If you were like most kids, you hated Brussels sprouts along with peas, broccoli and the like. I used to take a mouthful of any vegetable I didn’t like and swallow it down with a gulp of milk. That, or mixing them into my mashed potatoes. Anything to avoid actually eating them.
Boy how times have changed. I love Brussels sprouts and nearly all other vegetables. Most kids grow out of their disdain for them [note a lot of it has to do with their maturing taste buds; vegetables like Brussels sprouts can have a hyper-bitter taste. Relax, let kids eat the vegetables and other foods they like and they’ll learn to appreciate other foods in their own sweet time].
Deserving of a second chance
Most have memories of over-boiled, mushy Brussels sprouts. I happen to love them like that, but there is no shortage of creative ways to enjoy these kick-ass crucifers. Oven-roasting them brings out a sweetness that otherwise is lost with boiling. When cooked properly, they’ll have an almost nutty flavour and crispy edges. Roasting them helps to temper the bitterness that some find a tad harsh. It also helps to minimize the sulfurous odour that many find offensive [spoiler alert, it’s the sulfur that makes these vegetables detoxifying, cancer-fighting superstars].
Brassica or crucifer?
Both are fine. Brassica is a type of plant in the mustard family, informally called a crucifer. Besides Brussels sprouts, other vegetables in this category include cauliflower, arugula, radish, turnip, kale, cabbage, Swiss chard, rapini, Bok choy, watercress and more. These vegetables pack a lot of nutrition yet cost very little in terms of calories. They have vitamin C, K, potassium, fiber, vitamin B6 and the mineral manganese.
Supplying essential nutrients such as these is important but this class of vegetables delivers a whole lot more.
Fighting cancer – research continues to support the observation that those who eat more crucifers have lower rates of cancer. Several phytonutrients, or plant compounds in crucifers such as Brussels sprouts have been identified as having potent cancer-fighting properties; sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol in particular. They work by helping to support the liver’s detoxification abilities; neutralizing toxins and other cancer-causing compounds and converting them into a form that can be excreted by the body via urine and stool. Eating fiber-containing foods at each meal helps to clear the toxins that are released by the liver and gallbladder which are embedded into bile [eat and bile is released to digest foods and toxins piggyback on the bile which bind with fiber and then are pooped out!].
Maintaining vision – Brussels sprouts contain an amazing carotenoid called lutein. Lutein helps to reduce the risk for both cataracts and macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in those over the age of 50. I’ve written extensively on the role of lutein and macular degeneration here.
Incorporating more Brussels sprouts into your diet is easy
Try to find sprouts that are smaller in size as these will be sweeter and more tender. Make sure the leaves are tight and firm; loose leaves means they are older. Avoid those that are yellowing. Store in the fridge.
Easy ways to enjoy Brussels sprouts:
- chop finely and sautee in olive oil with onions and garlic
- toss with olive oil and roast
- cut in half, toss with maple syrup and chili sauce like Sriracha and roast
- slice them very thinly and mix raw into salads
More Brussel Sprouts Recipes