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November, 2009

Brussels Sprouts

By Cheryl Forberg

With Thanksgiving upon us, many fall vegetables come to mind.

Celery Root
The knobby nutty celery root or celeriac is delicious roasted or pureed. Not only is the flavor nutty and sweet, but the health benefits are appealing too. It’s loaded with nutrients and vitamins including B6, C, K as well as magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. Pumpkins and winter squashes are plentiful now and versatile since they can be used desserts as well as soup, stews or vegetable dishes. Their golden colors tell us that they’re loaded with antioxidants and beta-carotene. This combo is believed to reduce the risk of several cancers, and provide protection against heart disease and memory loss.

Other health benefits are related to beta-carotene's conversion to vitamin A, and their collective impact on promoting keen vision. Though preformed vitamin A is available from sources such as meat, liver, and eggs, there are many reasons to limit our intake of animal products related to their high levels of saturated fats and cholesterol. In addition, excess intake of vitamin A from supplements can be harmful. Another way to get your vitamin A is from its precursors, which are found in plant foods. The orange pigments called carotenoids in a carrot, for example, are precursors, which convert to vitamin A in the body. Creamy pumpkin, crunchy red bell pepper, and the succulent sweet potato offer a diverse selection and plenty of creative rein to meet your antioxidant quota.
Brussels Sprouts
The Brussels sprout is my personal fall favorite. A member of the cabbage family, these delectable sprouts grow like buds in a spiral array on the side of long thick stalks of approximately (2–3 ft). Brussels sprout family also includes broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, kale, and kohlrabi. They are called cruciferous vegetables and contain loads of vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, fiber as well as plant chemicals (also called phytochemicals). One of the plant chemicals that Brussels sprouts contain, sinigrin, is thought to help protect against colon cancer. Most of the US production of Brussels sprouts is for the frozen food market. Maybe that’s part of the reason that fresh Brussels sprouts are so incomparably delicious. Usually served cooked, I love to trim the nubby sprouts, and slice them thinly to eat raw in a salad. Here is one of my favorites.

Brussels Sprout Salad
Brussels Sprout Salad

This recipe was inspired by a salad I had at Bottega, Chef Michael Chiarello’s restaurant in Yountville, California. If Brussels sprouts are out of season, you can substitute shredded romaine lettuce or cabbage instead. If you’re not watching your calories, feel free to include the egg yolk and more dressing if desired.

Ingredients:
1/2 pound (454 grams) about 10 raw Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and halved vertically, and thinly sliced, vertically (yield about 4 cups)
4 carrots, finely grated
1 hardboiled egg white, finely chopped
2 tablespoons toasted slivered almonds, chopped
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons Melissa’s Caesar dressing

Instructions:
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Toss gently and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.