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August, 2008

Crispy, Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts Tossed in Hazelnut Oil

By Heidi Allison

Not only does boiling Brussels sprouts rob them of any taste, it also destroys their ability to fight cancer!

Brussels Sprouts
Not only does boiling Brussels sprouts rob them of any taste, it also destroys their ability to fight cancer! At the University of Warwick in England, researchers have just discovered that boiling cruciferous vegetables – Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower – depletes 77 percent of its glucosinolates. These powerful phytochemicals reduce the risk of cancer by signaling our genes to increase levels of the body’s natural detoxification enzymes, which alter gene expression and help clear carcinogenic substances from the body more rapidly.

Healthier cooking options include: roasting, steaming, stir-frying and microwaving. Apparently, these methods had no effect on the cancer-fighting compounds. Other researchers found that shredding Brussels sprouts helps release a sulfur-containing compound called sinigrin, which also detoxifies a variety of carcinogens and enhances the body’s ability to fight lung, colon, breast, ovarian and bladder cancers. It performs this daunting task by initiating an intricate chemical dance that inhibits cell division (mitosis) and stimulates programmed cell death (apoptosis) in human tumor cells.

Crispy, Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts Tossed with Hazelnut Oil
This “oh-so-easy” recipe not only enhances the sprouts’ ability to heal, it also delivers on taste – big time. The main drawback to eating this nutritional powerhouse is a slightly bitter taste and a sulfur-like smell caused by the chemical sulforaphane. During recipe testing, I noticed that when I shredded and roasted these veggies at a high temperature (425° F), it transformed their taste and made them sweeter, with a nice, crispy texture. Moreover, this culinary technique eliminated any odor. When buying Brussels sprouts, look for firm, compact and vivid green heads. Bypass any with yellowed or wilted leaves, which indicates that they are old. And, avoid any sprouts with perforations in the leaves – a good indication that they have aphids. Brussels sprouts can be safely stored in a plastic bag in the crisper of your refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Crispy, Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts Tossed with Hazelnut Oil
Serves: 4

11 ounces of Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of roasted hazelnut oil
½ teaspoon plus a large pinch of Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place sprouts in a colander and rinse under cold water, then drain. Remove any damaged outer leaves. Slice Brussels sprouts vertically into quarters (1/8-inch slice) and place in a large bowl. Pour olive oil over Brussels sprouts and toss gently with your hands until evenly coated. Pour hazelnut oil over sprouts and sprinkle with Kosher salt and black pepper. Toss again until well coated.

Layer Brussels sprouts in a single layer in a small jelly roll or roasting pan, until lightly browned and crispy (about 15 minutes). Shake the pan several times during cooking to ensure even browning. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Notes from the Author:
Shredded cruciferous veggies lose up to 75 percent of their cancer-fighting potency within 6 hours of cooking. This is one case where tossing out leftovers makes sense.