After being maligned for years as one of America's most-hated vegetables, Brussels sprouts have finally crossed over to the "cool" category, joining the likes of kale, quinoa, and coconut oil. These nutrient-packed orbs are popping up right and left on high-end restaurant menus, roasted to crispy perfection and glazed with everything from balsamic vinegar to honey.
In terms of health benefits, Brussels sprouts top the charts for cholesterol-busting soluble fiber, with 2 grams per 1/2-cup serving. Some nutrition experts believe that the fiber benefits of Brussels sprouts are best utilized by the body when the sprouts are steamed. In traditional Chinese medicine, Brussels sprouts are used to improve digestive health. Brussels sprouts are part of the cruciferous vegetable family (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower) and boast certain compounds that have been shown to reduce cancer risk. These healing compounds contain sulfur, responsible for giving the sprouts their strong odor when boiled or steamed.
Now it's time to give Brussels sprouts a starring role at your holiday dinner table. Here's a savory version made with colorful cranberries and crunchy walnuts for a taste combination that is likely to please even self-professed "veggie haters."
What's in a Name?
Where did Brussels sprouts get their name? There's no mystery to the moniker-people in Belgium have had a love affair with Brussels sprouts that dates back to the 16th century, hence the vegetable's name. Cultivated from wild cabbages, Brussels sprouts are thought to have originated in Rome before gaining popularity in Belgium.
For the best taste, buy Brussels sprouts in season-fall through late winter. And next time you're shopping, consider trying a long stalk of Brussels sprouts. The stalks tend to be cheaper because the sprouts don't have to be picked off one by one. Another plus for the stalk version: the vegetable stays fresher longer compared to loose or bagged Brussels sprouts.