No, this blog has not morphed into a tabloid rag overnight. Though you’re right to question what a story like this is doing on a health and fitness site. We’ll get to that later.
The other day, I was telling my eldest daughter that I recently discovered the joys of Brussels sprouts after an impulse buy at Costco. (The bag was huge, and only $3.99. At that price, it practically leapt into the cart on its own. If nothing else, I reasoned, it offered plenty of chances to screw up many, many recipe attempts without being left sprouts-less at the end of my efforts.)
But let’s back up a bit. I’d passed this bag many times before on my way to snatch up a giant tub of salad greens. Never noticed it. So how is it that it caught my eye on that day? Earlier that week, I was zipping through the produce aisles of my local Whole Foods when a pleasant guy working a demo stand by the bananas smiled at me and said,”Would you like to try some of my pan-seared Brussels sprouts?”
Sure, just as soon as I finish off these last scraps of tree bark gathered from the filthy sidewalk outside, I thought, but out of courtesy – and because I figured I could always spit them out in the napkin the minute he turned his head to deal with another customer – I smiled back and said, “OK, why not?”
Oh. My. How long has THIS been going on?!?! They. Were. YUMTASTIC. Tender with a slight bite, and an earthy-almost-sweet flavor perfectly complemented by whatever magic sauce he’d thrown in the pan. Why on earth had I avoided them all these years?
It’s hard to pinpoint my aversion to any one source. June Cleaver, perhaps? Perfectly-coiffed in her pearls, petticoat and lacquered hair, standing over The Beav at the dinner table and sternly warning him to eat his all up or “there’ll be no dessert for you tonight, young man.” (If you are 20-something and completely lost by that cultural reference, don’t worry about it. No time to catch you up on the joys of an after-school 70s childhood.)
Or, could be the many other horror stories from adults claimed to have been scarred for life by some boiled-to-smithereens version their mom would force on them as kids. Growing up in a West Indian household, I had my own brand of childhood food trauma (like bounding into the kitchen during a homework break and opening up a soup pot lid on the stove with anticipation, only to recoil in horror at the gnarled, hacked-off chicken’s foot clawing up at me from the broth), but Brussels sprouts was never on my mom’s yuh bettah eat it, yuh know how much pickney ah dead fi hungry inna Jamaica? food guilt playlist.
How sad for all of us. There was absolutely nothing wrong with this vegetable. It just needed the right culinary flair. And in the hands of this humble food demo dude, I was instantly converted. I posted myself by his side to thoroughly grill him (no pun intended) on his cooking technique. Which took all of 2 minutes. The recipe is so simple, I can give it to you in one sentence:
Rinse sprouts, chop off ends, halve, throw in olive-oil heated pan with a little salt/pepper, coat with a few splashes of Tessemae’s Southwest Ranch Vinagrette dressing (or zesty vinaigrette of your choice), cover pan, cook for 8-11 minutes, stir occasionally.
That’s it. Sublime. Perfect on its own, or as a complement to fish, tofu or the protein of your choice. Toothsome enough to make you forget about any missing carbs.
Great, you say. But what does all this have to do with 90 farting cows exploding a barn in Germany?
Yeah, I didn’t forget. I’m coming to that. Remember the conversation with my daughter? No sooner did I utter the words “Brussels sprouts,” that she said: “Really? But do they make you fart?”
“Maybe,” I replied honestly.
Listen. Into everyone’s life, some gas must pass. Eventually. Daily, in fact. If not due to Brussels sprouts, some other gastric culprit. So if that’s the case, why say no to all the awesome health benefits that this tender small plant from the cabbage family has to offer? For example, are you aware (I most certainly was not) that there are nearly 100 studies in PubMed (the health research library at the National Library of Medicine in DC) focused on Brussels sprouts, with more than half those involving its health benefits in relationship to cancer prevention? That just a cup has more than 120% of your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C? (Hello? Flu season?) That they will last forever in your refrigerator bin, meaning less of your grocery dollars down the drain due to food spoilage and waste?
If you’ve always sidestepped Brussels sprouts, I implore you to reconsider. As was in my case, you may be unconsciously operating off of some unfounded premise based on something you thought you always heard about how foul-tasting they are. Maybe the person who prepared it for you as a child was an inept or unimaginative cook. Or they boiled it to death. Or didn’t use proper seasoning. I don’t know. But give it another try. Today.
And don’t let the possibility of a few post-meal “events” stop you. As long as 90 of us agree not to congregate in a barn or other enclosed space afterwards, we’ve got nothing to fear.
(Though if you’re still worried, crack a window in your house after dinner. It can’t hurt.)
P.S. – Everyone farts. Get over it. Avoiding certain antioxidant-rich foods in a vain attempt to avoid it, is just plain silly. For those still squeamish about the natural workings of the human body, might I recommend the literary masterpiece titled The Gas We Pass. Great as an anatomy teaching tool or bedtime storybook, especially for little boys. Enjoy!