The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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June 10, 2014

Dietitian: Versatile, flavorful Brussels sprouts far from boring

Q: I’ve been hearing a lot about Brussels sprouts and how great they taste and how they are such a healthy choice. I haven’t had a Brussels sprout since I was a kid and it was horrible. Are they really that good for me? If so, what’s the best way to cook them?

A: You are not alone in your dislike for these green gems. According to a 2008 research study by Heinz, Brussels sprouts are the most-hated vegetable in America. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Not only are Brussels sprouts one of the most powerful foods in fighting disease and providing nutrients, but they are one of the tastiest vegetables available (in my humble opinion).

Brussels sprouts are making a comeback as one of the top food trends for 2014 — and for good reason. They are packed with nearly all your daily needs for vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting and bone health. They are a member of the cruciferous vegetable family and contain cancer-protecting compounds and glucosinolates, which stimulate the body’s natural detoxification system. As a matter of fact, their total glucosinolate content has been shown to be greater than the amount found in mustard greens, turnip greens, cabbage, kale, cauliflower and broccoli. Brussels are also an excellent source of vitamin C, which helps maintain a healthy immune system, and they contain lutein and zeaxathin, two nutrients important for healthy vision.

Chefs and culinary experts will agree that Brussels sprouts are a fun vegetable to experiment with in the kitchen because they are extremely versatile. Try them oven-roasted, steamed, sautéed, candied, boiled, grilled or raw. Even the frozen varieties are delicious!

If you’re looking to try Brussels sprouts and want a quick preparation method, I suggest roasting or sautéing. All vegetables have a small amount of naturally occurring sugar; cooking at high temperature caramelizes those sugars and causes chemical reactions that reduce bitter flavors.

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