Brussels sprouts growing on the bush. Photo
The brussels sprouts plant is a beauty: A stalk crowned with large, wide graceful leaves that grows to about four feet tall. The sprouts, edible buds which resemble tiny heads of cabbage, grow from the bottom of the stalk to the top, in an charming progression from smallest to largest.
Brussels sprouts, Brassica oleracea, are members of the cruciferous vegetables group, which is high in cancer-protecting phytochemicals. Other members include arugula, bok choy, broccoli/rabe, cabbage, cauliflower, cress, daikon/radish, horseradish/wasabi, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard greens/ seeds, rutabaga, tatsoi and turnips, among others.
While they are thought of as a winter crop, the vegetable is available almost year-round, with the peak season from September through February.
Few foods are more unpleasant than overcooked brussels sprouts. The same is true with other cruciferous members: excessive heat releases an unpleasant smelling and tasting chemical compound.
But cook them lightly, and they are bites of pleasure. We purchased a whole stalk at Trader Joe‘s yesterday—like the one in the photo, with the leaves removed—and used a good number of the sprouts at lunch on a pizza, with mozzarella and goat cheeses and tomato sauce. As strange as “brussels sprouts pizza” sounds, it is delicious. (Other cruciferous members, like broccoli and arugula, often find themselves topping a pizza.)
BRUSSELS SPROUTS NUTRITION
Brussels sprouts are exceptionally rich in protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, including glucosinolate, an important cancer-fighting phytonutrient. All cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolates, but brussels sprouts are especially potent in this regard.
They are also cholesterol-fighters. Steamed brussels sprouts actually have a have better cholesterol-lowering effect than raw brussels sprouts. The plant fibers do a better job of binding when they’ve been steamed.
Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of vitamin C; one cup provides more than the daily requirement. Vitamin C, along with vitamins A and E, also found in sprouts, protect the body by trapping harmful free radicals. Brussels sprouts are one of the best vegetable sources for vitamin K, which strengthens bones and helps to prevent, or at least, delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
If some people are hesitant to eat brussels sprouts, mix them into a potato salad!
This delicious and nutritious twist on potato salad was a finalist in the United States Potato Board sponsored “Healthy Potato Salad Recipe Redux” challenge. It was developed by Kristina LaRue, RD, LD/N, a dietitian and blogger in Orlando, and sent to us by href=”http://www.PotatoGoodness.com” target=”_blank”>PotatoGoodness.com, which has a treasure chest of potato recipes.
You can use leftover beer; the carbonation isn’t important. So if you feel like only having half a beer, save the rest to marinate vegetables!
A happy marriage: potato salad with brussels sprouts. Photo courtesy Love Zest | Potato Goodness.
RECIPE: BEER ROASTED POTATOES WITH BRUSSELS SPROUTS & BACON
Ingredients For 6 Servings
2 pounds tricolored fingerling potatoes
1 pound brussels sprouts
5 slices bacon, cooked and broken up
1 cup beer
1 teaspoon toasted onion, minced and dried
1 teaspoon garlic, minced and dried
4 fresh rosemary sprigs
1. PREHEAT oven to 450°F. Slice potatoes and brussels sprouts lengthwise.
2. SOAK vegetables in beer in a large bowl for 5 minutes. Place on rimmed baking sheet and top with onion, garlic, rosemary and a bit of salt; drizzle with olive oil.
3. BAKE 45 minutes, stirring halfway through baking. Sprinkle roasted vegetables with kosher salt, break up the bacon, and add extra olive oil if desired.
Here’s another delicious brussels sprouts recipe: Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts with Rosemary and Garlic.