The Little Cabbage that Could

Brussels sprouts on stalks

Brussels sprouts on stalks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Brussels sprouts, much like beets and okra, are often maligned as vegetables.  Well, perhaps vegetables are maligned in general, but this trio is, specifically.  Nevertheless, they are consistently favorites of mine.  The Brussel sprout is particularly peculiar, especially when one sees them sold by the stalk for the first time.  The Brussel sprout is but a cultivar of it wild counterpart, the cabbage, and is grown for its edible, miniature cabbage-like buds.

Brussel sprouts and garlic slices in a large skillet.

I first learned to take Brussel sprouts from the traditional salt boil with butter to a sautéed version from a former friend.  And yes, there is a story there. Adding lemon juice, however, was the Brussel sprout talking.  And the Brussel sprout knows best.

Browned Brussel Sprouts with Lemon

5-6 cups Brussel sprouts

Garlic cloves

Olive oil and butter

Kosher salt

Lemon juice and zest

Brussel sprouts, trimmed of stems and outer leaves, with garlic cloves.

Directions:  Rinse and trim stems and outer leaves of Brussel sprouts.  Cut in half.  Peel and slice several cloves of garlic.  Add two tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet along with the halved Brussel sprouts.  Toss sprouts with oil.  Add 1/4 cup water, 1 tsp. Kosher salt, 1 Tbs. lemon juice, and 1 tsp. lemon zest.   Cover and cook on high heat five minutes.   After five minutes, remove lid and stir sprouts which will have begun to brown.  Add two tablespoons butter (or more olive oil) and cook uncovered, face down,  for an additional five minutes.

Transfer to serving plate and top with fresh zest.  Squeeze fresh juice oer top and serve.  Add a wedge of lemon for garnish and additional flavor! If my seventeen year old son thinks these sprouts are the perfect accompaniment for turkey breast, twice-baked potatoes, and gravy, don’t you think they could find favor in your next meal?

Brussels with garlic and lemon.

And now, to increase your appreciation of the little cabbage that could, consider this (from Wikipedia, of course):

  • Forerunners to modern Brussels sprouts were likely cultivated in ancient Rome.
  • Brussels sprouts as we now know them were grown possibly as early as the 13th century in what is now Belgium.The first written reference dates to 1587. During the 16th century, they enjoyed a popularity in the southern Netherlands that eventually spread throughout the cooler parts of Northern Europe.
  • The edible sprouts grow like buds in helical patterns along the side of long thick stalks of approximately 60 to 120 cm (24 to 47 in) in height.
  • They contain good amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid and dietary fibre. Moreover, they are believed to protect against colon cancer, because they contain sinigrin.
  • The largest producers are the Netherlands, at 82,000 metric tons, and Germany, at 10,000 tons. The United Kingdon has production comparable to that of the Netherlands, but it is not generally exported.
  • Production of Brussels sprouts in the United States began in the 18th century, when French Settlers brought them to Louisiana.
  • Thomas Jefferson grew them at Monticello.
  • The first plantings in California began in the 1920s, with significant production beginning in the 1940s.
  • Most of the United States production is in California,with a smaller percentage of the crop grown in Skagit Valley, Washington, where cool springs, mild summers and rich soil abounds.

Lemon and Ginger: Healthy Friends

Lemon ginger water, photograph by Linda Wagner

What could be more comforting than curling up in a cozy spot with your favorite blanket and book and while sipping on mug of piping hot lemon ginger water lightly sweetened with stevia or honey?  Whether nursing a cold or just settling in for the evening,  lem-gin is delicious and potentially full of health benefits.  I know my aunt always made a pot of green beans with ground ginger from the spice rack and served up a bowl before road trips with twist and turns through the Cumberland valley to those of us who tended to get car sick.  Not in the mood for something hot or not a fan of ginger?  Keep a picture of lemon water on hand in your refrigerator and pour yourself a tall glass to refresh and hydrate twice daily.   The goal, says Payal Banka a Registered Dietician and an MBA in Hospital & Healthcare management, is to consume the juice of half a lemon daily.

For Hot Lemon Ginger Water you’ll need:

  • 1/2 inch knob of ginger sliced thinly or grated
  • lemon juice and zest
  • Stevia or honey to taste

Simply pour boiling water over the ginger, let steep for about 5 mins then add lemon juice, a bit of zest, and stevia to taste.  Lovely to sip and inhale.

Health Benefits of the Lemon:

  1. Good for stomach Lemon can help relieve many digestion problems when mixed with hot water. These include nausea, heartburn and parasites. The digestive qualities of lemon juice may also help relieve symptoms of indigestion such as heartburn.  It is even known to help relieve hiccups when consumed as a juice.
  2. Great for Skin Lemon, being a natural antiseptic medicine, can help cure problems related to skin.  Rich in Vitamin C, it is known to rejuvenate skin from within with daily consumption.
  3. Fights Throat Infections Lemon aids in fighting problems related to throat infections and sore throats as it has an antibacterial property. For sore throat, dilute one-half lemon juice with one-half water and gargle frequently.
  4. Good for Weight Loss One of the major health benefits of drinking lemon water is that it paves way for losing weight faster, thus acting as a great weight loss remedy. If a person takes lemon juice mixed with lukewarm water and honey, it can reduce the body weight as well.
  5. Assists in Controlling High Blood Pressure Lemon water is high in potassium, known to aid high blood pressure, dizziness, and nausea.
  6. Assist in curing Respiratory Disorders Lemon water assists in curing respiratory problems, along with breathing problems and revives a person suffering from asthma.
  7. Good for treating Rheumatism Lemon is also a diuretic and hence  can treat rheumatism and arthritis. It helps to flush out bacteria and toxins out of the body.
  8. Reduces Fever Lemon water can treat a person who is suffering from cold, flu or fever. It helps to break fever by increasing perspiration.
  9. Aromatherapy Effects help reduce mental stress.  Just zesting a lemon releases the fragrant oils.  Adding to hot water, icreases the effect as well.

Ginger also has health generating qualities like the ones listed below via Health Diaries:

  1. Morning Sickness A review of several studies has concluded that ginger is just as effective in treating morning sickness.
  2. Motion Sickness Remedy Ginger is an effective remedy for the nausea associated with motion sickness. 
  3. Reduces Pain and Inflammation One study showed that ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and is a powerful natural painkiller.
  4. Heartburn Relief Ginger has long been used as a natural heartburn remedy.  It is most often taken in the form of tea for this purpose.
  5. Cold and Flu Prevention and Treatment Ginger has long been used as a natural treatment for colds and the flu. Many people also find ginger helpful in the case of stomach flus or food poisoning, which is not surprising given the positive effects ginger has upon the digestive tract.
  6. Migraine Relief Research has shown that ginger may provide migraine relief due to its ability to stop prostaglandins from causing pain and inflammation in blood vessels.
  7. Menstrual Cramp Relief In Chinese medicine, ginger tea with brown sugar is used to treat menstrual cramps.
  8. Prevention of Diabetic Nephropathy A study done on diabetic rats found that those rats given ginger had a reduced incidence of diabetic nephropathy (kidney damage)  – via Health Diaries
Of course, while it’s nice to know that a tall glass of lemon water or hot cup of lemon ginger infusion can potentially aid one’s health, enjoying these natural ingredients should not preclude one from seeking medical counsel and screenings or serve as a substitution for recommended medical treatments.

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