Paleo Cabbage Rolls (Galumpkis) (Paleo)

Sweet Potatoes and Social Change
Boiling Cabbage. Placing the cabbage in the water makes loosening and separating the leaves much simpler. Photo By Samantha McClellan

There is just something about losing your appetite that really makes you think about food. The need to eat is so basic and fundamental to the way we live, or really living at all, that we rarely stop to think about it… unless its gone.

Last week, with my ulcerative colitis in full flare, I had very little desire to eat anything at all. I was simply not hungry. However, at a few random points over the week I found myself with a very strong desire to eat food that I do not normally eat. I wanted cereal, rice, sugar… basically all of the non-paleo food I never eat. Why? Why, when my body needed healthy, healing, food the most did it only want empty calories? I could only come to one conclusion… comfort.

So often, we skim over the need to eat as simply a biological urge, but it is deeper than that. Food is not just a mass of calories, it is emotional, cultural, comforting, and wicked… occasionally all in the same bite. Sometimes, tying our emotions to our food can go too far and lead to some problems, but overall the connection between food, culture, memories, comfort, and happiness is unavoidable.

With this thought in mind, I began looking through cookbooks in search of a healthy comfort food. It didn’t take me long to find what I was looking for. My Aunt Ginny’s Polish Galumpkis (Stuffed cabbage leaves)!

Sweet Potatoes and Social Change
Stuffed and rolled cabbage leaves. Photo By Samantha McClellan

Aunt Ginny was my great aunt, but to me she was a grandmother. She and my great uncle lived in a little house on the outskirts of Baltimore. It had retro green carpet, wood paneled walls, and was covered in funny figurines of angels and animals, but it was one of my favorite houses on earth the entire time I was growing up. Aunt Ginny had one of the thickest Baltimore accents on the planet and she was an amazing cook. Her Thanksgiving pies, all seven of them, were legendary, her mountains of hand crafted cookies at Christmas were incredible, and the steamed crabs we had in the summer were just plain fun, but nothing could make my elementary-school heart soar higher than hearing “Hey Hun, I made Galumpkis!”

I don’t always agree with the concept that children are inherently picky eaters who can only be pleased with noodles and ketchup and this is why. When we had Galumpkis, my little sister and I ate them all! Forkful after forkful, we grew more and more content as my great uncle stood in the background chuckling, “where are you little girls putting all those Galumpkis did you bring a hallow leg?”

So with all of those wonderful memories fresh in my mind and with

Sweet Potatoes and Social Change
The finished Galumpkis! Delicious, warm and comforting with just the right combination of sweetness and tang. Photo By Samantha McClellan

cabbage filling up the stalls at the farmer’s market I was on a mission. The original recipe uses rice, white vinegar, and sugar, all of which are off limits but with a few easy adjustments its perfectly paleo and while mine will never live up to my Great Aunt Ginny’s these tasted pretty close!


1 head of cabbage

1.5 cups of riced Cauliflower

1 medium Onion

2 lbs of ground beef

salt and pepper to taste

1 15oz can of tomato sauce

1 15 oz can of water

1 8oz can of tomato sauce

1 8oz can of water

2 TBS of Honey

2 TBS of apple cider vinegar

salt and pepper to taste


Cut Down and around the heart of the cabbage head to loosen the leaves. Place the loose head of cabbage, heart side down , in a pot of water and bring to a boil. Start loosening the outer leaves and place them on a plate to drain and cool. (2 forks works well for this job) Continue to loosen the outer leaves as they boil until all of the leaves are separated, leave them on a plate to drain and cool. Rice your cauliflower in a blender or food processor. In a bowl, combine 2 lbs of raw ground beef, chopped raw onion, salt and pepper, and cauliflower. Mix together thoroughly. Fill a cabbage leaf with the meat mixture, tuck the ends in, and roll it. Place it in a casserole dish. Repeat until all of the leaves are filled and rolled. In a separate bowl, mix together the honey, vinegar, salt and pepper, all of the tomato sauce, and all of the water. Stir well and pour over the cabbage rolls. Cover the dish with a lid or foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 ½ hours, basting occasionally. Enjoy!


Jesse St. Jean

Jesse St. Jean

I am many things: a wife, a daughter, a sister, a nutritional therapist, a dog-mom… and I’m an autoimmune warrior.


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Nutritional therapist Jesse

Hi, I'm Jesse

I empower women autoimmune warriors to reclaim their health by teaching each woman how to make the right food choices to heal her body while confidently owning her journey so she can live a vibrant life with chronic illness.


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