Small and Mighty Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are big news these days.  You may even find them as a seasonal pizza topping! Even though they are easy to prepare, Brussels sprouts have developed a reputation in the United States as a strong-smelling and yucky-tasting vegetable. Don’t let their reputation keep you from discovering (or re-discovering) this delicious vegetable, and all the health benefits Brussels sprouts have to offer.

Historical record indicates that Brussels sprouts were first cultivated in Europe. As their name suggests, these plants were grown in large quantity in Brussels, Belgium. Today you can find Brussels sprouts worldwide.  

A cool weather crop, Brussels sprouts grow on a tall stalk and resemble small cabbages. Related to broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale, Brussels sprouts are loaded with vitamin A and C and contain cancer-fighting compounds. In fact, it is the cancer-fighting components that give Brussels sprouts that unmistakable strong odor if they are overcooked.

At the market, look for fresh Brussels sprouts that are green in color and firm to the touch. You can also find Brussels sprouts in the frozen food section—just look for plain sprouts (without any added sauces).

To prepare fresh Brussels sprouts, pull off any yellowed leaves and discard. Trim the stalk, give them a rinse, and they are ready for cooking. If using frozen Brussels sprouts, thaw them before cooking or follow the serving suggestion on the package.

Do not boil them! Overcooking is what creates the strong flavor and odor in Brussels sprouts.

A few basic ways to prepare Brussels sprouts include steaming for 3-5 minutes, or cutting into quarters and stir frying in olive oil with garlic and your favorite seasonings for 3-5 minutes. Roasting is another great way to cook Brussels sprouts. Try our recipe for roasted Brussels sprouts for dinner tonight!

Roasted, stir-fried, steamed—whatever your preference--be sure and give Brussels sprouts a place on your plate at dinner tonight.

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© Eat Smart, Be Fit Maryland!Maira Gall