Veggies A-Z: B for Brussels Sprouts

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the same experience when I tell guests I’ll be serving these cute little crucifers as part of a dinner I’m hosting, or suggest to a client that they incorporate them into their weekly eating regime. “Eew! I hate them!” or “My mom used to steam the heck out of them and the whole house would stink” are just a couple of examples of the not-so-enthusiastic responses I’ve gotten. (Incidentally, they only stink if they’re overcooked!) In fact, a 2008 survey conducted by Heinz revealed that Brussels sprouts are the most-hated vegetable in America! Fortunately, all it takes is a little bit of being open minded and creative in the kitchen in order to flip this line of thinking on its head. Why are they called what they’re called? Forerunners to modern Brussels sprouts were likely cultivated in ancient Rome. Brussels sprouts as they are now known were grown possibly as early as the 13th century in what is now Belgium. Let’s start with why eating these little guys makes sense from a nutritional standpoint. First of all, Brussels sprouts are rich in many valuable nutrients. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K. They are a very good source of numerous nutrients including folate, manganese, vitamin B6, dietary fiber, choline, copper, vitamin B1, potassium, phosphorus, and omega-3 fatty acids. Brussels sprouts are said to be bred from wild cabbages found in Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In Chinese medicine, they are prescribed to improve digestive health. Next, because Brussels sprouts are a cool season crop, best planted in the summer for a fall harvest, they offer a little variety to the fall or winter table when many other veggies are unavailable locally. Brussels Sprouts are also a great addition to a low carbohydrate, higher fat approach to eating, as their glycemic index is only 15 while their net carb contribution is only 5.1 grams per 100 gram serving. Last, but far from least… the taste! Granted, if your history with sprouts is in keeping with the scenario described above, it may take some persuasion to get you eating them, but with my recipe for roasted sprouts with shallots, you’ll be sure to turn yourself, and your family from a sprout hater to a lover! So once you’ve transformed into a Sprout eater, and fallen in love with their flavor, just as with any veggie, or any food for that matter, keep it in balance. There is such a thing as too much sprouts, and for certain populations, being careful about not eating them in excess becomes even more important. Specifically, anyone on anticoagulant medication needs to be wary of eating too many of the cruciferous vegetables, which are high in blood clot-promoting vitamin K as they counteract the effects of this type of medication. If this is you, check with your naturopath or functional medicine doctor to see if you’re at risk. What’s that? You don’t have either? Maybe that’s step one! Oops- got off on a bit of a tangent there, but circling back to sprouts; get to know them, cook, them, eat them and maybe even grow them yourself!