Roasted Beets, Cabbage, and Kale

Why eat the beets, cabbage, red colors

Summary:  This post nails the need for increased variety of vegetables for chronic disease prevention and management and addresses quantities.  It includes a delicious, phytonutrient rich, and quick recipe for eating the beets, cabbage, red colors; this subcategory of vegetables can be a hard sale to your family but you’ll learn in this post why you want to include such.  It is especially timely given the fall seasonal foods now available and your requests for more vegetable recipes.

This recipe is PALEO, SCD, GAPS, AIP, and NIGHTSHADE friendly fare, but not FODMAP friendly unless within your unique re-intro tolerance limits.  Cabbage, beets and onions are fructans, one food compound eliminated on FODMAP unless you’ve reintroduced these vegetables and you know your tolerance quantities.  Keep in mind that FODMAP loads are cumulative, and this recipe contains three fructan foods which bumps up it’s fructan total load.  One family’s tip for integrating cabbage back into their low FODMAP   lifestyle is detailed immediately below the recipe, and perhaps this preparation technique can work for you too.

I am glad to see the word is getting out on the importance of increasing carotenoids,

Carotenoids are a subgroup of phytonutrients that add an incredible health punch to your healing diet.  One healing diet, the WAHLS Protocol, adds so many phytonutrients (along with other foods) that the diet is currently in test for MS management, and the creator, Dr. Wahl reported last year that it has been anecdotal successfully extended for many other health conditions including:

RA. Lupus,  IBD, psoriasis, and neurological such as Parkinson’s and early memory loss/dementia, depression, anxiety, event PTSD (fighter pilots with narcolepsy), traumatic brain injury, as well as diabetes and obesity (to normalize blood sugars), and heart disease atherosclerosis which is now being looked at as possible autoimmune since it is a gut and inflammation issue.

Interestingly, the diet has been shown to statistically significantly increase micronutrient status from baseline to 12 months (see below slide.)  Not surprising really when you realize vegetable wise, these folks (men and tall women) are consuming 9 cups of vegetables a day, 3 cups from each of three categories: greens, colorful, and sulfur rich.  Smaller frames target 6 cups/day. There are other diet requirements as well.

Wahl's Protocol (not the plus version)_Statistically Significant Micronutrient Changes from baseline to 12 months

It is the gist of this diet, vegetable wise, that I want to focus as I do believe this is one part you need to get for chronic disease prevention and management.  In general, when you eat whole foods you get much more than the vitamins; you get thousands of compounds that science has yet to discover and which aren’t present in supplements.  All work synergistically together to give the cells in your body what they need.  

Phytonutrients are one category of compounds found in food.

Fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and teas are rich sources of phytonutrients.  Phytonutrients help slow down the aging process, enhances immunity, and serves as antioxidants. Many subgroups comprise phytonutrients.  Different phytonutrients offer different benefits and work synergistically with each other. One orange contains over 170 different phytonutrients.  

It is important to eat a variety of phytonutrients and to eat vegetable phytonutrients with a healthy fat for absorption.  One strategy is to rotate diet.  So for green phytonutrients, one day add in some kale, the next lettuce, the next spinach, and then beet greens or chard. You can use endless frozen varieties of greens in soups, smoothies, or even added to your eggs, with ease.  Eating wide diverse foods gives more health-promoting phytonutrient benefits.  Here’s what you can do with frozen phytonutrients:

Cooked Eggs with phytonutrients_greens, colors and sulfur rich

The best known phytonutrient subgroups are

  • Carotenoids (over 600 have been identified). If you need a carotenoid refresher, read  MEET THE FATS & BEST SALAD DRESSING OIL, PART1. Carotenoids are:
    • Yellow, orange, and red pigment in fruits and vegetables and
    • Dark, green, leafy vegetables. Surprised? These are not the common yellow color since chlorophyll, the green pigment, masks the rich carotenoid, beta carotene, which greens contain.
  • Flavonoids (polyphenols, isoflavens, and phytoestrogens)  Over 9000 flavonoids have been identified.  Flavonoids are reddish pigments, found in red grape skins and citrus fruits. Polyphenols are found in green tea and berries. Isoflavones are found in peanuts, lentils, soy, and other legumes. 
  • Other phytonutrients include inositol phosphates (phytates), lignans found in flaxseed (phytoestrogens), isothiocyanates and indoles (indoles are found in cruciferous vegetables), phenols and cyclic compounds, saponins, sulfides, and thiols, and therpenes. Some of these are actually anti-nutrients and/or gut irritants.  For example, some chronic kidney disease diets focus on reduced oxalate foods):

    SAD Food Compound Inhibitors
    Slide source Maelán Fontes PhD — Food and Western Disease Beyond Nutrients: Antinutrients,
This recipe targets all three phytonutrient categories used for the WAHLs Protocol healing diet  

which consists of:  greens, colorful, and sulfur rich foods;  Details of each of these categories can be found below the recipe.  Dr. Wahl explains that these categories can be thought of as:

lightbulb2providing your cells what they need and taking away that which interferes with their proper function. 

