It is that time of year when we bring out the decorations and over here – The Cook from Scratch Christmas recipes... I look at the health benefits of the food.. and my friend Carol Taylor turns them into something delicious the whole family will love.
Brussel sprouts are not necessarily the most asked for vegetable by children as they do have a slightly bitter taste (actually the healthy element of the Brussels), but if you prepare them following Carol’s guidance, they should be a hit with all the family.
At this time of year they are readily available in the stores and are a wonderful side dish for Turkey on Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.
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 most of our fruit and vegetables seasonally, and apart from anything else it does encourage you to widen the spectrum of types of foods that you eat and therefore gives you access to a much broader selection of nutrients.
One of the things that I encouraged my clients to do before coming for their first consultation, was to complete a very extensive questionnaire with 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!
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 it 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.
I have posted in the past about Chicken Pox and Shingles and the importance of the amino acid L-Lysine to assist in recovery from an attack of the latter. Brussel Sprouts are one of the leafy green vegetables which contain this amino acid and another good reason to include in our diets.
I am now going to hand you over to the ever resourceful Carol Taylor to share some delicious ways to prepare and eat this very versatile vegetable.
Brussels sprouts or little cabbages fall in two camps love them or hate them a bit like Marmite. I wonder how many parents have cajoled, bribed or just said eat it or you get it for breakfast??
How many people who hated them as a child now love them?
As Sally has rightly stated in her part of the post they are packed with good things…Like a phytochemical, which helps our own defence system to protect against disease in general but in particular cancer. Vitamins A and C and so much more.
Eaten as part of a varied diet and now they are not boiled to death like my Nan used to do with anything green they are roasted, Sautéed, fried, shaved as well as steamed or boiled in lightly salted water.
In my quest for some different recipes I did come across Brussel sprout ice cream…I love the little sprout but for me that is a step too far…Some veggies don’t lend themselves to ice cream or smoothies.
I love just plain little brussels lightly steamed or boiled with my Christmas dinner…the little small ones which have had had a frost on them are so sweet and lovely.
Sautéed with bacon they are to die for…
My spicy pan fried Brussels come very close or top depending on whether you are a bacon or a chilli fan…
This recipe serves 4 people.
- 1lb of Brussel sprouts trimmed and halved
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
- 1-2 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp of cumin seeds
- 2 tsp of balsamic vinegar
- 6 shallots peeled and quartered
- Chilli flakes and chopped fresh chives to garnish.
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the garlic and shallots and stir fry for 3-4 minutes until the shallots just start to turn golden.
- Sprinkle in the cumin seeds and add the sprouts. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes over a medium heat then reduce the heat and cover the pan, cook for a further 4-5 minutes or until the sprouts are almost tender.
- Sprinkle over the balsamic vinegar and let it cook just for a few seconds. Season the sprouts to taste with salt and cracked black pepper.
- Garnish with chilli flakes and chopped chives.
A beautiful side dish with your Sunday roast or Christmas dinner.
This next dish is a recipe I have had for a long time…
These little cakes are very tasty and lovely with some steamed vegetables or a salad. This mix makes 6 rice cakes. If you haven’t made a risotto before please don’t let it put you off.
As long as your liquid is hot and you let each addition of stock become absorbed into the rice before adding more stock it is a doddle. So much easier than most people think it is. Who hasn’t seen the disasters on the TV cooking shows?
Risotto Cakes with Brussel Sprouts.
These lovely risotto cakes also are vegetarian and the first time I made them was at Christmas for a veggie friend and they loved them.
I also think meat free dishes have come a very long way…Don’t you? There is so much more on restaurant menus and I also think home cooks are more adventurous with flavours.
These risotto cakes certainly fit the bill even if you are a die hard meat eater.
- 8oz risotto rice
- 8oz brussel sprouts finely shredded
- 6 shallots finely chopped
- 4 oz unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
- 2 oz cooked, shelled chestnuts, chopped finely
- 1 3/4-2pints of hot vegetable stock
- 3 tbsp flour
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 8 oz fresh breadcrumbs.
15-20 Sage leaves for garnish, a little flour for dusting and a pinch of paprika.
Oil of your choice for deep frying.
Line 6 x 4 inch cooking rings with cling film.
- Cook the shredded Brussel sprouts in lightly salted water for 1 minute. Drain set to one side.
