The “head” of this household is Cabbage. As you undoubtedly know, there are three major types of cabbage; green, red and Savory (which are yellow in color). While their flavor differs, their benefits are the same. Cabbage is an anti-inflammation food that can be used to relieve headaches, cure ulcers, disinfect the colon and lower the risk of developing many different cancers with its release of Myrosinase enzymes. However, it is important to know that these anti-cancer properties are best obtained as a result of the cabbage being “broken apart” either by slicing, cutting or chewing. Furthermore, since these enzymes are denatured when heated, they can be preserved by chopping the cabbage and allowing it to sit for approximately 15 minutes prior to cooking for no more than five minutes. I steam two cups of this fiber-packed “lettuce” for lunch and add a yam (another fall favorite), some low sodium salmon and spice!
Belgian Endive is a low-calorie vegetable that is and excellent source of such essential vitamins as A (which promotes eye health) and C (for a strong immune system). They are considered “essential” because the body can’t produce them on its own; and at only eight calories per cup, it is also a great source of fiber. Select endive that are smooth and white with yellow tips with leaves that are closed at the tips.Keep endives dry. Wipe with a paper towel or cloth if necessary.Slice off about 1/8 inch from the stem end. Then, with a paring knife, cut a cone shape about 1/2 inch deep from the stem end. Serve as a salad with your favorite low-fat protein and wheat bran (for extra fiber). Finish off with a fresh-squeezed lime!
Broccoli, not a newcomer to my lists of favorite vegetables, is another member of the Cruciferous family; and one cup provides more than your recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. The other vitamins and chemicals found in this “Green Giant” have been found to have anti-cancer properties, bone-fortifying calcium and folic acid, which is believed to reduce the risk of birth defects. Broccoli, as with cabbage, can be prepared many ways. However, they both should be steamed in order to best preserve all of their various enzymes and nutrients. I use it “liberally” as a perfect side dish or break it up into smaller pieces, mix some 99% fat-free ground turkey and toss it on top on gluten and wheat free cavatelli pasta. Almost as good as Mom’s (minus the sausage and olive oil – sorry Dad)!
Brussels Sprouts, are the tiniest of this nutrient dense family. Sure, they contain cancer-fighting properties; however, they also are believed to increase one’s cardiovascular health and help reduce the risk of osteoarthritis. Tracy and I love to roast them in tin foil on the BBQ with some chopped garlic and a sprinkle of chili paprika.
Guess what? There’s one more member of this family I’d like to re-introduce you too. It’s kinda the “black sheep” (so sue me) since the only thing it lacks, compared to its relatives is chlorophyll, which gives the others their vibrant green hue. However, it does have the advantage of being more adaptable than the other Cruciferous. If you want, rather when you crave the lathering satisfaction of mashed potatoes, cauliflower makes an unbelievable, indistinguishable and healthier alternative. And don’t worry if they seem too watery when you puree them. Just add an egg to thicken things up. Right Tracy? Furthermore, just don’t eat the heads (known as the curds); the steam and leaves are edible and perfect for added flavor.
So from now on and for the rest of the fall, when you want to entertain, remember to invite the Cruciferous family to your dinner table more frequently. I promise, your body and health will be grateful you did.