Today we’re going to talk about cabbages! Or rather, a family of vegetables that is one of the healthiest, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory of all: the crucifers!
Although they are very important to us, it seems that they have gone out of fashion and that we no longer know how to use them.
In today’s video, I will show you how to include this family of green leaves in your daily diet, simply and without complications.
To see the video, you know, click on the image (in Portuguese):
Crucifers: what are they?
The crucifers are a vast family of plants whose leaves grow in crosses, hence their name.
It includes vegetables as familiar as broccoli, all cabbages, from Portuguese cabbage to Brussels sprouts, cauliflower too, Chinese cabbage and also bulb vegetables like celery and kohlrabi.
But then why are they so important?
Because these vegetables, in addition to all the vitamins and minerals they contain, also contain a sulfur compound which when digested has strong anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and particularly anti-cancer action. This compound is called sulforaphane.
Just google this topic to see the profusion of studies that support these conclusions.
I particularly like to read Dr. Fuhrman, author of the book “Super Immunity”, which is published in Portuguese, and also Dr. Michael Greger, author of the book “How not to Die” that I have already mentioned in my video on Healthy Fats (see HERE).
Although with different approaches, both point us to these vegetables as being fundamental for the maintenance of our health at all levels – as I mentioned before: they reduce inflammation in the body, strengthen our immunity and still act as an antidote in the processes of DNA alteration prior to the appearance of cancer cells.
All these studies also mention another very interesting effect, which is to prevent the creation of the network of blood vessels that will irrigate the tumors.
Crucifers: how to cook
When I was a kid people used to eat a lot of cabbage. These days we are less keen on cooking it. And they’re completely absent from restaurant menus in general.
So I think it’s worth showing you how to eat them more often. I suggest you try to eat at least one vegetable from this family a day. But make it varied.
In food, there is no “more is more”, our organism likes variety and parsimony. There are also those who associate the excess of these vegetables with hypothyroidism…
An important note: to make the most of these anti-cancer properties of the crucifers, it is advisable to eat them raw or cook them gently.
To cook them, you have to cut them or even crush them before adding them to a pot, a stew, or a soup, for example.
I’ll show you what else I eat, and how I do it at home.
Broccoli and cauliflower
First of all, broccoli and cauliflower: they are very frequent in my meals, so much so that I have many recipes with these two, both in the blog and on Instagram.
My favorite ways of cooking them are steaming and roasting them.
If steamed they will become light and sweet, when we bake them they become much saltier. I like to use the first method to accompany fish and the second method to accompany some meat dishes.
So you don’t get tired of it all the time, do as I do: vary the way you season.
When I bake these vegetables, I accentuate the flavor by seasoning them with garlic powder, dried herbs like thyme or oregano, and, in the case of cauliflower, smoked paprika. I know that this is not the cooking technique that takes the most advantage of its properties so I will vary.
About steamed vegetables, I like to make different sauces like “vinaigrette”: I use different kinds of vinegar or juices from different citrus fruits, and I also vary different herbs.
In the highlights of my Instagram, you find the demonstration of how to make a vinaigrette sauce with fresh dill that is very good and very versatile!
To make sure you still benefit from the anti-cancer properties of Sulforaphane, you can complement these cooked vegetables with other raw materials from the same family – for example, chopped red cabbage – or with chopped horseradish or even ground mustard seeds.
More recipes with Broccoli and Cauliflower:
Brócolos e Couve-Flor com Pesto
Tofu com Couve-Flor e Quinoa de Curcuma e Limão
Cabbage and other Green Leafy Vegetables
You can simply steam all the green leaves – bok choi is delicious when simply steamed; even the heart cabbage looks great.
And then use the same sauces on the cooked leaves.
But my favorite way to include green leaves in my dishes is to cut them into thin strips and add them to the casserole dishes: stews, curry, or that dish of lentils pasta that I showed you in the video “A day without sugar” (see HERE).
But remember: to benefit from the antioxidant advantages of vegetables, we have to cut them 40 minutes in advance.
What to do with Kale?
Kale was the trendy vegetable a few years ago. Now it looks like it’s less in fashion. But it’s still super nutritious and it’s worth knowing how to use it because today it’s very easy to find several types of kale in organic markets.
These leaves are very hard and have to be either cut into thin strips when you want to cook them, or massaged by hand if you want to eat raw in salad.
Here’s how you do it:
- Remove the central stems.
- Cut the leaves into strips or pieces like lettuce.
- Put them in a salad bowl.
- Season with a spoonful of olive oil and some lemon juice.
- Massage by hand for two to three minutes.
- You’ll feel the texture of the leaves changing, getting much softer. The color gets darker too.
Then you can combine more ingredients to your salad and season with a tasty vinaigrette. Or with a tahini sauce that also binds very well.
Another very simple and healthy way to eat kale is to include one or two leaves in a smoothie or even a homemade pesto. As they are both raw, they are excellent sources of the aforementioned sulforaphane.
For example: adapt this recipe with kale instead of spinach.
And well, it seems to me that you already have here some good tips on how to include the crucifers family in your daily diet, without having to make radical changes to what you cook.
How does that sound? You gonna try it?
I’d love to know if you like this article 😀.