Everyone can benefit from inclusion of these three categories into their diet; look over the below slides and you’ll see the connection between these foods and immunity, including detox afforded by the sulfur rich category.  This aspect is seconded in the Dana-Farber/Brigham Women’s Cancer Center phytonutrient slide which recommends 1 to 2 servings a day of the sulfur rich foods.  

The significance of detox becomes apparent when you understand that our main liver detox gene, P450, has been crippling by the industrial seed oils ubiquitous in the food system thus hindering our ability to detox; recent studies have found that soybean oil, canola oil (and vegetable oils as they typically contain soybean/canola oil) significantly affect the expression of many genes that metabolize drugs and other foreign compounds that enter the body, suggesting that a soybean oil-enriched diet could affect one’s response to drugs and environmental toxicants. The single most highly represented family of dysregulated genes was that of the [key liver detox] cytochrome P450 (Cyp) genes (30 genes total).  Read this post for more detail.

The unique melds of this recipe:

The simplicity of roasting brings out the richness of the beets and cabbage in this dish; the kale addition lends crunchiness due to it’s roasting.  The sparkling tartness of the lemon juice melds with the seasonings incredibly enhancing the boldness of the vegetables. For speed, look for prepared shredded cabbage mixtures (see below pic). For ease, the cruciferous vegetable mix is roasted at the end simply by scooping the beets to one side and splitting the baking sheet; genius. This recipe is a great way to increase the diversity of vegetables consumed which is known to positively improve microbiome diversity:

Roasted Beet, Cabbage and Kale; eat the red colors

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 8 servings as a side dish. More if topped on salads.

Serving Size: 1/2 cup side dish

Roasted Beet, Cabbage and Kale; eat the red colors

This dish is as delicious as it is gorgeous making it company worthy, but it is great for your healing refrigerator as well. Roasting brings out the richness of the beets and cabbage; the kale addition lends crunchiness due to it's roasting. The sparkling tartness of the lemon juice melds with the seasonings incredibly enhancing the boldness of the vegetables. Use it to top salads or as a stand alone side dish. It's a great way to increase the diversity of vegetables consumed which is known to positively improve microbiome diversity. It is best slightly warmed if straight out of the refrigerator so that the coconut oil melts. This dish is PALEO, SCD, GAPS, AIP, and NIGHTSHADE friendly. Source:


  • 3 medium beets, about 3 cups peeled and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil, unrefined cold-pressed, separated
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 5 cups total of shredded cabbage (red and white), kale, and carrot mixture
  • 1/8 c red (or green) onions, chopped
  • 2 1/2 to 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (to taste)
  • 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper (to taste)


  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Peel the beets using a vegetable peeler. Tip: Gloves keep your hands unstained.
  3. Chop beets and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  4. Dab about 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil on top of the beets and place in the oven for a few minutes to melt the coconut oil; toss the melted coconut oil throughout the beets. Repeat if more coconut oil is needed to lightly coat the beets.
  5. Add cumin and thyme and toss.
  6. Return beets to the oven and roast for 25 minutes tossing halfway. Beets are done when they are firm but tender such that a fork just begins to pierce them easily.
  7. Remove beets from oven and scoop them to one side of the parchment paper.
  8. Add the shredded cabbage mixture and onions on the other side of the parchment paper. Heap the beets so that the cabbage mixture can be spread thinly. Dab the rest of the coconut oil on the cabbage and return to the oven for 2 minutes to melt the coconut oil; toss the melted coconut oil throughout the cabbage.
  9. Return to oven and roast for 3 to 5 minutes to desired degree of crispiness and tenderness. Tip: If you have a heaping amount of cabbage mixture, toss the cabbage midway in order to roast all.
  10. Place roasted beets and cabbage mixture in a serving bowl.
  11. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to blend, adjusting flavors to taste.
  12. Enjoy this topped on salads or as a stand alone side dish.
  13. Tip: For leftovers, slightly warm this dish when coming straight out of the refrigerator so that the coconut oil melts.


This recipe is incredibly forgiving and easily changed up for your personal preferences.

For speed and ease, look for prepared shredded cabbage mixtures. Beets can also be prepared ahead of time.

If you are eating low FODMAPS: beets, cabbage and onions are fructans necessitating understanding of individual tolerance quantity levels learned on reintroduction. Perhaps such permits use of this dish as a salad topping if you learn you are fructan sensitive.

