Category Archives: Nutrition

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!

Plants – Eat More for Better Health

plants fruits vegetables

Plants – More is Better!

We are learning more every day about how important it is to eat more plants, specifically more fruits and vegetables.  Why is this such of an important part of healthy nutrition?

Whole fruits and vegetables are exploding with vitamins, minerals, soluble and insoluble fiber, antioxidants, enzymes, and phytochemicals (plant chemicals).  These nutrition power houses contain literally thousands of nutrients!  Every time you bite into an apple, you are eating over 10,000 different phytochemicals, all which work together synergistically.  Combining certain plant foods together may be even more beneficial than eating them separately.  Researchers estimate that they will identify up to 40,000 phytochemicals!  While isolated vitamins and minerals may serve a purpose at times, we cannot package these isolated nutrients into a pill and expect to have the same impact as eating them.  Therefore, taking a multi-vitamin pill is not a ‘safety net’ and does not take the place of eating a whole food, plant based diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.

More Plants for Better Health!

Research reveals that those who eat the most fruits and veggies are the healthiest.  Therefore, simply eating more plants may help reduce the risk for heart disease, stroke, some cancers, and help manage body weight.  A study in 2014 found that people who consume seven or more portions of vegetables and fruit a day have a 42% lower risk of dying from any cause, compared to those who eat less than one portion.

Our bodies cannot produce these phytonutrients so we must obtain them from the foods that we eat.  How much do you need for optimal health?  How many servings of fruits and veggies should you eat every day?  The experts don’t always agree on how many, but they all agree that most do not eat enough.  It also is dependent upon your age, sex, and activity level.  One recommendation is that adults who engage in less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily should consume 1.5–2.0 cup equivalents of fruit and 2–3 cups of vegetables daily.  While more active adults will need to consume even more.

But according to studies conducted by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), we need to do better.  Less than 18% of adults consume the recommended amount of fruit and less than 14% consume the recommended amount of vegetables.  Furthermore, our children also fail to meet recommendations for the daily amount of both fruit and vegetables.  While 40% of children eat enough fruit to meet daily recommendations, only 7% of children eat enough vegetables.

plants fruits vegetables

Ideas to Help You Eat More Plants!

Our bodies are designed to assimilate real, whole food.  It’s also important to eat a variety.  Different fruits and vegetables contain different nutrients.  Even people who eat a healthy diet tend to eat too much of the same foods.  Be adventurous at your local farmer’s market or in the produce section of your grocery store.  Or start a garden and grow your own.  Increase your nutrition by trying something new!

Here are some ideas on how you can add more plants to your daily diet.

  1. Add fruits and vegetables to your smoothie.  I add carrots and greens (kale, collard greens, spinach, etc.) to my morning smoothie.
  2. For lunch and dinner:
    • build a big salad
    • stir fry veggie main courses
    • soups and stews
    • steam veggies as a side dish
    • coarsely chop broccoli and other vegetables and add to pasta sauce
    • pile veggies on homemade pizza
  3. Snack on raw vegetables and hummus; smoothies; and whole fruits and vegetables (grape tomatoes, bell pepper slices, baby carrots, etc.) 

Change the way you eat and transform your health!  Eat more plants!  Please share your tips to eat more plants below!

To learn more about these fabulous nutrients: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/phytonutrients/