Welcome to Day 3 of our ‘Kick Start 2022 Plant-Based Challenge’
By now, you should be getting used to what it feels like to be more hydrated and, hopefully, you’ve begun eating more leafy greens, too. Let’s keep a good thing going!
Today’s topic is cruciferous vegetables.
They’re called that because they have four-petaled flowers that resemble a cross or “crucifer.” Cabbage is the best-known member of this family, but other cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, arugula, cauliflower, kale, mustard greens, turnips, cress, and collards. You may recognize some of these as leafy greens. That’s because SOME crucifers are also leafy greens, just like SOME leafy greens are also cruciferous veggies.
But whether leafy and green or not, cruciferous vegetables could easily be the royalty of the plant-based food world.
Today, you’re going to discover the benefits of these high-fibre, high-water, high-phytonutrient superstars, and how they can promote detoxification and better health.
The Benefits of Being a Super Veggie
All veggies are good for you, but cruciferous vegetables just might be the best of all. For one thing, they’re high in both soluble and insoluble fibre. Insoluble fibre adds bulk to your stool (known as roughage) and helps sweep out the digestive tract to keep everything moving. Soluble fibre, which both absorbs and is dissolved by water (another reason to hydrate well), feeds the health-promoting bacteria in your gut that are responsible for everything from immune function, to mood, to metabolism.
Just 100 calories worth of cruciferous vegetables provides about 25–40% of your daily fibre requirement.
Additionally, cruciferous veggies hold a lot of water. For example, raw broccoli is almost 90% water!
Not only does this high water content help to dissolve and move all that fibre through your digestive tract, but it also hydrates your body and helps you feel fuller longer. Feeling full, in turn, can help with weight loss.
These vegetables contain powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds and are particularly high in vitamin C.
100 grams of orange slices provide 52 milligrams of vitamin C, the same weight of broccoli contains a whopping 89 milligrams.
Sulforaphane: One of the most exciting and unique things about cruciferous veggies is that they help your body produce the incredible cancer-fighting compound sulforaphane. If there were an Oscar for the most potent anti-cancer and brain-boosting nutrient on the planet, sulforaphane would have an entire display case full of the golden statues.
For chemistry fans, here’s an explanation of how cruciferous veggies work their magic: They contain glucosinolates and an enzyme called myrosinase. When we blend, chop, or chew these vegetables, we break up the plant cells, allowing the myrosinase to come into contact with glucosinolates. This initiates a chemical reaction that produces sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has been shown to detoxify and remove carcinogens, and to stimulate a process called apoptosis in which cancer cells self-destruct. Studies show that it could also be good for fighting inflammation and preventing Alzheimer’s.
TODAY’S ACTION: Eat cruciferous veggies.
Roasted Broccoli with Turmeric and Cumin
½ cup chickpea brine (drained from a 15-ounce can of chickpeas [or vegetable broth])
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
¼ tsp black pepper
1 large broccoli head (halved, cored, and cut into 1-inch florets)
¼ cup pistachios (shelled & crushed, or sunflower seeds)
¼ cup of pine nuts
¼ cup cilantro or celery(chopped)
¼ tsp sea salt (optional)
1, Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2, Spread out broccoli florets evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
3, In a small bowl, combine chickpea brine or vegetable broth, cumin, turmeric, crushed red pepper, and pepper.
4, Drizzle the broccoli with the spiced mixture. Use a pastry brush to fully coat the broccoli.
5, Lightly sprinkle additional pepper on the broccoli while it’s evenly spread out on the baking sheet.
6, Bake for 45 minutes until golden and tender.
7, While the broccoli is baking, spread the pistachios and pine nuts in a pie plate and bake in the oven for 2 minutes.
8, Once the broccoli is finished baking, transfer to a bowl, sprinkle with pistachios, pine nuts, celery or cilantro, and salt, if using.
Substitutions and additions
Don’t love cilantro? Sprinkle with parsley or mint for extra flavour and nutrition.
If you enjoy a smoky flavour, sprinkle with smoked paprika before baking.
These are also delicious when dipped in your favourite vegan dressing like a cashew or tahini ranch.
Research by Food Revolution Network