One family solution for tolerating cabbage on low FODMAPS:

“Cabbage – a fabulous way to solve this problem is to cut the cabbage quite finely, into a bowl, salt it quite well, stir it about to ensure it’s all salty [or do it in layers when your fingers learn how much salt to use] and then place another bowl on top and a really heavy rock [or something quite weighty] on it. Leave it a minimum of 3 hours, and when you remove the weight, drain the cabbage – quite a lot of liquid should come out, along with whatever it is that causes bloating. You can also take the shredded cabbage and squeeze it to remove a bit more liquid. ‘Wilted’ cabbage! I’ve been doing this for my fairly fructan sensitive family for a good while, voila, no farts anymore! Use the cabbage for coleslaw, or any kind of salad that takes your fancy.” -Commenter to Mark’s Daily Apple, A Primal Primer: FODMAPs

What’s going on with eating your phytonutrients which most are deficient of, and why you want to as soon as you can if eliminated on a healing diet. You actually are feeding your non-human self

When you eat to feed your trillions and nourish your non-human self, you bloom microbiome species that produces it’s own by-products which includes vitamins, and anti-inflammatory metabolites that reduces inflammation.

Actually, many are incredibly phytonutrient deficient and such deficiency is associated with disease including cancer:

A lot of healing diets temporarily eliminate specific phytonutrients.

Foods eliminated on a healing diet is not supposed to be a life sentence.  The whole point of healing diets is to heal the gut and improve digestive enzyme capability along with microbiome adjustment so that foods eliminated can be successfully reintroduced, even if tolerance levels are necessary, unless there are true allergy reactions such as nuts, dairy, eggs, or shellfish, etc., or reactions that stimulates the immune system.   So gluten would never be reintroduced for those with celiac or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.  Conventional dairy may similarly cause immune over stimulation for many but fermented, A2 casein, or goat milk type dairy may be tolerated for some.

Insights into reintroduction of healing diet eliminated foods

Examples of healing diets, focusing only on elimination of phytonutrient foods, include:

FODMAPS initially eliminates a lot of prebiotics, see this post for FODMAPS specifics. Some foods eliminated include: wheat, rye, legumes, onions, garlic, mushrooms, avocados, stone fruits, and apples. These foods are not absorbed in the small intestine but rather are fermented by bacteria and then absorbed.  Prebiotic foods are actually great for increasing microbiome diversity and richness (see the below resistant fermentable fiber chart). But if you lack enzymes or bacteria species that properly ferment such, IBS symptoms result.  FODMAPS diet addresses this and helps resolve symptoms in over 70% of IBS patients (see this FODMAP post).  So 3 out of 4 IBS patients are helped eating FODMAPS. The diet doesn’t however eliminate these foods from your diet forever; you reintroduce and learn tolerance levels.


NIGHTSHADES eliminates potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, and bell peppers which contain lectins which can cause immune system over-activation.  

Other diets like SCD or GAPS eliminates vegetables that are high starch loads such as potatoes sweet potatoes, yams, yucca, and taro due to digestion intolerance of poly and di-saccharides.  

Wahl’s Protocol  for MS does the opposite and focuses on inclusion of many phytonutrients: 9 cups each of greens, colors, and sulfur rich. The keystone of the diet is that vegetables are tolerated by most when foods are eliminated that are deleterious to anyone with chronic disease, and those most likely to cause food sensitivity for many folks, such as gluten, dairy and legumes.

Dr. Wahl explains that her big MS health gains occurred once she replaced supplementation with real food:

“It occurred to me, that I should get my long list of nutrients from food [rather than supplements]. That if I did that, I would probably get hundreds and maybe thousands of other compounds that science had yet to name, that would be helpful to my brain and my mitochondria.” ~ Dr. Terry Wahls 

I don’t want to be on Jonathon Eisen’s Overselling the Microbiome list

So, at this point, I am noting for the record, that it is not known what specific constituents of whole food diet interacts to effect specific disease states.  Claims of such are overselling the microbiome and this should not be confused with recognition that the power of healing diets to help manage illness is real and makes sense given that almost any dietary compound acts on the gut microbiome and that has profound effects of the immune system.  Eisen points out the study, “Lupus Studies Point to Gut Microbes, Epigenetics as nicely tempering the claims, and I applaud the insights of this physician:

In the clinical setting, Dr. Kriegel recommended that patients pay a little more attention to what effects various diets may have on their disease. “The long-standing anecdotal patient reports of certain diets worsening or improving flares might be more real than we thought. They should be studied more systematically, now that we know that almost any dietary component acts on the gut microbiota, [which] in turn has profound effects on the immune system,” Dr. Kriegel said. He also warned that patients should not assume that the various “probiotic” products now available to consumers would have a beneficial effect in lupus. “Probiotics could theoretically even worsen a disease state, since it is possible that physiologic immune responses against benign commensals could fuel autoimmune responses via cross-reactivity (as we hypothesize) or other mechanisms,” he said.

