✓Low-carb ✓Ketogenic ✓Gluten-free ✓Grain-free ✓Dairy-free ✓Nut-free
Prep time: 10 minutes.
Coleslaw is one of my favourite salads: crunchy, tangy and colourful. It is sufficiently weighty to accompany roast or grilled meats, and works alongside hot or cold foods. Great with roast chicken, pulled pork, burgers, steaks or thick sliced ham. A large bowl of coleslaw served with party food or at a BBQ will be welcome and is a surprising favourite with kids. Unlike many salads coleslaw keeps well in the fridge and stays appetising for a couple of days, so it can be prepared in advance, and in quantity if necessary.
Cabbages (and brassicas in general) are famed for their sulphur-containing compounds which have anti-cancer and immune boosting properties. Coleslaw is one of the few ways that makes these raw veggies genuinely delicious!
Why make your own?
One of the key reasons for making your own coleslaw is that you control the ingredients. Here is a list taken from a major supermarket preprepared coleslaw. I’ve highlighted the ingredients I don’t want in my diet:
There is no need for cows dairy (several in my family are intolerant), stabilising gums, and some of my family can’t have citrus, so the lemon juice is out too! The sugar, at least, is low in the shop one (1.5%) I looked at, but some brands have up to 5% sugar! Yuk. Also, I like to use red cabbage (which very few commercial varieties include) to give my coleslaw extra colour and extra phytonutrients.
A perfectly good coleslaw dressing can be achieved using a good quality mayonnaise. I do sometimes make my own mayonnaise but there are some excellent products available off the shelf, so if you don’t want to go the whole hog by making your own, I recommend choosing a quality mayo without sunflower oil in it.
I recommend Stokes Mayonnaise or Farrington’s ‘Mellow Yellow’, both of which are available at Waitrose.
Rapeseed Oil (75%), Free Range Pasteurised Whole Egg (12%), Water, Extra Virgin Olive Oil (5%), Unrefined Raw Cane Sugar, Acid: Acetic Acid, Sea Salt, Mustard Flour
Mellow Yellow® Rapeseed Oil (70%), Free Range Pasteurised EggYolk (12%) (Egg Yolk, Salt), Water, Dijon Mustard (Water, MustardSeeds, Spirit Vinegar, Salt), Sugar, White Wine Vinegar, Concentrated Lemon Juice
The ingredients in Stokes is pretty simple, and being dairy and citrus-free, without any weird gums, it gets my vote. It even contains a little extra virgin olive oil!
Mellow Yellow’ may have an advantage by using cold pressed rapeseed oil, although this a complex subject dependent on seed moisture content, drying and roasting protocols, not just hot or cold pressing (see this paper). Like Stokes, it has no weird ingredients, but it does have lemon juice, so is unsuitable for those who are sensitive to citrus. The yellow colour comes from the unfiltered has a stronger flavour
I know that some people balk at rapeseed oil (aka ‘Canola’ in the US) which both of these mayos contain. The concern is, perhaps, that being seed oils they are high in pro-inflammatory omega-6 PUFAs. However, rapeseed is one of the few seed oils high in omega 3 (albeit in the form of alpha linolenic acid, ALA) leading to it having a near ideal n6:n3 ratio of 2:1. Also, this is the only part of my diet where I use seed oils, so for me it’s certainly not a deal breaker.
Both producers offer a garlic version of their mayo too if that’s your thing.
As mayonnaise is so high in fat, and the vegetables are so low in carbs, the coleslaw you make will be ketogenic, with a ketogenic ratio in the region of 4:1 or higher.
Coleslaw (serves 6)
- ¼ small Red cabbage
- ¼ small White cabbage
- 2 medium carrots, or 1 large one
- ½ Onion (white or red)
- 4+ desert spoons of mayonnaise
Shred the cabbage as finely as you can, using a sharp carving knife. Grate the carrot using the course, not fine, side of your grater, and shred the onion as finely as you can. Place in a bowl with the dollops of mayonnaise and mix thoroughly, ensuring that everything is evenly coated.
We love our recipe just as-is, but it is a great starting point for experimentation, and as long as you keep it crisp and pungent by basing it around cabbage it’ll technically still be a ‘slaw’. So you might want to give some of these suggestions a go:
Try with a mix of green cabbages, crisp lettuce or Japanese cabbage. Small amounts of grated beetroot, celeriac, celery or Florence fennel are possible too. Radish or the oriental daikon or mooli root will add a peppery hotness. I often add grated courgette.
For a lighter variation you can replace half of the mayonnaise with yoghurt (sheep or goat’s yogurt can be used if you are off cow’s milk dairy products). This will make it less ketogenic though.
Grated cheese works well as a high protein additive. Goat or sheep’s hard or semi hard cheeses suit my family’s dietary needs.
Salt, pepper and celery seed are worth a try. For more tang add a splash of cider vinegar.