white mushroom, or brown mushroom.
Oyster sauce

For the best result, use a wok for the stir fry. If you don’t have a wok, you may use a skillet.

First, heat up the wok or skillet on high heat with cooking oil. Stir fry the garlic until aromatic before adding the Chinese cabbage and mushroom.
Next, add oyster sauce, stir well and you’re done

Due to the mild flavor and crisp texture, this cabbage is great as a salad.

To make salad, cut the vegetables into small pieces and serve it raw with your favorite dressing as a slaw. You may add pine nuts as they are part of your 5 a day and make a great topping to the slaw

Absolutely yes! The most popular Kimchi is made of Napa cabbage.
You can certainly make soup. One recipe is Shabu Shabu and the main vegetable in the soup is Napa cabbage.


Full of antioxidants: They’re a good source of vitamin A and vitamin C, providing more than a third of your daily intake. Good for the skin: They also contain niacin which is great for healthy skin and getting that summer glow.
They are also classed as a superfood:
The ascorbic acid in nectarines fights infection and repairs cartilage and bones, making them ideal for athletes. The bright red colour of nectarines comes from their abundant beta carotene, which is important for healthy skin, teeth and bones.
And they even help you poop!
Stone fruit should be on your list of food that makes you poop. Plums (prunes), apricots, peaches, and nectarines are high in insoluble fibre, which is responsible for regular bowel movements. Rich in fibre and sorbitol, a natural laxative!

All fruits contain the FODMAP fructose. However this powerball of fruit is counted as a High FODMAP food and should be eaten sparingly, sensitive people are encouraged to only eat one portion of fruit per sitting, or approximately 80 grams. Swap out for a low FODMAP fruit instead if you have chronic IBS.

If you are looking ahead to the time when Nectarines are in season and thinking summer all the way then BBC Good Food have some cracking recipes including this one – Spice roasted fruits with honey & orange sauce by Tom Kime

NUTS…..the fruity facts..

Types of nuts
A nut is a simple dry fruit consisting of one or two edible kernels inside a hard shell. Nuts include and benefits include:

  • Almonds – relatively low in calories, almonds have more calcium than any other nut, making them a great food for overall health. Plus, they are rich in fiber and vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps fight dangerous inflammation. Calories: 164, Protein:6g, Fat: 14.2g
  • Brazil nuts  energy dense and rich in healthy fats, selenium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, manganese, thiamine, and vitamin E. Calories 187 Protein, 4.1 grams, Fat 19 grams
  • Cashews nuts are especially rich in unsaturated fats — a category of fats linked to a lower risk of premature death and heart disease They’re also low in sugar, a source of fiber, and contain almost the same amount of protein as an equivalent quantity of cooked meat. Calories: 157 Protein: 5 gram, Fat: 12 grams
  • Hazelnuts are packed with nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidant compounds and healthy fats. They may also have health benefits, including helping decrease blood fat levels, regulating blood pressure, reducing inflammation and improving blood sugar levels, among others. Calories 176, Total fat 17 grams, Protein: 4.2 grams
  • Macadamias also rich in monounsaturated fats, a type of fat that may boost heart health by lowering your total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Calories: 204 Fat: 23 gram Protein: 2 grams – one of the higher calorie nuts – moderation is the key!
  • Pecans they’re a good source of fibre, along with copper, thiamine, and zinc. Although nuts contain mainly insoluble fiber that doesn’t dissolve in water, they also contain some soluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, forming a gel-like material that moves through your body undigested and slows the absorption of sugar into the blood. Calories: 196 Protein: 2.5 gram Fat: 20.5 grams another high calorie nut
  • Pine nuts are not actually a nut at all. Pine nuts are actually seeds harvested from certain types of pine cones. Pine nuts offer a good balance of protein, fats, and fibre to keep blood sugar levels stable. Calories: 191, Protein: 3.9g, Fat: 19g
  • Pistachios is the lowest calorie nut on the list. A single serving delivers a healthy dose of potassium as well as eye-healthy compounds lutein and zeaxanthin, the latter of which gives pistachios their green hue
  • Walnuts (14 halves contain 185 calories, 18 grams fat, 4 grams protein) have high amounts of alpha linoleic acid
  • Peanuts are legumes, they are classified as nuts due to their similar characteristics to other tree nuts. Like most other nuts, peanuts are also full of brain-boosting healthy fats and vitamin E, as well. One ounce of peanuts (about 28 unshelled nuts) contains about 170 calories, 7 grams protein, and 14 grams fat.
    *calories etc.. based on 30 grams serving

  • 7 low-carb nuts, ranked by the amount of carbs:
  • Pecan nuts – 100 g (3½ ounces or about three handfuls) contains 4 grams of net carbs.
  • Brazil nuts – 100 g contains 4 grams of net carbs.
  • Macadamia – 100 g contains 5 grams of net carbs.
  • Hazel nuts – 100 g contains 7 grams of net carbs.
  • Walnuts – 100 g contains 7 grams of net carbs.
  • Peanuts – 100 g contains 8 grams of net carbs.
  • Almonds – 100 g contains 9 grams of net carbs.
Benefits of nuts 

Most nuts have very similar macronutrient (protein, carbohydrate, and fat) profiles, but different types of nuts may have slightly different micronutrient (vitamin and mineral) content. 

