Yes, they deserve an exclamation point. I've always been a veggie lover. I actually enjoy them more than fruit--weird, I know. While scrolling through fellow Paleolithic eaters' pictures online, I've noticed a saddening trend: BORING VEGGIES. My goal in doing this 3 part "Veggies!" series is to get you all excited about dreaded veggies, and to encourage eating a variety of them.
The fact is, vegetables are where most of our nutrients come from. Meats are a vital source of fats, protein, and iron (among other things), but vegetables provide us with much of what we need to keep our immune system strong and properly fuel our bodies. The fact is, America is not lacking in meat consumption, but we do not eat nearly enough vegetables. Why? Perhaps it's because they have been stereotyped as boring and tasteless. Of course, much of why we find vegetables tasteless is because our palettes are accustomed to highly processed and salted foods, so we lose an appreciation for the natural flavors in plants. But, we also don't explore the creative cooking possibilities for veggies, so we tend to regulate ourselves to steaming and salting some mainstream veggies--carrots, broccoli, green beans--then we scarf them down as quickly as possible so we can say, "I ate my veggies."
I'm here to bust the myth that veggies are boring! I'm going to provide you with three delicious veggie ideas to help you get out of that steamed broccoli rut, and also let you know about some of the nutritional benefits of the feature veggie in each recipe to emphasize the importance of variety in your veggie choices.
So, without further ado, allow me to introduce you to the wonderful world of...
Part I: Brussels Sprouts
I have recently fallen in love with brussels sprouts--a veggie I ignored passionately for years. They are not a common part of most people's diets because they have a bad rap. For me, I didn't grow up eating them, so I was actually scared to try them. But, for most people, they're hatred of brussels sprouts comes from having eaten them poorly prepared--too soggy, no flavor, CANNED (ew). But I have found some really delicious ways to prepare them.
Before I share one of these delicious recipes, I want to talk about WHY we should include brussels sprouts in our diet.
Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable, meaning it is a part of the mustard family which includes mustard greens, kale, broccoli, and cauliflower, among others. Brussels sprouts are high in fiber which aids in good digestive health. They are also high in vitamin K making them a great anti-inflammatory vegetable. One of the more surprising facts about brussels sprouts is that they are high in Omega 3 fatty acids! This of course makes them beneficial for several reasons including fighting inflammation, and in turn fighting cardiovascular disease. Brussels are also detoxifying. Because they are a good source of glucosinolates, consuming them activates enzyme systems in our cells that clean out cancer-causing substances from our bodies. If you want to read a more about these benefits, check out this article.
Clearly, brussels sprouts are SUPER good for us, so how do we make them yummy? Try this Spicy Basil Brussels Sprout recipe!
This recipe is a little spicy, and also a little sweet--just like me! Wink, wink. It's great all on it's own as a side to your favorite meat, but would also be delicious over spaghetti squash, zoodles, or cauliflower rice. You could also eat them in one of my favorite ways--topped with an egg!
Spicy Basil Brussels Sprouts (2 servings)
3 slices of bacon chopped
1 cup of raw quartered brussels sprouts
1/2 cup diced tomatoes (I actually used organic canned fire roasted, but you can use fresh as well)
1/4 onion sliced
3 garlic cloves coarsely chopped
1/2 liquid cup of balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs dried basil (2 Tbs if using fresh)
1 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less depending on how spicy you like it)
Salt to taste
Place chopped bacon and brussels sprouts in a pan over medium heat. I cook them for a bit on their own because the brussels will take longer than the other ingredients to cook. After they have cooked for a bit. Add remaining ingredients. Cook until the onions and balsamic vinegar have cooked down.