Featured Vegetable: Brussels sprouts

Setting the Record Straight

Poor Brussels sprouts have been given a bad rap. Before you channel your inner child and turn your nose up at these cruciferous veggies, let’s take a moment to become reacquainted with Brussels sprouts. While the true origin of the Brussels sprout is unknown, it is believed that we may have Belgium to thank for these little green globes, as Brussels is the capital of Belgium.1 Brussels sprouts, cabbage’s cousin, have so much to offer, so read on and see why it’s time to give them another chance.

Start off on the Right Foot

In order to have a successful reunion with Brussels sprouts, it’s important to pick the perfect ones. In the produce aisle, you can either buy them still attached to their stalk, or already picked off. Regardless of which form you choose, follow these simple guidelines to get the best Brussels sprouts for your buck. First, look for sprouts that aren’t too big. Smaller sprouts are actually sweeter!2 Next, you want to find ones that are a vibrant green, not yellowing or wilted. Finally, pick out sprouts that have tight, compact leaves. Brussels with looser leaves are more likely to taste bitter.1 It helps to look for sprouts that are similar in size so when you cook them, they all finish cooking at the same time.

Store Your Sprouts Right

Now that you have small, compact, bright green Brussels in your kitchen, make sure you store them correctly.1 Brussels sprouts have the best flavor when they’re fresh, so if you’re still on the fence about them, plan to use them within a day or two of buying them to give them a fair chance. To keep them as fresh as possible, remove any damaged outer leaves on the sprouts and store them unwashed in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the fridge until you’re ready to eat them.1 If you realize that you won’t be able to eat all of the Brussels sprouts you bought and you have more sprouts than you know what to do with, you can freeze them and save them for later. Just wash and blanch them and stick them in zip top bags before freezing them.

Don’t know how to blanch? Place the Brussels sprouts in boiling water for a couple of seconds and then remove and plunge them instantly into a bowl of ice water in order to stop the cooking process.

Take a New Approach to Cooking Brussels Sprouts

The proper preparation can be the difference between bitter Brussels and gourmet sprouts. If you cook Brussels sprouts for too long (more than 10 minutes), they’ll start losing their bright green color and can also lose a lot of their nutritional value as well.1 Who wants that? Instead of boiling them for an hour until they are entirely mushy and overcooked (likely the reason you detested Brussels sprouts in the first place), prepare them with a little more finesse. If you plan on cooking your Brussels sprouts whole, cut an “X” in the bottom of each sprout to help it to cook evenly. That way, the sprout will cook through to the center without overcooking the outside leaves.1 You can also roast, sauté, steam or even microwave them!3 If you have bigger Brussels sprouts, you can cut them in half to decrease the cook time. With the right seasonings and spices, you can turn a misunderstood mushy veggie into a tender, delicately flavored and refined new favorite.

What’s in a cup?

It is truly amazing how much goodness is in just one cup of Brussels sprouts. A cup of cooked Brussels sprouts has a mere 56 calories, but is filled with beneficial vitamins and minerals. These little sprouts pack a punch, with 4 grams of fiber, a good source of potassium and vitamin A, and an excellent source of vitamins C, E and K.4 With fiber to aid in digestion and help you to feel full, vitamin A to help your vision, vitamin C to aid in wound healing, potassium to help with muscle contraction and vitamin K to promote healthy blood clotting, there are very few reasons NOT to eat them.5 So next time somebody tells you that you can’t eat dessert until you finish your Brussels sprouts, thank them for the sprouts and dig in!


Try this recipe for Herbed Brussels Sprouts:

http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/herbed-brussels-sprouts


References

  1. Brussels Sprouts.
    http://urbanext.illinois.edu/veggies/brusselssprouts.cfm
  2. Selecting Brussels Sprouts.
    http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/video/VideoCenter.php?Auto=1&start=0&Video=155&SuperSubID=125
  3. Brussels Sprouts Food $ense Guide to Eating Fresh Fruits and Vegetables.
    http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/FN_Food$ense_2012-01pr.pdf
  4. USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory.
    http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2866?fg=&man=&lfacet=&count=&max=&qlookup=&offset=&sort=&format=Abridged&_action_show=Apply+Changes&Qv=1&Q5296=1.0&Q5297=.5
  5. Vitamins and Minerals.
    http://fnic.nal.usda.gov/food-composition/individual-macronutrients-phytonutrients-vitamins-minerals/vitamins-minerals
 

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V8 V-Fusion® Green Smoothie

Yield: 4 cups
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup V8 V-Fusion® Strawberry Banana Juice
  • 1 ea avocado
  • 1 cup kale, shredded
  • 1 ea green apple
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 Tbsp ginger
  • 1 ea lime juice
  • 1 ea lime zest

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until very smooth.

Nutrition Information: 160 Calories, 8g Fat, 1.6g Saturated Fat, 4g Monounsaturated Fat, 1.4g Polyunsaturated Fat, 27mg Sodium, 480 mg Potassium, 23g Carbohydrate, 6g Fiber, 13g Sugar, 2.5g Protein, 70% Vitamin A, 90% Vitamin C, 4% Calcium, 5% Iron