Nuts have about 29 kJ of energy per gram, and are:

  • High in ‘good fats’ – monounsaturated fats (most nut types) and polyunsaturated fats (mainly walnuts).
  • Low in saturated fats.
  • Good sources of dietary protein – a good alternative to animal protein. 
  • Some nuts are also high in amino acid arginine, which keeps blood vessels healthy.
  • Free of dietary cholesterol
  • High in dietary fibre.
  • Rich in phytochemicals that act as antioxidants.
  • Rich in vitamins and minerals – vitamins include – E, B6, niacin and folate) and minerals include – magnesium, zinc, plant iron, calcium, copper, selenium, phosphorus, and potassium.
  • Fat absorption – fats in nuts are not fully digested and absorbed by the body. When less fats are absorbed it means that less energy from nuts is absorbed too.
  • Hunger and fullness – nuts help to suppress our hunger. As a result, food intake is reduced. This effect is due to the protein, fat, and fibre content of nuts.
  • Energy expenditure – research suggests that nuts can increase the amount of energy we burn. Energy we burn following a nut-enriched meal comes from fat sources, meaning that we burn more and store less fat. 
Nuts and heart disease risk

Including nuts as part of your diet  has been linked with a lower risk of heart disease. 
Although high in fats, nuts are good sources of healthy fats (such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats), and are low in (unhealthy) saturated fats. 
Nuts also help to maintain healthy blood vessels and blood pressure (through their arginine content), and reduce inflammation in the body as they are high in antioxidants. 

The Dietary Guidelines recommend 30 grams of nuts on most days of the week for adults. 
One serving quals approximately 30 grams – or 1/3 of a cup (or one handful). 
Since all nuts have a similar nutrient content, a wide variety of nuts can be included as part of a healthy diet. This equal to about:

  • 30 almonds 
  • 10 Brazil nuts 
  • 15 cashews 
  • 20 hazelnuts 
  • 15 macadamias 
  • 15 pecans 
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts 
  • 30 pistachios
  • 10 whole walnuts or 20 walnut halves 
  • a small handful of peanuts or mixed nuts.
How to include nuts in your diet

Different types of nuts have slight differences in their vitamin and mineral content, so eating a variety of nuts will increase your levels of various nutrients. Tips on how to make nuts and seeds a part of your diet include:

  • Instead of snacking on biscuit or piece of cake as a snack, have a handful of raw or dry roasted nuts. 
  • Combine nuts and seeds with low-energy dense foods (such as vegetables). This is a good way to enhance vegetable-based meals – such as in Asian-style dishes or added to a salad.
  • If you are vegan or vegetarian, nuts and seeds are a good protein substitute for meats, fish and eggs.  They also contain fat, iron, zinc and niacin. You may need more than 30 grams of nuts and seeds a day to ensure adequate protein. 
  • Eat them with vitamin C rich foods and add them to drinks (such as tomato, capsicum, orange and citrus juices) to boost your iron absorption.
  • There is no need to soak or remove the skin of nuts (or ‘activate’ them) unless you prefer the flavour and texture of soaked nuts. In fact, the skin of nuts is high in phytochemicals that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 
  • Roasting nuts (either dry or in oil) enhances their flavour but has little impact on their fat content. This is because nuts are physically dense and cannot absorb much oil, even if they are submerged in it. Most nuts only absorb 2% of extra fats. 
  • Salted nuts are not recommended due to their higher sodium content – especially if you have high blood pressure. Save salted nuts for parties and make raw and unsalted roasted nuts your everyday choice.
*Nuts can trigger allergic reactions

All tree nuts, peanuts and seeds may trigger life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) in those with nut allergies.  Unlike many other allergies where children seem to ‘grow out of it’, peanut allergies tend to persist into adulthood. *

For a superly simple recipe for Nut Butter please see last months letter M – Macadamia Nuts here .. You can use any nut and if you get the roasting part just right you really need only a little nut oil added in the blending. I don’t add any salt just roasted nuts and a little walnut oil if needs be…..A lovely afternoon snack with half an apple, pear or banana. Great in smoothies and of course on toast without butter!

If you are looking for a savoury recipe using walnuts then Pinch of Yum is the place to look – the chili is outstanding! Rob has this super dish down pat now and it is really one that has caught friends off guard, it doesn’t taste like nuts!

So that leaves us with another selection and if you do end up making any of the above recipes – please let us know if you enjoyed them or not!
I always try and keep recipes that I am sharing about nutritional benefits and sometimes just because it’s nice to try something different!

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

― Hippocrates

I do try to add in information for those with IBS or Allergies, all that I have researched is taken from sites such as the NHS, Monash or other trusted sites such as Wikipedia.
For most of us, fruits and vegetables are a key part of a healthy diet. While experts suggest aiming for two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables daily, eating even more vegetables is probably better. The one exception: juice. Fruit and vegetable juices often contain natural and added sugar and they’re stripped of fibre.

A rainbow of colours on your plate will ensure you are getting the right nutrients in your diet, if you can’t eat something due to health issues, there are always alternatives, and whether you feel you can’t eat it because it’s not a nice taste, or you have visions of it slopped up on your plate at school meals, then choose other ways of cooking or serving, sometimes we need to just try something different (unless you have allergies then please don’t!)

From Letter A to N and everything else in between, articles about Pro and Pre biotics, fatigue fighting foods and more please do hop on over to my website to maybe help start 2022 on the healthier side of life

disclaimer *I’m not a doctor! – these articles are purely for your own takeaway. There is by no means any medical advice given and all articles are sourced from trusted sources, coursework and books I have read and am reading. If you have any health issues then please seek advice of your doctor before approaching a nutritionist. If you would like to talk about any of the issues or foods on my website for a holistic nutrition approach then please contact me directly. I cannot offer advice other than what I have gained holistic nutrition diplomas in.

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