- Melt the butter in a pan and cook the shallots for 2 mins until soft but not coloured. Add the rice and stir until the rice is evenly coated with the melted butter.
- Stir in 1-2 ladles of the hot vegetable stock at a time and stirring until the rice has absorbed the stock before adding your next ladles of stock. Do this until the rice is just tender but with a little bite. This will take about 25 minutes as does any risotto.
- Add the cheese and season being careful of the salt as both the cheese and the stock contain salt. Gently stir in the chestnuts and the sprouts. If the mixture seems too thick then you may want to add a little more stock.
- Divide your mixture between the cooking rings. Leave to cool and then chill until set and firm.
- When the rice cakes are nicely chilled remove the rings and the clingfilm.
- Double dip the lightly floured rice cakes in egg and then breadcrumbs…repeat. You may need to reshape the cakes.
- Heat the oil until a small crouton of bread turns golden within a minute and dust the sage leaves with the flour and paprika and fry for 1-2 minutes…set aside on kitchen paper.
- Deep fry the cakes for 5-7 minutes until they are golden and crisp. It is probably best to do these 2 at a time while keeping the cooked ones warm in the oven.
- To serve, add some deep fried sage leaves to the top of the cake and serve with steamed vegetables or salad.
Brussels also lend themselves very nicely to salads I think we are all getting so much more adventurous with food…Don’t you??
Brussel Sprout Salad with Cranberries:
This salad has all of my favourite things in one beautiful bowl.
- 1.5 lbs brussel sprouts washed, with the tough outer leaves pulled away
- 2/3 cup fresh or dried cranberries…I prefer fresh just for that little zing…No cranberries try blueberries.
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
- 1 large apple chopped
- 3 or 4 slices bacon cooked and chopped
- 2 green onion sprigs thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup feta cheese crumbled
Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp maple syrup not pancake syrup as it will not taste the same you can’t beat proper maple syrup.
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
- Hold the core end of a brussel sprout and, starting at the top, slice it into very thin slices.
- Discard the core and chop remaining brussel sprouts until they are all are thinly sliced.
- Place chopped brussel sprouts, cranberries, pecans, apples, bacon, onion and feta in a large bowl.
For the dressing
Put all of the dressing ingredients in a lidded container. Place a lid on the container and shake well. Pour desired amount over the salad, a little at a time, until the salad is coated. Store any leftover dressing in the fridge where it will keep for a few days. It can also be made in advance.
I don’t like to dress my salads but put dressing on the table as I think everyone’s taste varies.
This Brussel Sprout au gratin recipe is quick to do and very nice as a side dish.
Preheat your oven 400F and grease a 2 quart oven dish.
- 1lb of Brussel sprouts
- 8oz of bacon..streaky
- Half cup of heavy cream or half and half
- Half cup of mature cheddar grated
- Half cup of fresh breadcrumbs
- Red pepper flakes
- Salt and cracked black pepper to season.
- Bring a pan of water to the boil and add brussel sprouts, cook for 6-8 minutes, drain and coarsely chop.
- While the sprouts are cooking put the bacon in a cold pan(no fat), heat and cook for a few minutes, take out and drain on kitchen paper. The bacon will carry on cooking and you will have nice crispy bacon.
- I learnt this on master chef and it works..bacon needs no fat as it makes it own and if you cook it until it is crispy in the pan as it carries on cooking you will then have very dry crispy bacon…I know because I always did that to mine until I saw it on master chef and it works a treat.
- Put the sprouts and half the bacon into your prepared dish and sprinkle with red pepper flakes..Spread the mixture over the dish and pour your cream over the top. Sprinkle the top with your breadcrumbs, cheese and the remainder of the bacon.
Bake for 15 minutes until it is bubbly and golden.
I hope you have enjoyed our collaboration and even if you don’t like sprouts I hope these recipes tempt you to try them.
I think they really are an underrated little vegetable which maybe as a child we didn’t like and have never tried since…You may be pleasantly surprised.
Until next time stay safe, have fun and laugh a lot ..Because it is proven to be the best medicine and it is FREE!
My thanks to Carol for elevating this small vegetable to its rightful place on all our plates..
About Carol Taylor
Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.
I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.
Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.
Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!
Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology: https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS
You can find out more about Carol and catch up with her Food and Cookery Column HERE
Connect to Carol via her blog and enjoy posts on healthy eating, conservation, waste management, travel and amazing recipes: https://carolcooks2.com/