The origins of Brussels sprouts are vague, as some pre-date the vegetable as far back as Roman times and many others in different parts of the globe say later. None-the-less, these little globular green treats have gone from being yucky on your plate as a child to wildly popular in restaurants and can prepared in many unique ways.
The website World’s Healthiest Foods describes, better than any, the healthy aspects of including Brussels sprouts in your diet. Brussels sprouts can provide you with some special cholesterol-lowering benefits if you use a steaming method when cooking them. The fiber-related components in Brussels sprouts do a better job of binding together with bile acids in your digestive tract when they’ve been steamed, resulting in lowering cholesterol levels. Raw Brussels sprouts still have cholesterol-lowering ability — just not as much as steamed Brussels sprouts.
Brussels sprouts may have unique health benefits in the area of DNA protection as well. A recent study has shown improved stability of DNA inside of our white blood cells after daily consumption of Brussels sprouts in the amount of 1.25 cups.
Brussels sprouts are also now known to top the list of commonly eaten cruciferous vegetables for containing high amounts of glucosinolate. Their total glucosinolate content has been shown to be greater than the amount found in mustard greens, turnip greens, cabbage, kale, cauliflower or broccoli. In Germany, Brussels sprouts account for more glucosinolate intake than any other food – except broccoli. Glucosinolates are important nutrients for our health because they are the chemical starting points for a variety of cancer-protective substances. All cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolates and have great health benefits for this reason. But it’s recent research that’s made us realize how especially valuable Brussels sprouts are in this regard.
The cancer protection we get from Brussels sprouts is largely related to four specific glucosinolates found in this cruciferous vegetable: glucoraphanin, glucobrassicin, sinigrin and gluconasturtiian. Research has shown that Brussels sprouts offer these cancer-preventive components in special combinations.
All those benefits sound great, but I’m no doctor. What I do know is that these leafy gems are quite delicious when prepared correctly.
Here I am going to give you a few simple methods for making tasty snacks with Brussels and hopefully it will inspire you to come up with your own versions. I would love to hear what you came up with, so please send an e-mail and let me know!
This must be the easiest, yet my favorite, way to make a delicious snack you won’t be able to stop eating.
Simply, trim the very end of your Brussels and cut in half.
In a fairly deep sauce pot (to avoid splashing), add in 2 cups of healthy oil of your choice. We use Canola oil, and sometimes Duck fat, but that’s another story.
When at 350°F, turn off the flame and drop your Brussels into the oil and step away!
They will make a ruckus and splatter a lot.
After they are slightly brown and have stopped making a lot of noise, scoop out with a strainer ladle onto a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the oil.
While still hot, place them into a bowl and toss with your choice of seasoning. I like to use garlic-infused grated Parmesan cheese.
Plain old salt and pepper is great, but you can use Cajun seasoning, BBQ seasoning, curry and cumin, it’s up to you. Even try different sauces like Hollandaise, Béarnaise, Poutine, Cheese or Béchamel… all are fantastic!
Shredded Brussels Salad
(No cooking required)
Brussels sprouts (about ¼ lb per person)
Red bell pepper
¼ cup diced cooked bacon
¼ cup of chipped parmesan cheese
Trim your Brussels and run through a food processor on the shredder attachment.
Put them right into a bowl.
Add in thinly julienned red bell pepper, snow peas, bacon, parmesan cheese and the below vinaigrette.
Toss, chill and enjoy!
Another version of this same dish:
Simply cut your Brussels in half, toss with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and lay out of a sheet pan.
Put tray into a 350° pre-heated oven for 15 minutes or longer depending on your desired doneness. Edges should be crispy, and the middle should be fairly tender.
Chill or get to room temperature, toss with all the same above items and vinaigrette below.
Here is a quick way to make vinaigrette without emulsifying.
Take a 1-quart lidded container (Tupperware?) add to it the below ingredients. Put the lid on tight and shake the daylights out of it.
1 cup Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar (or your favorite)
½ Cup of olive oil of your choice
2 big tablespoons of honey or agave
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
splash of orange juice
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon dry or fresh dill
a pinch of ground cumin
a pinch of Hungarian paprika
This preparation is equally as tasty and fun to munch on…
Cut your Brussels’ bottoms so the leaves fall off individually, you may have to make several cuts to get all the leaves off. Set into a bowl. Toss with olive oil, paprika, cumin, curry, salt and pepper. Spread coated leaves out on a sheet pan and place into a 350°F oven for approximately 10-15 minutes, or until the edges are slightly browned. Cool at room temperature and crunch away.
And last, and maybe least, as homage to your mother, boil the dickens out of them and serve them with salt and butter.
Until next time. Mangia bene!