Incorporating Brussels sprouts in your meal plan

They may be small, but the benefits of Brussels sprouts are mighty.

Brussels sprouts can provide your body with unique health benefits. Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of vitamin C, as well as vitamin A and E. They are one of the best vegetable sources of vitamin K, which assists in promoting bone formation and strengthening. Brussels sprouts are also rich in minerals such as copper, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus.

Brussels sprouts are members of the broccoli and cabbage vegetable family. They have a diameter of about one inch, resembling miniature cabbages. Brussels sprouts can grow in batches of 20 to 40 on a stem as high as three feet tall. They are often sold in stores separately, but sometimes sold with the stem attached. Brussels sprouts are available all year, but their peak growing season is from autumn through early spring.

When choosing Brussels sprouts, select ones that are firm, compact and bright green. They should be free of yellow or wilted leaves and not soft in texture. Unwashed and untrimmed Brussels sprouts can be kept for up to 10 days in the refrigerator. Before preparing Brussels sprouts, remove stems and any discolored leaves then wash well under running water. It is very important not to overcook Brussels sprouts as they will not only lose their nutritional value and taste but they will have an unpleasant sulfur smell. It is recommended for maximum nutrition and flavor to prepare Brussels sprouts by steaming them with two inches of water, stir-fry or microwave.

These small, compact, easy to eat vegetables make great snack alternatives, are loaded with fiber, vitamin C and vitamin A. Brussels sprouts can add a new dimension to your daily food choices. Try Brussels sprouts as a side dish or combined with red onions, walnuts, your favorite cheese and tossed with olive oil for a great salad.

For more information about fresh vegetables contact Michigan State University Extension Michigan Fresh.

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