Why I love Cruciferous Vegetables and their Many Health Benefits
Cruciferous vegetables are a polarizing group. You either love ‘em, or you hate ‘em. Most people think of broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts when they hear the word cruciferous, but did you know that arugula, bok choy, and kale are also in this group.
I love cruciferous vegetables for their strong delicious flavors, but I’m equally impressed with their health benefits. They are loaded with nutrients and phytochemicals our bodies need to run smoothly, like vitamin C, folate, fiber, and cancer-busting glucosinolates. Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy this unique group of vegetables.
Arugula- This leafy green veggie has become very popular over the last few years. It has a peppery bite, and makes a great lettuce substitute in sandwiches and salads. Try tossing it with cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, and crumbled feta cheese, and drizzling with a simple balsamic vinaigrette. It’s also delicious with fresh lemon juice and shaved parmesan. Two cups of arugula contains just 10 calories and over 50% of your daily vitamin K needs (important for proper blood clotting), so load up your plate with this amazing vegetable!
Cabbage- Cabbage comes in many colors and varieties, so try branching out and purchasing a new variety next time you’re at the grocery store. Traditional green and red cabbages are often used in coleslaw- excellent as a side dish or heaped onto a grilled turkey burger. Napa cabbage is the star in Chinese chicken salad, while savoy cabbage makes excellent braised cabbage rolls. Cabbage is rich is antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and cancer-fighting phytochemicals, so eat up! When making coleslaw substitute a portion of the mayo for 2% Greek yogurt – then add your slaws to fish tacos, sandwiches, salads and even baked potatoes!
Collard Greens- Collard greens are a southern staple, but they don’t have to be stewed for hours to be delicious. Try simply blanching chopped collard greens for a few minutes, draining, and then tossing with garlic-infused olive oil and flaky sea salt. It’s a delicious side that’s ready in just a few minutes. Cooked collard greens have the ability to lower your cholesterol by binding to bile acid in the gut. This bound bile acid is excreted in the feces, and your body’s cholesterol stores are used to create new bile to replenish the supply, thus naturally lowering cholesterol levels!
Kale- Kale is America’s sweetheart right now. Raw kale salads are especially trendy, and rightfully so! They are delicious! Try tossing raw lacinato (dinosaur kale) with shredded chicken, parmesan cheese, homemade croutons, and a Caesar dressing to kick your typical salad up a notch. Curly kale holds up extremely well to salad dressings. Take advantage of this fact by prepping your salad the night before. Simply massage some curly kale with olive oil and lemon juice, and add your favorite salad toppings. My favorite combination is shredded carrot, garbanzo beans, sunflower seeds, and feta cheese. Check out this easy green lunch made with kale.
Radishes- Yep, radishes are also a cruciferous veg! While they are typically sliced thinly and enjoyed as a garnish for salads or Mexican food, they turn utterly smooth and buttery when roasted. The French love radishes so much, they often serve them whole, slathered with fresh country butter and sea salt! The extra-large Japanese radish known as daikon can be thinly sliced and used as a “taco shell” for an Asian-fusion appetizer!
Wasabi- Wasabi, and its cousin, horseradish, are spicy members of the cruciferous family. Wasabi is most commonly used as a sushi condiment that packs a powerful punch! You can purchase wasabi paste from your local grocery store, and use it in rubs for salmon, on homemade sushi bowls, or in a spicy vinaigrette. It’s even great tossed with garlic edamame for a spicy kick to an old favorite.
Next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up one of these nutritional powerhouses and enjoy it throughout the week! You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy they are to prepare, and how delicious the result is. Plus, the health benefits are incredible! Share your cruciferous recipes with you friends and spread the love.