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Bitter, but better for you; and a perfect side dish for holiday meals.

Photo: Bigstock

Photo: Bigstock

Brussels sprouts come from a family of vegetables called crucifers. They are called the flowering part of the plant grows in the same of a cross. Like other cruciferous vegetables, Brussels sprouts contain high amounts of glucosinolates, plant nutrients known to fight cancer. Brussels sprouts have a special combination of four specific glucosinolates that set Brussels spouts apart from other crucifers in their cancer fighting capacity. These glucosinolates also make Brussels sprouts bitter. Research shows that Brussels sprouts kill more human cancer cells than all other cruciferous vegetables (whfoods.com). They also contain high levels of vitamins C, A and K, as well as folic acid and dietary fiber.

Brussels Sprouts are best when freshly harvested, and should be cooked within a day or 2 of bringing them home.When shopping look for bright green sprouts with tightly wrapped leaves. If they look wilted or have a cabbage scent they have been around a long while after harvest and have lost most of their sugars and nutrients  (Robinson, 2013).

Steaming Brussels sprouts releases their nutrient power. It is only when they are old and overcooked that they off a strong sulfur smell. This smell and their bitterness may be why many Americans often leave them out of their daily vegetable choices.

I like to steam sauté Brussels sprouts in 1/3 cup of water and a tablespoon of butter. I add a little caraway seed and then serve them with a Dijon and maple syrup sauce. Delicious!

References:

  • Robbins, J. (2013). Eating on the wild side. Little Brown  & Co: New York.
  • The World’s healthiest Foods http:// http://www.whfoods.com/

 

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The most colorful apples are the ones that have been exposed to the greatest amount of sunlight and therefore contain more phytochemicals that benefit your health (Robinson, 2013). In her recent book Eating on the Wild Side Jo Robbins talks about how apple trees are trimmed so that more of the fruit is exposed to sunlight making the apples rich in color. The more color they have, the more phytonutrient value (see http://heartynutrition.net/2013/10/07/apples-a-rich-source-of-antioxidants/).

Photo by Rick Ruggles

Photo by Rick Ruggles
http://www.foundhearts.com

Choose organic or locally grown apples. The Environmental Working Group lists apples as having some of the highest levels of pesticides on them when compared to other fruits and vegetables. Organic apples are pesticide free. Many times locally grown apples are also organic, but farmers in smaller orchards and farms often cannot afford to go through the organic certification process, so they don’t have the organic label. The best thing to do is to ask the farmer how he or she harvests the apples when you see them at the farmers’ market. Also, locally grown apples are fresher and are grown in smaller orchards that use smaller amounts of harmful pesticides.

Choosing organic also helps to protect the natural habitat in which apples grow. Apples need bees and other insects for pollination – excess pesticide use can negatively effect crops, habitat and bee populations.

See the following sources for more information:

The Environmental Working Group 

The Organic Center 

Robinson, Jo (2013-06-04). Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health (p. 229). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.

Wood, R. (2010). The new whole foods encyclopedia. Penguin Group: New York., NY.

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