Brussels sprouts are high in the important element of folate. Folate, also known as B9, helps the body make and maintain new cells. You may know folate as folic acid, which is its synthetic form.
Folate is essential for fertility; it helps line a woman’s womb with nutrients that nourish the womb and increase the chance for sperm survival. Research shows that a deficiency of folate during pregnancy has been linked to birth defects – without folate, the fetus’ nervous system cells do not divide properly. Consuming whole foods that are naturally rich in folate can help reduce the risk of miscarriage and birth defects.
Folate is also DNA-protective, which means it can benefit everyone, i.e., not just those who are pregnant or trying to conceive.
But back to the sprouts. When you eat Brussels sprouts, you’re giving your body some powerful phytonutrients that can help optimize estrogen metabolism and support the body’s detoxification process. You’re also ingesting some anti-inflammatory properties, which are good for the body, as inflammation can interfere with many physiological processes, including conception.
Eat Your Sprouts: Shopping and Cooking Tips
- Brussels sprouts are available year-round but the peak-growing season is from autumn through early spring.
- If possible buy sprouts still attached to the stalk for optimal freshness.
- Brussels sprouts should be firm, compact and vivid green. Avoid those with holes in their leaves or you may find insects crawling inside the sprout.
- To prepare sprouts, remove stems and leaves; wash well under fresh water and soak in a bowl to remove any debris that may be stuck within the ball.
- However you choose to cook sprouts, cut an X shape into the bottom for even heating throughout.
How to Cook Them
Before you frown at the thought of biting into a bitter Brussels sprout, try these exquisitely seasoned sprouts. Seasoned with aromatic Harissa Spice Blend and coconut oil, these roasted sprouts are a mouth-watering surprise with almost caramelized bottoms and crispy on-the-outside, tender on-the-inside texture. Don’t miss the alternative ways to season and/or dip them!
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved, outer leaves removed (6 cups prepped)
2 tablespoons organic sunflower oil
1 tablespoon organic olive oil
1 teaspoon dry Harissa spice blend (paprika, caraway, chili pepper, cayenne pepper, coriander, cumin, garlic, peppermint, sea salt)
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- With a paring knife, trim off the ends of the sprouts and slice in half lengthwise. Remove any loose outer leaves. Place the prepped sprouts into a large bowl.
- Add the sunflower oil onto the sprouts in the bowl and stir or toss with hands until thoroughly coated. Add the Harissa spice and salt. Stir until combined.
- Spread the Brussels sprouts onto the prepared baking sheet in a uniform layer. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper.
- Roast the sprouts for 20 minutes, then flip with spatula, and continue roasting for another 5-15 minutes until browned to your liking. If you prefer very crisp sprouts, you can “overcook” these until very brown, but not blackened. Smaller sprouts will brown faster than larger ones.
- Drizzle with olive oil and quickly toss to coat. This infuses with flavor and moistens them a bit after roasting. Sprinkle on toasted sesame seeds if you have some on hand. Taste and add another tiny pinch of salt, if desired, and serve immediately – the hotter the better.
Seasoning and Dipping Alternatives for Crispy Sprouts
- Drizzle with pomegranate molasses or balsamic reduction with pomegranate arils (very festive!) – you can skip the Harissa seasoning here.
- Garlic infused – try minced garlic cloves, garlic-infused oil, garlic salt
- Teriyaki sauce – pairs well with sesame seeds
- Barbecue sauce (sprinkled on or used for dipping)
- Coconut curry sauce or your favorite curry powder
- Sriracha or other hot sauce
- Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (or flavor of your choice)
- Ground toasted nuts or seeds like pecans or sesame seeds.