Eat right, live well: Brussels sprouts deserve a spot on your plate

As the weather cools off I start thinking about brussels sprouts. These little jewels are the perfect vegetable for this time of the year, growing more flavorful and more nutritious every day in the chilly temperatures.

Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable, a diverse group of especially nutrient-packed vegetables that includes broccoli, cabbage, mustard, kale, turnips, horseradish among others. Brussels sprouts are low in calories, carbohydrates and fats and are an excellent source of vitamins C and vitamin K. In addition, they're a very good source of folate, manganese, vitamins B1 and B6, fiber, and a good source of iron, vitamins A and B2, protein, magnesium. Studies show that eating brussels sprouts supports the immune system, reduces inflammation and reduces the risk of certain cancers.

So many reasons already to add them to your plate. But wait ... there's more!

Brussels sprouts lend themselves to a variety of simple preparations. They can be steamed, grilled, blanched or roasted. My favorite technique, roasting, brings out the vegetable's sweetness. I cut the sprouts in half, toss them with a little olive oil at cook at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. Prepared this way, brussels sprouts can be the foundation for a delicious side dish at dinner, or added to number of breakfast and lunch options.

Here are some other ways to include brussels sprouts in your fall menus:

• Add roasted and chopped brussels sprouts to an egg omelet at breakfast.

• Skewer raw sprouts with onions and peppers for grilled kebabs.

• Toss with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sesame seeds and roast them.

• Mix halved or quartered sprouts into your favorite stir fry.

• Shred raw sprouts into a dinner salad.

• Steam and stir into cooked quinoa; garnish with dried cranberries.

Try this recipe: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Shaved Parmesan is sure to be a winner with you and your kids.

• Toby Smithson, a registered dietitian, is the author of “Diabetes Meal Planning and Nutrition for Dummies” and is a national spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan

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