Brussels sprouts have come a long way since they were the bane of every kid’s dinner plate. They’ve experienced a renaissance in the past several years. You can now find them on menus at fine dining establishments across America. If you haven’t given brussels sprouts a chance since you were a kid, it may be time to give them another shot.
What goes with brussel sprouts? Judging by how they are typically served in restaurants, the answer is resounding: bacon. But this cruciferous veggie has so much more to offer than a placement as bacon’s sidekick.
Brussels sprouts can stand alone as a main or a side dish. Garlic, nuts, citrus, and balsamic vinegar all play off of brussels sprouts’s flavor beautifully. Read on for tips on how to prepare, pair, and serve brussels sprouts as a side dish or main course.
Why We Should All Be Eating More Brussel Sprouts
Brussels Sprouts Are A Low-Lectin Food
Lectins are plant-defense chemical compounds found in many foods. Foods with high levels of lectins can impact human health in various ways. Lectins can block the body’s absorption of nutrients and cause issues with digestion, irritation, and more.1
Fortunately, brussels sprouts are on Dr. Gundry’s “yes” list of low lectin foods.2 Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable, similar to cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli. Compared to some other types of vegetables, cruciferous veggies have low levels of lectins.
Brussels sprouts also contain polyphenols. Polyphenols may help support your immune system and digestive system.3,4
Brussels Sprouts Are Low In Calories, High In Nutrients
Brussels sprouts are healthy nutrient powerhouses. Here is the nutritional information for one half cup (78g) of brussels sprouts:
- Calories kcal: 28
- Protein: 2 grams
- Carbs: 6 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Vitamin K: 137% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 81% of the RDI
- Vitamin A: 12% of the RDI
- Folate: 12% of the RDI
- Manganese: 9% of the RDI5
Brussels Sprouts Are Linked To Numerous Health Benefits
- Antioxidants may promote heart health and help to reduce oxidative stress6
- Vitamin K assists in supporting blood and bone health7
- Vitamin C may aid in healthy immune function, and iron absorption8
- Dietary fiber helps support gut health and healthy blood sugar levels 9,10
How To Cook Brussels Sprouts
These are the three main methods for cooking brussels sprouts:
Once you master these simple techniques, you can add in different oils, spices, and flavour-boosters to your liking.
Quick tip: try making a double batch and saving the leftovers in an airtight container for dinner the next day.
Steaming Brussels Sprouts
Steaming brussels sprouts will give you a simple, fresh dish. These are ready in no time, minutes really. Here’s how to steam brussels sprouts:
- Rinse 1 lb of brussels sprouts and remove yellowing or damaged leaves.
- Cut each sprout in half, from top to bottom.
- Place the brussels sprouts, ½ cup of water, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a medium-sized pot.
- Cover and cook on high heat for 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and serve immediately.11
Sautéeing Brussels Sprouts On The Stove
Sauteed brussels sprouts get more crispy than the steamed variety. They are delicious. Here’s a basic recipe:
- Rinse, trim, and halve 1 lb of brussels sprouts.
- Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high. If you’d like to incorporate bacon (from grass fed and finished/pasture raised pork), cook the meat first, remove the meat, and leave the drippings.
- Place the brussels sprouts cut side down in the hot oil.
- Once they are settled, don’t disturb the skillet. You want them to brown.
- After 5-8 minutes, check to make sure they’ve charred a bit and give them a stir.
- Continue to cook another 5-8 minutes, until they are just tender on the inside.
- Optional: just before you remove them from the heat, toss in aromatics like minced garlic, shallots, onions, or thyme. Finish with a squeeze of lemon.
- Salt and pepper to taste.12
Roasting Brussels Sprouts In Your Oven
Roasting brussels sprouts mellows out the flavor and lends some sweetness. Here’s a trusted, easy method for cooking roasted brussels sprouts with ingredients you probably already have at home.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- Prepare a baking sheet by covering it with parchment paper.
- Rinse, trim, and halve 1 lb of brussels sprouts.
- Toss your brussels sprouts in a medium-sized mixing bowl and drizzle with 2 Tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Mix to coat.
- Arrange the sprouts in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet, cut side down.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes until sprouts are visibly crispy and brown.
- Sprinkle additional salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.13
Flavor Variations: What Goes With Brussels Sprouts
Once you have your preferred method of cooking down, it’s easy to add additional ingredients to change up the flavor. Here are some ideas:
Brussels Sprouts With Bacon
To add this delicious flavor to your brussel sprouts and still benefit from a lectin-free diet, you’ll need to use grass-fed and finished(pasture raised) bacon. Cook the bacon first. Once cooked, remove the bacon from the pan and set aside. Cook the sprouts in the bacon grease, following the instructions for sauteed brussel sprouts. Mix in cut up pieces of bacon at the end.
Garlic Brussels Sprouts With Pine Nuts And Parmesan
Follow the instructions for roasted brussels sprouts. About 10 minutes in, open the oven and toss cloves garlic minced, fresh grated parmesan, and pine nuts in with the sprouts. Continue cooking for 10-20 additional minutes.
Citrusy Brussels Sprouts
Follow the instructions for roasted brussels sprouts. In a small bowl, mix together some orange zest, juice, and small pieces of lemons. Mix this in with your sprouts, olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes until caramelized. Serve immediately.14
Brussels Sprouts With Balsamic Vinegar Glaze
Follow the instructions for roasted brussels sprouts. As soon as you remove them from the oven, toss them with balsamic vinegar.15 This adds a bit of brightness and sweetness without having to actually add something like brown sugar.
What Pairs Well With Brussels Sprouts?
Grass-Fed And Finished Meats
- Grass fed steak
- Pork chops
- Roasted chicken
- Omega 3 eggs
Wild Caught Fish
- Alaskan halibut
- Alaskan salmon
Other Vegetables, Fruits, And Nuts
Make a vegetarian main meal out of brussels sprouts by mixing them with other healthy plant products, like:
- Shredded kale, walnuts, and fresh herbs
- Toasted nuts
- Sauteed garlic and onions
- Red pepper (peeled and deseeded)
- Sprinkled with grated raw beets
Make It Your Own
Brussels sprouts make a healthy, delicious, lectin-free meal you can feel good about eating and serving to your family. If you have a favorite recipe and you’re looking to add something green, try adapting a Brussels sprout recipe. This veggie is truly adaptable to different flavors and types of cuisine.