Here is a vegetable one-liner for the kids (or three to five-liner): “Oh, my! Look at these orbs we’re eating for supper! Did you know that your body is made up of teeny, tiny cells that have to fight all kinds of battles? And these little babies give those cells the weapons they need to go around deactivating destructive powers that could harm your body! ‘Cause they’re full of glucosinolates (glue-koe-sin-uh-lates). How cool is that?”
If that’s too long, try this: “New vegetable time! Whee-haw! Full of glue-koe-sin-uh-lates so you never have to have your guts operated on!”
I’m so sorry, people. We are a bit dramatic at our house. When we fall off of bikes without helmets, we could get “concussions.” When we run in grocery stores, we could knock elderly women down and “break their hips.”
Cruciferous vegetables, like Brussel sprouts, have been shown to decrease stomach and colon cancer. You could soften it and say, “This veggie has glue-koe-sin-uh-lates–to help protect your tummy so you hopefully don’t have to have surgery on it!” I don’t think most kids get the c-a-n-c-e-r word.
However, as you try to force the Brussel (or broccoli or cabbage or so on) issue, you may want to keep in mind some of us may truly have a genetic Brussel-sprout handicap; it’s biological. A gene for bitterness, TAS2R, determines a person’s ability to detect bitterness in compounds (glucosinolates) in vegetables such as broccoli, turnip, and Brussel sprouts– some of us have two copies of this sensitive gene, some have one copy, and some have none.
Are you a so-called Supertaster with two copies of the bitterness tasting gene? You could get genetically tested to find out or maybe instead, just try them in the following sausage recipe. If you don’t like them with sausage (well–who doesn’t like ANYTHING with sausage, or bacon for that matter)–then I say you must be a Supertaster. And that stinks–or maybe it’s just a bitter pill to swallow. But don’t fret, there are reports where the bitter perception may change over time or with age and exposure. Who knows? Try ’em a couple of ways over a few weeks and months before you throw in the towel.
repetition is a key to success.
He who tries only once may fail forever.
Recipe One: Brussels and Sausage (pictured to the left in above photo)
1/2-1 pound of your favorite sausage (US Wellness Meats sells some with no sugar or preservatives)
1 onion, diced/chopped
3 or so cloves of garlic, chopped
About 1-2 pounds of Brussel sprouts
Salt and pepper to taste
Skillet with a lid (in my haste I grabbed a lid for a smaller pan but it worked great, allowing some of the steam to escape and evenly brown the Brussel sprouts)
1. Wash and drain Brussels. Cut into fourths. I don’t mess with them much beyond this, maybe just remove any overtly wilted bad looking leaves before I cut them. Set them aside.
2. Brown sausage in large skillet. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside.
3. Saute onions in sausage drippings until lightly browned over medium heat. Add chopped garlic, Brussel sprouts, and add back in the sausage. Cover skillet with a lid and continue cooking, stirring occasionally so things don’t stick. Your goal here is Brussels that are somewhat steamed, yet browned on the outside–this is where the lid with a smaller circumference than the pan came in handy, allowing some steam to leave so the Brussels are kind of steamed and kind of sautéed. Remove from heat when Brussels are cooked to your liking–I like mine fork tender yet lightly browned.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Recipe 2: Roast brussels (featured to the right in the above photo)
Desired amount of Brussel sprouts, my picture below shows about a pound spread over a large jelly roll pan
Extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Garlic powder, about 1 teaspoonful, or 3 cloves pressed garlic
Optional: thyme, oregano, onion powder (maybe a teaspoonful of each or to your desire)
Parchment paper to line baking sheet for easy clean up and even cooking
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Rinse, drain, and quarter Brussel sprouts.
3.. Line a jelly roll pan or your desired baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper. Lightly coat the parchment paper with a dash of olive oil. The parchment paper is nice because it keeps them from sticking, makes clean-up a cinch, and allows them to brown more easily as they don’t stick to the pan in areas.
