This is the last in the series on Medicine Woman’s Larder and repeat from 2014. It is not that I have run out of foods that contribute to our health but because I hope I have given you enough of a taste to inspire you to explore food in a new way yourselves.
Variety is the spice of life….and our bodies need a wide variety of foods to extract all the nutrients it needs to be healthy.
We are just coming into the Brussel sprout season and I shall be taking full advantage. I eat cabbage all year round, but Brussels are so much easier to prepare and are a powerhouse of benefits all on their own.
The Brussel sprout is a miniature cabbage and is usually in season from the early autumn to early spring, but today you can find them all year round in most supermarkets. They are, like most fruit and vegetables, at their best in the actual growing season. We eat seasonally an apart from anything else it does encourage you to widen the spectrum of types of fruit and vegetables that you eat and therefore gives you access to a much broader selection of nutrients.
One of the things that I encourage my clients to do before coming for their first consultation is to complete a very extensive questionnaire and also two week food diary. A food diary is not about calories and fats consumed but does identify either food groups that are being excluded and also any important nutrients.
It is easy to slip into a routine with food. You are busy; a family to feed and it is more convenient to eat the same meals in rotation. Monday pasta dish, Tuesday shepherd’s pie, Friday fish and chips, Sunday roast chicken, potatoes, carrots, peas etc. It is not so much what you are eating but what you are not eating by adopting this regular pattern.
Brussels are related to both the cabbage and the broccoli families but have some very distinctive properties that make them an essential ingredient of any healthy eating plan.
Onto the main business of the day!
THE BRUSSEL SPROUT.
The Brussel sprout is related to both the cabbage and the broccoli families but have some very distinctive properties that make them an essential ingredient of any healthy eating plan.
Our immune system is very efficient but life takes its toll. It is important that in our diet we include foods that enhance and boost our immune system and the Brussel sprout does just that.
Brussel sprouts contain a phytochemical, which helps our own defence system to protect against disease in general but in particular cancer. Sulforaphane is a phytonutrient found in this group of plant families and helps boost the body’s detoxification enzymes, which help clear carcinogenic substances from the body quickly and efficiently. Brussel sprouts have also been shown to decrease the level of DNA damage in cells, which prevents mutations in the cells, which allows cancer to develop.
To get the benefit of this phytochemical the food needs to be chopped or chewed so that the liver is stimulated into producing the specific detoxification enzymes and research has shown that breast cancer cells particularly are prevented from reproducing even in later stages of the disease.
Apart from cancer the Brussel sprout and other members of the Brassica family such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli contain large amounts of vitamin C. This supports our immune function and has been shown to help prevent heart disease, strokes and cancer but also promotes the manufacture of collagen, a protein that forms the body structure including the skin, connective tissues and cartilage.
A serving of Brussel sprouts also contains very healthy quantities of Vitamin A and beta-carotene, both vital in defending the body and promoting healthy and young looking skin.
Folic acid has long been recognised for its ability to help protect the foetus against birth defects. Folic acid is a B vitamin that promotes healthy cell division. Without it nervous system cells do not divide properly which has linked to a number of birth defects such as Spina bifida. The main source of folic acid is green leafy vegetables such as the Brussel sprout and spinach but as our reliance on processed foods rather than fresh fruit and vegetables grows, the deficiency of this vitamin is becoming the most common in the western world.
Apart from being rich in fibre, which helps protect us against colon disease this vegetable because of its high content of antioxidants, particularly vitamin C, is a great preventative for degenerative diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, the subject of our disease report this month.
HOW TO PREPARE
Wash, trim and remove the outer leaves of the sprouts. To preserve all the nutrients use a steamer to cook the sprouts until tender. Season and drizzle with a little olive oil and add an extra nutritional boost by adding some chopped almonds or walnuts before you serve.
RECIPE – BRUSSEL SPROUTS WITH PEANUTS AND HERB BUTTER – (Gourmet Cooking without Meat – Paul Southey 1980)
This is the first cook book that I bought the year we got married. I had cooked for a living for five years and had quite a few cookery books already. However, we were pretty broke when we married and so the budget stretched to meat or chicken a couple of times a week and the rest of time I got creative with the vegetables……
350g (12oz) Brussel Sprouts
50g (2oz) finely chopped onion
50g (2oz) unsalted peanuts (or toasted almonds as an alternative)
12 large leaves of chopped Marjoram
25g (1oz) butter
2 Tablespoons lemon Juice.
- Cook the sprouts in a very little boiling, salted water for around 10 minutes- try to catch them before they lose their vibrant green colour. They will finish cooking in your onion and lemon juice.
- Put the chopped onion into another pan of boiling water for about one minute then drain.
- Put the peanuts into the blender or grinder or chop finely with a sharp knife. They should be crumbly.
- Work the marjoram into the butter and divide into four pats.
- Drain the sprouts and add the onion and the lemon juice.
- Replace on the heat and stir gently whilst sprinkling the peanut crumb over them.
- Place in a heated dish and add the pats of herbed butter.
I hope you have enjoyed this series and the good news is that it will be combined with the Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest covering herbal remedies as a book of food and herbs as yet officially untitled.