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Roasted Brussels Sprout Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

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brussels sprouts are the best!

Brussels sprouts are the BESSSSSST!

Not your initial reaction when reading the title of this post? I can’t say I blame you. This diminutive cabbage is the object of childhood nightmares, up there with the Boogey Man and the Quadratic Equation. To be honest, I didn’t try my first brussels until a few years ago. I remember being told that they “taste like boogers…literally.” How this person knew what boogers tasted like, I’ll never know. But that cemented in my mind that I would NEVER eat brussels sprouts.

Roasted Brussels sprout salad with Dijon vinaigrette

So what changed my mind? This salad, of course! I think Dijon can make anything tasty, and here it really complements the warm, slightly crispy Brussels sprouts. The sweetness from the grapes, the bite of the onion, and the full flavor that comes from roasting nuts come together to make one of the best salads I’ve ever had. Sometimes you hear “salad” and fall asleep standing up because they can be so boring, but I’m telling you, give this one a try. You won’t regret it. And if your inner child balks at the idea of eating a Brussels sprout, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts are members of the Brassica family, which includes other nutritional powerhouses like kale, broccoli, and cabbage. The Brassica family is known for having some smelly members, which is due to the release of a sulfur compound in the cooking process. Over-cooking your Brussels sprouts will bring out this strong taste and smell, so be careful! Steaming and stir frying are sure-fire ways to retain the most nutrients and not overcook your sprouts, although I haven’t experienced any adverse smells when I’ve roasted them.

roasted Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts and other Brassica members have been heralded for their health benefits. Of course, like most things green, they are high in vitamins and minerals, specifically vitamins C, B6, and K, folate, thiamin, potassium, and copper. Also like all things green, they are low in calories and high in fiber. Cruciferous vegetables are thought to have cancer-fighting properties due to the high levels of phytochemicals, specificially isothiocyanates, which act as detoxifiers. As with most diet-related claims, more research and more powerful studies are needed; however we do know that a mostly plant-based diet rich in varied fruits and vegetables is associated with lower cancer risks. So go ahead, add this Brussels sprout salad into your meal rotation. It’s just another example of how delicious healthy eating can be.

Roasted Brussels sprout salad with Dijon vinaigrette

Ingredients (serves 4)

Salad

  • 20 brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups spinach or arugula
  • 3/4 cup seedless red grapes, cut in half
  • ½ cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Dijon Vinaigrette

  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 450. Remove any discolored leaves and trim the Brussels sprouts by cutting off the hard base, and then cut in half. Some leaves may fall off, that’s ok. You can still roast the loose leaves, but keep an eye on them as they will crisp up faster. Toss the halves with the olive oil and roast, turning halfway through, for 15-18 minutes or until browned. I like some burnt pieces, but roast them until you reach your desired level of doneness.

While the Brussels sprouts are roasting, prepare your other salad ingredients. I like to toast walnuts in a skillet on med-low, but be careful here as they can burn quickly (it’s happened to me on more than one occasion). When the Brussels sprouts and walnuts are finished, set them aside to cool. Once cool, combine all salad ingredients.

Whisk the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and toss with the salad.

Nutrition Facts

  • 240 calories
  • 7 g protein
  • 19 g carbohydrate
  • 4 g fiber
  • 17 g fat (9 g monounsaturated, 5 g polyunsaturated)
  • 118 mg sodium

Eggsalad Easter

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The hunt is over. You pat yourself on the back because you just found 25 spectacularly colored hard-boiled eggs! What a champ! So you neatly display them like a trophy in your fridge so that every time you open the door you see beautiful colors splattered across an eggshell canvas. Who would want to eat such beautiful works of art? But finally, if you’re like me, a couple days pass and you begin to get hungry and brainstorm ways to use all these eggs. My search led to a few tasty and creative ideas; but first, let’s spend a little time talking about the nutrition that makes these eggs so golden.

