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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Brussels Sprouts Revisited



Brussels Sprouts Revisited:

About:

The Brussels sprout is a variety of cabbage grown for its edible buds.  The Brussels sprout has long been popular in Brussels, Belgium and may have originated there.   Brussels sprouts are cruciferous vegetables in the same family as collard greens, broccoli, kale, and kohlrabi.  Brussels sprouts grow clustered on a thick stalk but are most often sold loose or packaged in pint size cartons. 


History:

Production of Brussels sprouts in the U.S. began in the 18th century, when French settlers brought them to Louisiana.  Thomas Jefferson grew them at Monticello.  

My Story:

What I remember about Brussels Sprouts in the supermarkets is they most often were packaged in one pound cup covered with cellophane.  After a time the outer leaves of the Brussels Sprouts would  begin to turn black.  We would open up the package and trim off the butt end the the dark leaves and re-package them for sale usually at a lower price. 

Health Benefits:

Brussels sprouts contain good amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid and dietary fibre.   They provide special nutrient support for three body systems that are closely connected with cancer development  as well as cancer prevention.  These three systems are 1) the body's detox system, 2) its antioxidant system, and 3) its inflammatory/anti-inflammatory system.   Chronic imbalances in any of these three systems can increase the risk for cancer.   Brussels sprouts intake is most associated with the prevention of these cancers: bladder cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and ovarian cancer. 

Uses:

Brussels sprouts can be boiled, steamed, stir fried, grilled, or roasted.   As with many other healthful vegetables boiling results in significant loss of anti-cancer compounds.  Care should be taken to not over cook Brussels sprouts.  Over cooking will turn buds gray and soft, and then develop a strong flavor and taste that some people dislike. 

Season:

Brussels sprouts are available most of the year.  California is the largest producer of Brussels sprouts  in the U.S.  and they are available October through March.  Brussels sprouts are also grown on Long Island and upper New York state.  These can mostly be found on the market in the fall.  

Selecting and Storing:

Select fresh green sprouts free of wilt, yellowing, or spots.  Buy them on the stalk if you can.   Cut Brussels sprouts will keep in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for up to ten days.

Cooking:

 To cook rinse and remove any wilted or yellow leaves.  Score the stem ends with a knife.  Put into a large pot of boiling salted water and cook just until tender (about 7-10 minutes).   You can steam, which is actually preferred, just until tender (about  10-15 minutes).  Be careful not to overcook. 

Here are some common toppings or additions for Brussels sprouts:  balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, bacon, pistachios, pine nuts, mustard, brown sugar, and pepper.

So............ Eat up!  Enjoy!  I'll show you how.

Simple but good:

Dressed Brussels Sprouts:

1 lb. fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 medium cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
1/4 cup shelled pecans
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional:  1 tablespoon dijon mustard; 1 tablespoon minced parsley

In a steamer let steam build up and then add quartered Brussels sprouts.
Let steam for 5 minutes.  Transfer sprouts to a bowl and add other ingredients and toss.  Serve warm. 


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