1. Broccoli Sprouts
One of the richest sources of sulforaphane, three-day-old broccoli sprouts contain 10 to 100 times more of the precursor to sulforaphane than mature plants do.
Throw a handful in your morning smoothie or add some to salads, tacos, and sandwiches. Sprouts are short-lived in the fridge, but home microgreen-growing kits make it easy to grow your own supply right on your kitchen counter.
Lightly steam broccoli, or swap in broccoli florets instead of chips with your favorite dip. Roasting the florets (tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper) brings out broccoli’s nutty, caramelized flavor and can make it easier to digest.
And don’t toss those stems: Use a vegetable peeler to remove the tough outer layer, then spiralize the stalks into noodles or throw them into the food processor to make broccoli “rice.” (For more ideas and recipes, see “Broccoli“.)
Cabbage can last weeks in your fridge’s crisper drawer, and as Michael Greger, MD, writes in How Not to Die, it has more antioxidants per dollar than anything else in the produce aisle.
Enjoy it sautéed or roasted, fermented, or raw. Sliced raw cabbage makes an excellent salad base and an easy garnish for tacos or heavier dishes, like casseroles, that need some texture contrast.
Shred red or green cabbage and toss with olive oil or homemade mayo to create a tasty slaw. Cabbage is also the foundation of sauerkraut.
4. Brussels Sprouts
Oven-roasted Brussels sprouts are reliably delightful. Just chop them in half, dress in olive oil, and roast until brown.
To enjoy them raw, use your food processor or a sharp knife to finely shred them, then toss with some nuts, dried cranberries, herbs, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil for a quick and flavorful salad.
Like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, cauliflower florets are delicious roasted. Subbing in cauliflower rice for regular rice is an easy way to up the cruciferous content of curries, stir-fries, or burrito bowls. And try cauliflower as a substitute for potatoes in mashes, gratins, and soups.
Both the tuber and greens of turnips are packed with nutrition. Lightly steam turnip greens and toss with a dressing of olive oil, lemon, and garlic. Peel and slice the root to enjoy with some hummus, or include chopped turnips with other root veggies (including fellow brassica rutabaga) for a roasted side dish. Consider mashing turnips with sweet potatoes for a sweetly earthy alternative to mashed potatoes. (See “Back to Your Roots” for more ideas and recipes.)
7. Collard Greens
Traditionally prepared with a long simmer (often with ham hock), sturdy collard greens can also be steamed to bright green and doused with butter and a little apple-cider vinegar. (Just remember to chop and let sit for 40 minutes before you cook them.)
If you can digest them raw, integrative dietitian Mary Purdy, MS, RDN, recommends using collard-green leaves instead of tortillas in wraps. “Wrap some hummus and veggies in a collard-green leaf, and the flavor of the filling will cover any bitterness you may not enjoy.”
If you’re new to kale, start by sautéing it in olive oil with garlic, salt, pepper, and a little lemon. If you’d like to try kale raw, it can be more digestible than most raw crucifers if you massage it. This helps break down the cell walls and starts the process of synthesizing sulforaphane and other healthy metabolites. Rub the leaves with some vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper; this will also help reduce the kale’s bitterness, says Purdy. (Try this “Raw Kale Salad” recipe.)
Or make kale chips by tearing or chopping the leaves into large pieces. Make sure they’re dry, then toss them with a light coating of olive or avocado oil, and bake at 250 degrees F for about 20 minutes. You can season them before roasting or add spices when they’re done. (For more ideas and recipes, see “How to Cook Kale“.)
The most concentrated of the cruciferous vegetables, horseradish contains more glucosinolates in 1 tablespoon than are in half a cup of cauliflower or bok choy. The root can be eaten raw, pickled, or cooked. As with gingerroot, storing horseradish root in the freezer makes it easy to grab and grate as needed.
Add grated horseradish to sauces or dressings, or to mashed cauliflower (the myrosinase in the horseradish will help convert the glucosinolates in the cooked cauliflower into sulforaphane).
This was excerpted from “Power Vegetables” which was published in the June 2021 issue of Experience Life magazine.