4. Put Brussels in a large bowl. Add just enough olive oil to coat the Brussel sprouts. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and either thyme or oregano or both and some onion salt if desired. Mix well.
5. Spread in a single layer spread out apart as much as possible.
6. Roast until many of the Brussel sprouts are lightly browned. Sometimes a few leaves will overbrown, and I pick those out, if I have to keep cooking them so the rest cook well. My family loves the leaves that fall off and get crispy. I have seen recipes where they separate the leaves and toss them with olive oil and spices and roast them until lightly browned and crisp.
Brussel Sprout Notes:
A Cruciferous Vegetable (Power Vegetables)
- Cruciferous refers to how all the plants in this family have four flowers in the shape of a cross
- Types: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, kale, collard greens, kohlrabi, turnip, rutabaga, watercress, radishes
Benefits of Brussels (and other cruciferous veggies)
- Lowers cancer risk via phytochemicals (phyto= plant therefore phytochemical= “plant chemicals”, usually referring to those active in the human body and of which there are dozens identified)
- Glucosinolates: Sulforaphane, indole-3 carbinol, and crambene may stimulate the body’s own enzymes responsible for beneficially changing carcinogenic substances before they can harm our cells (in other words, these chemicals help our “detoxification” pathways) and slowing down pathways that promote cancer cell formation and may turn on tumor suppressor genes.
- The compounds in the vegetable are likely synergistic (work better together), so don’t wait for the supplement. Eat the darn food.
- “In a study funded by the National Cancer Institute, men who ate three or more half-cup servings of cruciferous vegetables per week had a 41 percent decreased risk for prostate cancer, compared to men who ate fewer than one serving per week. A University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute study found that cruciferous vegetables appear to not only stop human prostate cancer cells from growing in mice but also may cut off the formation of blood vessels that “feed” tumors”.
- High in vitamin A and vitamin C (anti oxidants that supply a needed electron to stabilize oxygen free radicals)Lowers oxygen free-radicals (Free-radicals are made in the natural course of the day of the body but certainly production is exacerbated by our environmental and nutritional exposures. An oxygen free radical is missing an electron. It does not like to be a free radical and seeks to do whatever it takes to react with anything close to capture an electron to stabilize its outer shell. Anti-oxidants happily supply those missing electrons, thereby limiting disruption of our cells and cell processes. Clear as mud? Completely wrong? Let me know.)
- Contains folate
- Low folate in men can lead to low sperm count and damaged DNA carried by the sperm (click here for a report)
- Reduces neural tube defects fetal development (spina bifida, etc)
- High in vitamin B-2 (riboflavin): Myriad functions, although readily available in most meats, eggs, many vegetables
- High in vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine): Needed for hemoglobin and involved in synthesis of neurotransmitters and myelin. So tell your kids Brussels help their blood carry oxygen and keeps their brains thinking well and the nerves in their hands and feet from tingling.
- Benefits too numerous to tell here.
One mans drug is another man’s poison: Why not eat Brussels (and other cruciferous vegetables)?
- Thyroid dysfunction: These same beneficial glucosinolates in them can interfere with thyroid hormone production and iodine uptake. Supposedly if you have enough iodine in your diet, the effect is negated. Or if you cook them, rather than eating them raw. For most of us, this is not an issue. If you are on a “thyroid healing diet”, this is an issue.
- People who are watching oxalate intake.
Raw, lightly cooking, overcooking
- They can be eaten raw. Quarter them up and eat them. Or quarter them and break apart the leaves, drizzle with the olive oil and spices mentioned above, and have a salad.
- Cooking them helps release some of the bitter tasting chemical and thyroid disrupting compounds, so if you are a Supertaster or hypothyroid person, you may much prefer to have them cooked. However, it’s the bitter tasting compound that is “beneficial”, although there are numerous other benefits besides these. But what good is any of it if you won’t eat it? The best deal, cook as little as possible to make them delicious for you to eat. Even if cooking reduces benefits, it does not eliminate benefits.
- Overcooking–sulfur released, and they don’t smell or taste too good.