Cruciferous & Color: 10 Vegetable Superfoods

When considering which vegetables to eat, I have adopted the phrase “Cruciferous and colorful.” Cruciferous is another name for the vegetables belonging to the cabbage or mustard family. They are especially high in Vitamins K a natural anti-inflammatory, Vitamin A that eliminates free-radicals, more popular Vitamins B6 & C, folate which keeps the heart healthy, fiber and disease (especially Cancer) fighting phytochemicals. Kale, broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts are just a few examples of these super-vegetables.

Kale is super for it’s high percentages of Vitamins K, A, & C, as well as manganese and fiber.  Manganese helps keeps the body’s systems balanced and bones strong and healthy.

Kale Salad Recipe:

Trim raw Kale, massage in olive oil, mix in sliced cucumbers and halved cherry tomatoes

Broccoli is higher in Vitamins A and C than Kale and has very good levels of Vitamin B6 and potassium.

Brussel Sprouts have more glucosinolates than the other cruciferous vegetables. These enhance their disease fighting ability, through a complicated chemical detoxification. They also contain Omega-3s.

 Brussel Sprouts Recipe:

1- 1.5 lb Brussel Sprouts (Trimmed, Quartered)

6* slices of Bacon

1 Medium Shallot, finely chopped

1 Tablespoon lemon juice, squeezed

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup Golden Raisins

Begin with the bacon (must use self-control when you have ready-to-eat bacon nearby while you cook the rest of the meal; I fried an extra piece* or two because I knew I would fall short). Set the crispy bacon aside and throw the finely chopped shallots into the bacon-greased skillet. With the stove on a low – medium heat, carefully place the quartered brussel sprouts onto the skillet to let one of the flat open faces brown. While they cook, break your bacon up (eat one of the extra pieces*) into small pieces. With one side browned, turn your sprouts over onto the other flat surface and let them simmer for just a minute. Remove these sprouts and place them in a separate bowl. If you have more sprouts to cook: Use the rest of your shallots; place the rest of the sprouts. In a separate pot, brown the butter. Add the browned butter to the lemon juice and mix with a pinch of salt. Once second batch is finished, place all brussel sprouts in the pot used to brown the butter. Add raisins, bacon, salt & pepper, and the lemon/butter vinaigrette. Simmering for a minute or two will allow the new ingredients to cook into the mix.

Cauliflower rounds out my cruciferous choices and adds Vitamin B5 to the rest of the ever-present nutrients its super-family. Lately, I have become increasingly excited about this vegetable, especially in the mashed varietal.

Color, the second part of my motto, comes from two sources. Registered Dietician and Nutritionist at Life Time Fitness, Melanie Reyes says, “[When eating healthy] think about the rainbow… the more colors present in the vegetables you are eating, the more variety in nutrients.” The second source of the drive for color in my diet comes from ‘mothers everywhere’ – “A colorful plate is a healthy plate.” As we age and grow wiser we are learn that our mothers were right when they told us to eat our veggies. Additionally, if you are to cook them, I recommend only lightly steaming them to retain their nutrients.

Beets, a colorful cancer fighter, also an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

Spinach, a leafy-green that needs no introduction, is chalk full of essentially every essential.

Bell Peppers, red or yellow or orange – enhance your palate while coloring your plate. These feature 30 different carotenoids, heart healthy nutrients like lycopene and folic acid.

Sweet Potatoes, Vitamins A, C & B6 just like the cruciferous bunch, but also include beta-carotene and can be prepared in a number of ways.

Grilled Sweet Potatoes:

Wash then boil till easily pierced with a fork – Allow to cool – Slice long ways

Mix ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon chili powder, ½ teaspoon paprika (or blend incl. paprika), 1-teaspoon salt,

Add ¼ cup olive oil to dry ingredients – mix again

Brush on & Grill (till quality indentations on each side)

Squash, though I particularly prefer the summer Squash, other nutrient-packed varieties can be found throughout the year.

Eggplant receives its deep purple color from its nasunin, which protects it from the environmental damage. Similarly this antioxident and phytonutrient provides protection for our brain and nervous system.

When planning your next meal, think cruciferous and color – it will make your body stronger, healthier and happier. It may make mom happy too.

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