Eggs are kind of a big deal. They are cheap, delicious, and packed with essential vitamins and minerals. This goodness is found in both the yolk and the whites, so eat it all up, people! Research shows that eating whole eggs actually increases HDL cholesterol (the good guy who prevents cardiovascular disease) and a growing number of studies show that dietary cholesterol does not impact blood level of cholesterol.

The yolk contains one of the richest dietary sources of choline, which helps with inflammation and neurological function. Lutein and zeaxanthin fight for your vision while sulfur aids in Vitamin B absorption, liver function, and the growth of hair, nails, and skin. Let’s not leave the whites out, though. The whites are a great protein source and top-notch quality as the essential amino acids are easy to digest.

And there you have it: nutrition in an eggshell!

Enough with the nutrition lesson, let’s get cookin’! Here are some eggcellent ways to use up hard-boiled eggs:

  1. Scotch Eggs
  1. On top of Wedge Salad
  1. Garam Masala Deviled Eggs
  1. In a Breakfast Burrito
  1. Smoked Salmon and Egg Canapes
  1. Campanelle Salad
  1. English Muffin Egg Pizzas
  1. Pan Bagnat
  2. Salad Niçoise Lettuce Cups
  3. Eggs Mimosa

 

Food safety tip: hard-boiled eggs kept in the fridge should be eaten within one week and keep the shell on until you are ready to use them.

 

Carb Hating

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As Cassie recently analyzed our love/desire/obsession with protein, I figured it’d be a good time to address a major food discrimination I’ve seen creeping on our plates. I call it Carb Hating and it’s very real. Like most hatred, it comes from a misguided and often uninformed place. A place where bagels are evil and whole grains taste like cardboard.

Now, I’m not saying that Carb Haters are wrong. Or prejudice. Or, um, narrow-minded. They have evidence to support their hate. After all, research has shown that carbohydrates are major culprits in diabetes, heart disease, and organized crime. But maybe if you got to know the carbs you’d see that they can actually be quite diverse, nutritious and really fun to drink on a Friday night.

Carbohydrates are foods that break down into sugars (glucose, fructose, galactose). On average, they account for 65% of our daily caloric intake and are our bodies go to nutrient for energy. They are necessary to keep energy levels high and muscles intact. They are also crucial for brain health, as the main nutrient our central nervous system uses for fuel.

Carbohydrates often come paired with some really fun nutrients such as fiber, b-vitamins, and minerals. They can (contrary to popular wisdom) help us lose weight by increasing satiety and digestive health.

However, popular diet trends do not always agree. And lately, many have started to view carbohydrates as an unnecessary food group that we’re just too weak to resist, rather than an essential nutrient necessary for survival. This became apparent to me during a recent conversation with a health conscious friend:

 

Well-informed male fried: “Oh you’re a nutritionist, that’s cool”

Me: “Yeah, definitely. Thanks”

Well-informed male friend: “My main goal right now is to eliminate carbohydrates from my diet entirely”

Me: “Don’t do that. You’ll die.”

 

Lucky for those trying to kill themselves through carbohydrate deficiency, it’s nearly impossible to do. They are in everything. Milk, grains, fruit, sweets, yogurt, nuts, beans, legumes, beer, Klondike bars. Total elimination would take a combination self discipline and insanity only seen in someone like this (had to steal it Cass):

arnold1

Most Americans have experienced Carb Hating simply by trying a low carb diet. Going low carb can result in dramatic initial weight loss. However, the mechanism behind the effect is not magic. These diets work by either initiating ketogenesis – which can be harmful if sustained. Or by the reduction in calories that naturally occurs when you take out a food group that accounted for 65% of your intake. They can be a good fit for some people. But as anyone who has come off the Atkins diet knows, they’re difficult to sustain.

My recommendation? Don’t eliminate carbs. Just watch the type and amount you eat. Fruit, whole grains, beans and legumes are rich in dietary fiber and digested slowly, reducing glucose spikes that can lead to type II diabetes. Eat them in combination with other foods to help slow digestion and absorption. Eat a cookie every once and a while because, what is life without cookies? Love the food you eat and take everything in moderation 🙂

Now ask yourself: Are you a Carb Hater?