Dr. Kriegel concluded, “I think the best will be to wait until we have a better understanding of which commensals or commensal-derived products might be driving which autoimmune disease and then target those with a diet that is known to modulate these strains or products. Ideally, the field will also develop eventually novel types of antibiotics or vaccinations against certain commensals. Such approaches would allow us, in the future, to more specifically modulate the gut microbiota in autoimmunity.”

Recognize there’s more to whole food managing chronic disease than the nutrients

The gut microbiome influences the immune system and inflammation in a profound way.  I especially like how Sarah Ballantyne, in this post, explains the need to increase diversity and quantity of vegetables and fruits tackling the healing diets which often seems to eliminate many.  Her point, well taken, is to think of such as increasing our bodies ability to heal beyond the micronutrients. The post was written in 2013, when microbiome studies of impact to health were only beginning to hit the press.  Her statement,  If you are severely restricting your vegetable intake, you are hindering your gut microbiome from normalizing in diversity, numbers and location–i.e., you are slowing down your healing process,”  was spot on and somewhat ahead of it’s time.

lightbulb2Essentially what you are doing by increasing vegetable diversity and consumption, is providing  enough varying substrate to bloom beneficial microbiota thereby increasing its diversity which is associated with improved health, wellness, and vitality. The fastest way to change the microbiome is to change the diet excepting of course, the nuke of antibiotics. 

Whole foods have more fiber and vegetable matter than the standard American diet which is a lot of refined carbohydrates.  The trillions of beasties in your large intestine adapt very quickly to changes in diet. You are feeding them and your food choices are blooming those species that like the meal.  The microbiome community constituents can increase inflammation that is being associated with Western diseases such as obesity and Type 2 Diabetes,   autoimmune disease (RA, IBDMS)  asthma, and  here, autism,  cardiac and metabolic metabolic diseases, and gut-brain axis related illnesses such as anxiety and depression.  The composition of the gut microbiome can even alter behavior in mice; treatment with particular probiotics can also improve anxiety behaviors (mostly in rodents, but there are limited findings in humans as well). The gut bacterial variance, and appearance in health and disease (IBD) is below:

There are lots of strategies to learn tolerance levels:

Prepping food to be most easily digested is the first approach to successful reintroduction.  This involves cooking vegetables (peeled and deseeded) in soup recipes and drinking the broth. The next progression is to mash or puree the cooked vegetables and add them into soups or stews.  Once this is well tolerated, steamed or cooked vegetables can then be introduced.  All of these techniques breaks down the fiber but you still get the nutrition.  Reintroduction phases progress by decreasing the breakdown of fiber.  The next prep stage would include cooking or sauteing vegetables in healthy fats.  Following this, raw vegetables are blended in smoothies, and last, the whole raw vegetable or salad is consumed.

Some vegetable intolerance is due to insufficient or lack of enzymes necessary to digest certain phytonutrient rich foods. Journal to learn if altered preparation works; introduce vegetable and fruit loads slowly to allow your digestive enzymes and microbiome to adjust.  If you have marked reaction, honor that and avoid that food for a period of time, perhaps a few months, to allow gut healing. Perhaps reintroduce with the intent of tolerating such food once a week at the beginning testing alternate food preparation strategies.  The goal is to reintroduce and consume foods originally eliminated on healing diets unless there is a true allergy or intolerance in which case, they shouldn’t be consumed at all.

Current testing status for the WAHLs Protocol

This diet’s status currently is in single small pilot feasibility studies with grants written to the MS Society (seeking ~$300 to $350K awarded for over 3 to 4 years).  After these they will do effectiveness studies (~200 people requiring ~$500k for randomized control study).  The future outlook is that the Wahl’s Protocol, diet and lifestyle study, will become the first intervention instead of current MS therapy, according to Dr. Wahl.

In conclusion,

There’s more happening in your body and it’s response to immunity consuming whole foods and ditching the processed than just the micronutrients.  When you eat to feed your trillions and nourish your non-human self, you bloom microbiome species that produces it’s own by-products which includes vitamins, and anti-inflammatory metabolites that reduces inflammation.  Even those on the restrictive healing diets need to try to reintroduce and learn tolerance levels for foods eliminated that are not true food allergies or immune stimulating foods.  Maybe tweaking cabbage as the above commenter found can work for you.

Hoping you enjoy the red colors of this Roasted Beet, Cabbage and Kale recipe during the celebration of your fall.

Last updated: November 1, 2017 at 13:23 pm for SEO optimization.

In health through awareness,


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