Is that a baby cabbage?

Out of the mouths of babes…while in the produce section, I overhead a child ask her mom this question recently.  Referring to Brussels sprouts, I can understand why she’d ask. And I was actually impressed that she knew what a head of cabbage looked like!

I’ll admit that I wasn’t always a fan of cabbage. I will venture to say that I probably would not eat Brussels sprouts as a child. However, thankfully I’ve grown to love them. I can’t get enough! And since they are packed with nutrition and low in calories, it’s a win-win! More on that later.

The History of Brussels Sprouts

First a little history lesson…Brussels sprouts originated in Northern Europe and were named for the capital of Belgium. The French who settled in Louisiana brought them to the United States. They are members of the cruciferous family of vegetables, which also include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, collard greens, mustard greens, and kale.

Nutrition Powerhouses!

Brussels sprouts are a powerhouse of nutrition. Along with providing powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection from vitamins C, A and E, they are rich in folate and vitamin K. In addition, cruciferous vegetables, like Brussels sprouts, contain large concentrations of sulfur compounds (glucosinolates and isothiocyanates) which are health promoting by helping the liver produce enzymes that help neutralize toxic substances. Also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, Brussels sprouts contain nutrients that are important for eye health.

These robust nutritional treasures also promote healthy skin, promote digestive health, and provide bone building nutrients. Being low in calories, around 60 calories per cup, with 4 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein, they are also an ideal food to help manage a healthy body weight.

Preparing Brussels Sprouts

Store Brussels sprouts in the refrigerator and do not rinse until you are ready to cook. Rinse thoroughly and remove any yellow or loose leaves. Do not soak in water to avoid losing water soluble nutrients. Remove a thin slice from the bottom and half, quarter, or shred per the desired cooking method.

To maximize the health promoting components that form after cutting, let Brussels sprouts sit for 5 minutes before cooking. Cook for at least 5 minutes to increase digestibility and to soften their fibers. However, be careful to not overcook. Overcooking will cause the Brussels sprouts to become soft and mushy and they will lose as much as 50% of their nutrients.

Preparation Ideas

  1. Roast in the oven (cut in half and toss lightly with olive oil; bake at 350 degrees, in a single layer, for about 20-30 minutes. Stir halfway.)
  2. Roast with other veggies (sweet potatoes/potato cubes, turnip cubes, butternut squash cubes, carrot wedges, broccoli florets, onion quarters). Bake the more dense veggies first (potatoes/carrots, etc.) as they take longer to cook. Then add the other vegetables.
  3. Steam for about 5 minutes
  4. Quarter and add to soups, stews, or stir-fries 
  5. Shred Brussels sprouts; add sliced onion and/or sliced bell peppers. Sauté in a cast iron skillet for 6-8 minutes, flipping a couple of times. After that, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle ground black pepper. This is probably my favorite, see pictures below!
  6. Make a raw superfood salad! Shred and leave raw; add kale, shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, broccoli florets, diced bell peppers, diced onion, chickpeas. Then top with a tasty dressing or balsamic vinegar and mix well. (Also a favorite go-to raw salad!)
Before
During (2-3 minutes)
After! Tender, but still crisp, approximately 6-8 minutes.

In conclusion, Brussels sprouts are tasty and make a wonderful addition to a healthy diet. Being low in calories and high in nutrition, they provide a big nutritional bang for your buck!

Please share your comments about Brussels sprouts! Do you love them? Do you hate them? What’s your favorite way to prepare and eat them? I’d love to hear from you!

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