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Whole Gourmet Natural Cooking

Alison Anton's Natural Cooking Blog offers healthy recipes, inspirational food articles and culinary advice for the natural chef, and features dessert recipes from her upcoming cookbook, Desserts for Every Body.

Friday, January 05, 2007

New Year's Resolution #1: Eat More Cruciferous Vegetables!

Food can sometimes be our best medicine. Nature has blessed us with healing foods of all kinds, but the handful of mighty vegetables known as the cruciferous varieties are particularly powerful in protecting against all kinds of diseases like cancer, heart disease and strokes.

They are called "cruciferous" because, if given the chance to come to full bloom, these vegetables have flowers with four petals that resemble a cross - or crux in Latin. These veggies include arugula, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, radishes, turnip greens and watercress.

Each one of these power-packed vegetables contain vitamins-a-plenty, mega-minerals and other substances that research has proven to be active forces in fighting disease. Says the Linus Pauling Macronutrient Institute , "One characteristic that sets cruciferous vegetables apart from other vegetables is their high glucosinolate content [that] can help prevent cancer by enhancing the elimination of carcinogens before they can damage DNA".

Kale in particular is one of the best-known cancer fighters on the planet. Kale is a deep leafy green vegetable that is the richest of all leafy greens in carotenoids. It is extremely high in calcium, in a form that is more absorbable by the body than milk. Since this form of calcium is so easily assimilated, it is a wonder for protecting against osteoporosis and other bone diseases. Although cooking destroys some of the vitamins and phytonutrients, heating high-mineral foods leaves the minerals unscathed.

Unfortunately, people with sensitive systems can have a hard time digesting cruciferous vegetables. Most commonly, these vegetables can cause bloating, stomach upset and gas. If you suffer from these symtoms, but want to add more cruciferous vegetables to your diet, try adding them gradually in small amounts so that your body slowly learns how to tolerate them. Start by adding 1/4-1/2 cup twice a week and increase from there.

Preventing disease before it happens is one of the ways that we can take responsibility for our health. In this modern day and age no one is immune, but by eating a variety of fresh organic vegetables, especially the cruciferous and deep leafy varieties, we are decreasing the total load of toxicity in our bodies and taking positive steps toward longevity and happiness. Now that's getting to the "crux" of the matter!

Article References:
Linus Pauling Institute
Bauman College culinary course material
Prescription for Dietary Wellness, Phyllis A. Balch

Brussels Sprouts with Vinegar Glazed Red Onions
[print recipe]
Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts
Yield: 4 side servings

1 pound Brussels sprouts
Olive oil for sauteeing
1 red onion, sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Trim the outer leaves and stems from the Brussels sprouts and cut each in half lenghthwise. Steam the sprouts until bright green and tender all the way through, 12-15 minutes.

In a medium saute pan, heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the red onion slices and a dash of salt and pepper. Saute until crispy golden. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook, stirring frequently, until the vinegar is reduced and the onions are glazed. Remove the onions from the pan.

Add a little more oil to the pan and toss in the steamed Brussels sprouts. Add a dash of salt and pepper, and saute until they have browned around the edges, about 3 minutes.

Toss the onions into the Brussels sprouts and remove to a decorative plate or bowl. Sprinkle the toasted pine nuts over the top. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Steamed Kale and Carrots with Lemon Tahini Sauce
[print recipe]
Yield: 4 side servings

1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup tahini (sesame butter)
Splash of tamari
1 tablespoon honey
1 bunch kale, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 green onions, sliced
Black sesame seeds (optional garnish)

Blend the garlic, lemon juice, tahini, tamari and honey in a small dish until creamy (use a blender if desired). Add water in increments to make a smooth, pourable dressing. Adjust flavors by adding a little more lemon juice, tamari or honey, if needed. Let stand at least 15 minutes for the flavors to develop.

Steam the kale and carrots together for 5-8 minutes, until tender and bright in color. Remove the vegetables to a bowl or serving plate and toss with the dressing. Top with the green onions and garnish with the optional black sesame seeds. Serve warm.


At 2:27 PM , Blogger HStrang said...

Hi Alison,

I love your site and blog!
I also am I huge wheat-free, dairy-free, and no refined sugar fan.

Check out my blog at:

We should find a way to work together. :)


At 2:32 PM , Blogger HStrang said...

OK, let me try again...

"I'm also a huge wheat-free, dairy-free, and no refined sugar fan."

Geez! You'd think I was a writer or something. :)

Take care,

At 6:43 AM , Blogger Melissa said...

Hola from Panama! You've got a beautiful, colorful blog. Congratulations!

At 8:25 AM , Blogger Karina said...

Hi Alison!

Yay - more veggies! :-)

Just wanted to stop by and wish you a healthy and fab 2007!


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