Cruciferous Vegetables

We've all heard our mom say "eat your veggies" before. But it's not because she wants you to have a bad time.

As adults, we get that. We know that veggies are the cornerstone of any diet. But the truth is, they aren't all created equal. In fact, some veggies are lightyears ahead of others.

I'm talking about cruciferous vegetables. They're so good for our health, the Harvard Health Blog calls them a superfood. And you won't hear any arguments from me.

What is a cruciferous vegetable?

Cruciferous veggies are named after the latin crucifix. You can tell them apart from other veggies because their 4 petals resemble a cross. You probably recognize most of these.

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Arugula
  • Bok Choy
  • Radishes

But there's more to these vegetables than their looks. Cruciferous veggies also contain tons of nutrients. Many of them are rich in vitamins and minerals, like Vitamin K or folate. You even get vitamins A and C from the dark greens. Plus, they're packed with fiber so you stay full for longer.

Plus, you get a lot of phytonutrients when you chow down on cruciferous vegetables. Phytonutrients are plant-based compounds that naturally help you lower inflammation.

There's 1 more big benefit and it's where most of these veggies hang their hats. Cruciferous vegetables can help reduce your risk of cancer. This is thanks to glucosinolates. That $10 word is the chemical that causes the aroma and flavor of cruciferous vegetables. But studies show that it has strong antibacterial and antiviral effects too.

How much should I eat?

For the folks who don't like eating their veggies, there's good news. You don't need a lot of cruciferous vegetables to reap the benefits.

The US Department of Agriculture recommends 2 1/2 cups for women and 3 cups for men. A single cup of raw and cooked veggies, like broccoli or cauliflower, counts as 1 cup. But you'll need 2 cups of raw, leafy veggies like kale and bok choy to count as a full cup of nutrients.

Got any cruciferous vegetable recipes?

I'm so glad you asked! I've found some great ways to prepare these veggies so you get the vitamins and minerals in a tasty way.

Cauliflower — You can do much more than steam it. Try slicing it into "steaks" and roasting it on the grill. It also makes a great pizza crust if you're looking for a healthier alternative to pizza dough. 

Brussels Sprouts — My absolute favorite way to roast them is the oven. Drizzle some honey on top for a sweet, crunchy flavor.

Kale — You either love kale or hate kale. I think it makes a great green for salads. Get rid of the stem and slice into thin ribbons for best results. It makes a great pair with something sweet — like roasted carrots, diced apples or even dried fruit. That helps combat the bitterness.

Arugula — I love arugula because it's so easy to grow in your garden. You can blend it into a pesto or use it to top a pizza. And of course, you can always combine arugula/feta cheese and balsamic dressing.

Have you tried any of these before? Let me know in the comments your favorite way to eat cruciferous vegetables.

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