Cruciferous Creativity

Sounds like a vampire craft fair or something, right? If you’re not familiar, cruciferous refers to a group of super healthy veggies in the cabbage family including: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale and bok choy. They’re packed with nutrients and fiber and are total powerhouses when it comes to giving your body vitamins A, C, K, fiber and folic acid.

Now, if cruciferous veggies conjure up thoughts of a smelly kitchen or a bitter aftertaste for you, I am here to teach you how to makeover your dishes so they please any palate. Plus, I’ve got some ideas for ways to get creative with your preparation so you don’t get bored with the same old sides.

cruciferous veggies

Nutritionists around the globe count cruciferous vegetables among the world’s “superfoods” as they contain phytochemicals, which have the potential to fight disease. One phytochemical in particular, sulforaphane, has even been shown to stimulate enzymes that help the body detox carcinogens. (Always a good thing!)

Cruciferous veggies are delicious raw but a lot of folks find it easier to digest them when they’re lightly cooked. As for avoiding that stinky kitchen? That happens when you overcook them, resulting in the sulfur smell (and a loss of nutritional value to boot.) So, keep an eye on that pot or pan.

Easy Tips to Add Cruciferous Veggies Into Your Diet:

  • Look for precut cruciferous veggies to speed your prep & make it easier for you to add them in to your meals
  • Lightly blanch broccoli and cauliflower and add them to raw veggie platters with your favorite dips
  • Toss them into soups, stews, and stir-fry. Cruciferous veggies work great with Asian flavor profiles so try them with soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and curry.
  • Try them all as a slaw! Cruciferous veggies taste great in creamy or tangy coleslaw dressing 

Tweak Your Style:

  • A great way to even out the occasionally intense flavor of these veggies is to add a flavorful garnish. Try sweet, tangy, salty, or crunchy additions to balance the taste and suit your personal palate. 
  • A stir-fry staple, bok choi is a completely different (super tasty!) dish when grilled and finished with a sweet miso glaze.
  • Roasting veggies brings out the natural sweetness and if you do it on parchment paper, you’ll end up with a perfect crispness (and a really easy cleanup.) Before throwing them in the oven, give them a toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, curry powder or other spices. You can even make your own kale chips!
  • If you like mashed potatoes, you will love pureed cauliflower. It’s a healthy and super satisfying alternative to the starchy favorite.
  • Switch things up by mixing cruciferous veggies with other types of vegetables like sweet potato, and try adding a bit of citrus juice or zest as a fun twist.
  • Add some tangy flavors to help brighten side dishes and offset any bitterness. Think sauerkraut or kimchee.

Cruciferous veggies can be pretty fun to experiment with in the kitchen, and they’re amazing for your health. Have fun playing around with your recipes & let me know what you come up with!