Brussels Sprouts.

Anyone have any idea what these alien looking veggies are? Well, if you were paying attention -- the headline kind of gives it away, but if you weren't, these are brussels sprouts. When I started getting everything ready for this week's blog topic, I stumbled across these pictures of sprouts still on the stalk! I guess it's a pretty common sight at farmer's markets, Trader Joe's and other countries. As someone who has eaten them all their life, I feel like I've been sheltered from their awesomeness. Can't wait to get my hands on an actual fresh stalk, but for now, loose ones will have to do.

Growing up, my mom always made brussels sprouts and I really liked them. It never occurred to me that other kids my age either didn't get them regularly or plain hated them until I was much older. I can remember several occasions when I'd have friends over for dinner and they'd turn their noses up at the mention of brussels sprouts. Up until just recently, I haven't made any -- in fact, the only reason I've bought any lately was to throw them in my Breville and add them to my juices for a 'green' item. That is, until last night :) I'll tell you about my fun recipe tomorrow when I share some cooking inspiration, but today, I want to focus on all the benefits for these little guys.

  • They are an excellent source of Vitamin C (50 milligrams per 1/2 cup, which is about 80% of your daily recommended intake) -- studies in Europe have shown that people with high blood levels of Vitamin C are less at risk for heart disease.  
  • The Vitamin A/C, lutein and zeaxanthin help fight off cataracts and other eye diseases.
  • They are also a HUGE source of Vitamin K (which builds bone) with up to 6x the daily amount!
  • Brussels sprouts have a strong level of antioxidants that help get rid of free radicals in our systems which lead to cancer and other debilitating diseases.
  • They have a low GL which makes them great for those with diabetes -- this paired with it's high levels of soluble fiber, help to give your blood sugar a slow rise.
  • Brussels sprouts help aid in digestion since they have alot of fiber in them. Because of this though, they tend to cause gas and bloating if you're bodies system is already backed up and unhealthy. The high amounts of fiber though will help you stay fuller longer and aid in weight loss.
  • They're a low carb food and 1/3 of the calories come from protein.
  • They are rich in potassium which helps to reduce your blood pressure levels. 
  • High levels of Omega-3's -- if you eat 1.5 cups (100 calories worth), you're looking at roughly 1/3 of your recommended intake for the day. 
Additional Sources: WHFoods -- BeWellBuzz -- Nutrition & You

So now we know why they're good for us, but what's the best way to buy them and store them? You can't possibly get them any fresher then buying them still on the stalk. If you're like me and haven't been able to find them like this, you're next best bet is to find them on ice. Those that are sold at room temperature tend to go bad quickly. Signs of bad brussels sprouts include: strong odor, yellow or wilted leaves, and if they're puffy/soft to the touch. It's best to buy them in an unpackaged form so you can really see what you're getting. If you plan on cutting them in half to cook or roast, try buying them all in similar sizes so they cook at the same rate. If you must buy them in packages, make sure you open the package when you get home and weed out any bad ones -- repackage them in a perforated plastic bag or veggie bag if you have one on hand. They'll store for 3 to 5 days like this. Don't bother washing or trimming them until you're ready to use them, otherwise they'll go bad quicker. And obviously, store them in the fridge and not at room temperature.

Stick around for some recipes tomorrow and feel free to share some of your own!

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