February…

It’s still winter, and still cold! I personally am thinking spring: warm sunshine, starting the garden and all the lovely produce at the farmers’ markets and grocery stores. However, while we are longing, there is plenty of great, nutrient-packed produce in season in February.

To name a common few, right now you can get winter squash, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, pears, oranges, and greens such as collard, chard, mustard and lettuce. See my previous blog post for a great recipe using butternut squash.

Fresh brussels sprouts

Fresh brussels sprouts are very nutritious.

The star of the winter season is decidedly BRUSSELS SPROUTS. Do not be deterred just yet. They have more to offer than their connotation, which is sadly similar to that of lima beans among children (and adults) everywhere. This member of the cabbage family is very nutritious and can be easily added to a repertoire of foods that fight cancer.

Properly prepared, Brussels sprouts taste great – without that hint of sulfur (which comes from overcooking them). You can microwave them in a bowl with a bit of water; or, you can boil them on the stove.  Just remember that they’re finished cooking as soon as they turn a bright green color.

Brussels sprouts contain dietary fiber, vitamin C, folate and other B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, beta-carotene (a carotenoid), phosphorus and vitamin K. All of these nutrients work together to support various body functions and systems. For more information on how these nutrients benefit you, visit this site.

Fiber, vitamin C, folate and carotenoids have been studied in cancer prevention. Research shows that a diet high in fiber may decrease the risk of colorectal cancers, while adding vitamin C and carotenoids to your diet is associated with a lower risk of cancers of the esophagus, pharynx, larynx, mouth and lungs. A diet high in folate has been linked to a lower risk of pancreatic cancer.

Brussels sprouts are good for us! To help you incorporate this very nutritious vegetable that is now in season, I recommend the recipe below. It makes several servings so it could be cut in half. Add more lemon juice if it tastes too sweet, salty or metallic for those with taste changes from chemo or radiation therapy. 

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Onions

From EatingWell:  November/December 2009

10 servings, about 3/4 cup each

Active Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 4 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 sprigs thyme or savory, plus 2 teaspoons leaves, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (optional)

Preparation

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. If sprouts are very small, cut in half; otherwise cut into quarters. Cook the sprouts until barely tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring, until brown but not crisp, 3 to 6 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on a paper towel. Pour out all but about 1 tablespoon bacon fat from the pan.
  3. Add oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until soft but not browned, reducing the heat if necessary, about 4 minutes. Stir in thyme (or savory) sprigs, salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium-high, add the Brussels sprouts, and cook, tossing or stirring occasionally, until tender and warmed through, about 3 minutes. Remove the herb sprigs. Add the bacon, thyme (or savory) leaves and lemon juice, if using, and toss.

Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 1, rinse with cold water; store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. Finish with Steps 2-3, 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Nutrition: 81 calories; 3 g fat ( 1 g sat , 2 g mono ); 4 mg cholesterol; 10 g carbohydrates; 5 g protein; 3 g fiber; 333 mg sodium; 432 mg potassium

Carbohydrate Servings: 1/2

Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 1 fat

Nutrition Note: Vitamin C (130% daily value), Folate & Vitamin A (19% daily value)