March is about all things green: shamrocks, leprechauns, green beer… Brussels sprouts? These cute mini cabbages are not traditionally served up on St. Patty’s Day, but perhaps we’ll start a new tradition as they’re full of nutrients and actually quite versatile (grate them like we did for this month’s newsletter recipe—Brussels Sprout Slaw).
Notorious for being the most hated vegetable (until now), Brussels sprouts are making a comeback! These little cabbages grow tightly packed on a long stalk; although tiny they take their time to grow, about 26 to 31 weeks. In recent years, these veggies have become a lot more visible in the produce aisle; they can usually be found year round but are in peak season from in the fall and winter months.
Nutrient Values of Brussels Sprouts
Per ½ cup serving (approximately 4 Brussels sprouts) – 28 calories
• 3.9 g carbohydrate
• 1.7 g fiber
• 1.5 g protein
• 0.13 g fat
• 37.8 g water
Heath Benefits of Brussels Sprouts
Just like red peppers, brussels sprouts are packed with vitamin C: about 48 mg per ½ cup serving. See our Red Pepper 101 post for its health benefits.
Vitamin K belongs to the fat soluble group of vitamins (FSV). They are carried throughout the bloodstream via lipids (fat) and unlike their water soluble counterparts, FSV have the ability to be stored in our bodies and therefore isn’t essential to reach the required levels every day. Like the sunshine vitamin D, our bodies can make its own vitamin K through specific bacteria in the intestines. Recommendations are 120 mcg/day for men, and 90 mcg/day (for adults 19 + years); a ½ cup serving of Brussels sprouts provides 78 mcg of vitamin K.
*Other food sources of vitamin K: broccoli, kale, spinach, soybeans & collards.
Vitamin K Benefits
• Makes blood clotting proteins. When you cut yourself, these proteins help make the bleeding stop.
• Helps make other proteins for your bones, blood, and kidneys.
Folate, a water soluble vitamin, can be found naturally in a variety food like: dark leafy greens, edamame, oranges, beets, broccoli, liver, flaxseed, and asparagus. Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate and it used to fortify foods and supplements. Recommendations for adults (19 years+) is 400 mcg per day, pregnancy changes these requirement to 600 mcg/day, and breastfeeding 500 mcg/day. Four Brussels sprouts (1 serving) provides 85 mcg of folate.
• Involved in making & maintaining cells and DNA
• Prevents anemia
• Helps make red blood cells
• Prevention of neural tube defects
Cruciferous veggies contain a sulphur based phytochemical called glucosinolate, there is great evidence to show that if consumed on a regular basis can reduce the risk of cancer. Yet another great reason to eat your veggies!
How to: Pick & Store Brussels Sprouts
How to pick: Choose sprouts with a nice bright green colour. They should be free of yellow spots or wilted leaves and have a firm, compact head.
How to store: Store unwashed Brussels sprouts in a plastic bag in your fridge’s crisper. If kept refrigerated in a sealed bag, sprouts can last 2 or more weeks.
Trim stems, and remove any loose, wilted or yellow leaves. Rinse under cool water.
There are a few great ways to prepare Brussels sprouts. Notice that all these methods require little cooking time and water, this makes for greatest vitamin retention and flavour!
• Steam with other mixed greens (Tip: cut an “X” on the bottom for even cooking.)
• Roast in the oven with salt and pepper
• Sauté with spices (Cut them in half first)
The trick to making delicious Brussels sprouts is to not overcook them. Overcooked sprouts begin to lose their bright green colour and start to release sulphurous compounds, which is what causes that distinct unpleasant odour.