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Boost your Health with Brassicas

March 20, 2012

Brassicas are vegetables containing a powerhouse of immune boosting nutrients. In recent years they have undergone close scientific research and revealed special compounds known as glucosinolates that trigger detoxifying enzymes to help eliminate carcinogens. They are also antiviral, antibacterial and are natural weapons against disease. Their properties can enrich the blood and remove drug and other toxic deposits from the body. To get the broadest of health benefits choose differing colour vegetables as this naturally represents a wider variety of nutrients.

Some of the more readily available brassicas include:

Cabbages, Cauliflowers, Kale, Broccoli (including Tender Stem and Calabrese), Turnips, Brussels Sprouts, Pak Choi, Mustard, Cress, Radish, Kohlabi, Horseradish and Wasabi.

They don’t just have to be plain boiled additions to a traditional meal. Soups, salads and stir frys are ideal for all of the above.

Red Cabbage Winter Salad

Mix red cabbage with walnuts, chopped fennel, apples and grated celeriac. Cider vinegar, freshly squeezed orange juice, honey and any available fresh herbs make a delicious oil free dressing for the salad. For a further low-fat health boost you could also add protein rich legumes, grains and nuts or even quinoa (a high protein grain similar to rice containing all 8 essential amino acids).

Cruciferous Coleslaw

Mix together different varieties of chopped cabbage (red, white, savoy and chinese) and add some raw brussels sprouts, turnips, pak choi and thinly sliced kohlrabi including the leaves. For extra kick add some grated ginger and horseradish. For the dressing use extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and some freshly squeezed lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. This is great served with cold smoked salmon or mackerel – both high in Omega 3.

Chinese Stir Fry

All the brassicas can be used to make a flavoursome stir fry. All chopped peppers and spring onions for a vitamin C boost. Heat some light olive oil or a few drops of sesame oil in a wok or non stick frying pan and when very hot add all the chosen vegetables at once. Fry for a few minutes making sure you keep stirring to avoid burning the vegetables and to give them an all round flavour. Next add some dark soy sauce. There is no need to add salt or any other seasonings. Cook for a maximum of 3 minutes to ensure that the dish retains a healthy crispness in the vegetables. Best served with chicken breasts that have been steamed, or poached in low-fat coconut milk and spices such as coriander and lemon grass.

Hearty Warming Dishes

Try and substitute family favourites with the more unusual brassicas. Instead of potatoes for bubble and squeak try turnip and kohlrabi and try it with kale and brussels sprouts. When the vegetables are cooked and combined add a pinch of nutmeg and an egg. Once fried sprinkle with some parmesan cheese. Goes well with Italian salami and fresh cherry tomatoes.

Brassicas can reward you with some amazing and versatile meals. It’s about time they left the ‘meat and two veg’ category and stepped into the Super Food status! Enjoy!

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