Brassica vegetables are some of the hardiest crops out there, able to tolerate cold temperatures and grow throughout the winter months. Examples of brassica vegetables include cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, bok choy, turnips, and collards. Also known as cruciferous vegetables, brassica vegetables are part of the mustard family. They are a diverse group of vegetables taken from different parts of the plant, i.e. leaves, stalks, stems, flowers, roots, and seeds.
In terms of nutritional content, brassica vegetables are powerhouses of nutrients and antioxidants, including vitamins A, C, K, and fiber. Several research studies suggest that diets high in brassica vegetables play a role in cancer prevention, possibly due to sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates. The brassica vegetables are ideal for both the season of winter and the Winter body type. They tend to have a neutral or warming thermal nature, as classified by Traditional Chinese Medicine, and can help to increase yang and build qi energy.
To prepare brassica vegetables, consider lightly steaming or stir-frying them to retain more of their beneficial compounds and vitamins. Kale leaves can be lightly spritzed with oil and baked in the oven to make crispy kale chips, a popular snack. Some of the heartier vegetables lend themselves well to long cooking times on low heat (e.g. braised cabbage, simmered collard greens, or adding turnips to stews). Broccoli and cauliflower can be roasted in the oven to bring out their natural sweetness, or simmered and puréed into velvety soups. With a wide range of nutrients, flavors, textures, and uses, brassica vegetables can be featured in any winter dish. They are great for supporting and bolstering health throughout the winter season.
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