How to Love One of America's Most Hated Vegetables

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There is no such thing as a bad vegetable, but there are several that most Americans just plain hate. Or, at least they think they do.

Notoriously at the top of the “most hated” list are Brussels sprouts. In all honesty, they were at the top of my list for years, too. I remember as kids, my sister and I would sit at the kitchen counter begging for mercy so we wouldn’t have to eat those little green cabbages. We were happy however, to break into the sugar jar and have “sugar tea parties” with our dolls in our closet. That lasted about two stomachaches before we were caught. Really, it’s a wonder how I ever became a dietitian.

That said, if you find yourself picking up speed when you approach the bin of Brussels sprouts, slow down and consider grabbing a bunch because I have some news — and more importantly, delicious preparation tips — that will change your mind about this vegetable.

First, you should know that Brussels sprouts are nutrient powerhouses. They are rich in lutein (a phytochemical that promotes eye health), have loads of vitamin C (essential to ward off colds this time of year), and folic acid (a B vitamin that helps the body make new, healthy cells). They also contain sulforaphane, a compound that is believed to help prevent cancer, diabetes, and prevent overgrowth of harmful bacteria. All of this for just 60 calories a cup!

Clearly, these are great choice to add nutrients to your diet without a lot of calories — which just leaves us with the taste issue. If you immediately think extreme bitterness or unpleasant smell when you think about Brussels sprouts, it probably has more to do with the way they were prepared when you consumed them in the past. Overcooking Brussels sprouts releases a compound that causes an unpleasant sulphurous odor and causes bitterness. I find that often times, this results from boiling the sprouts. (Incidentally, it’s not ideal to boil any vegetable because so many of the nutrients are lost in the water.)

Instead, my favorite preparation method to prevent the sulphur smell and bitterness, and to retain nutrients, is to roast Brussels sprouts. Try tossing a bunch of sprouts with olive oil, salt, and real maple syrup and roasting on a foil-lined baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes. The result is sweet and crisp outside, with tender (non-bitter) insides. I have converted many haters with this recipe! Here are 10 more ideas for ways to prepare Brussels sprouts. Give them a chance. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.