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Family Matters – April 2016   arrow

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Big Food Trends ….Oh yes, Cauliflower & Brussel Sprouts

Anne Zander, CSU Extension Boulder County

One of the best ways to keep your meals exciting without getting off track is to have fun with vegetables. High in fiber and low in calories, vegetables are the ultimate companions to any meal or snack. Now, let’s try something besides “boring” vegetables. How about steamed, grilled, microwaved, sautéed, or especially roasted?

Roasting your veggies gives them a slightly sweet taste that can melt the hearts of the “stone cold veggie haters”. Roasting can even turn bitter Brussel sprouts into caramelized yumminess.

The latest roasted veggie obsession is Cauliflower “Popcorn”. Enjoy these tasty little florets as a sweet snack or a savory side dish. Try to vary the seasoning from cinnamon to Parmesan cheese, to chili powder, depending on your mood. Cauliflower’s flavor is very neutral, so you can get creative!

Califlower Steak Slices

Cauliflower has numerous health benefits including being a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. When buying cauliflower, look for a solid/compact head with clean florets/curds. Ignore small green leaflets extending through the head. If leaves are attached, a good green color is a sign of freshness. Avoid loose heads; it is a sign of aging or over maturity. Avoid wilted or soft heads with many discolored spots on the curd. Spots or speckles on the curd, is a sign of insect injury, mold growth or decay. Keep fresh cauliflower in your refrigerator’s vegetable crisper for 1 week or freeze for 8-12 months. Remove leaves and cut off the stalk. Cut and separate into florets or slice through the entire head to get cauliflower steaks!

Brussel sprouts are good sources of vitamins A, B, C, and K, niacin, iron and calcium. When buying Brussel sprouts look for firm, compact heads that have bright green leaves. Avoid yellow, soft or loose leaves. Small holes and ragged edges may be a sign of insect damage and should be avoided. Store in the refrigerator 3-5 days or freeze for 8-12 months. Remove lose or discolored leaves. Cut off stem ends, careful to leave head intact, or cut any large sprouts in half before cooking.

Let’s Talk:

As a family, set a goal to try and eat more vegetables. Ask your children to suggest one or two new vegetables to try each week at meals or snacks and then make a chart. At the end of a 2 month period see how many new vegetables your family has tried.

Chart Example:

Food log

Consider trying some of these vegetables: Asparagus, Brussel sprouts, Butternut squash, Cabbage (green/purple), Cauliflower (white/yellow/green/purple), Celeriac, Chickpeas, Collard greens, Daikon radish, Edamame, Eggplant, Endive, Fennel, Ginger, Green onions, Herbs, Jerusalem artichoke, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leafy greens, Potatoes (all the colors/sizes), Pumpkin, Radishes, Radicchio, Snow peas, Swiss chard, Tomatillo, Tomatoes (all colors), Turnips, etc.

roasted brussel sprouts

Recipe for Health:

Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Makes 4 servings

1 pound Brussel sprouts
2 Tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
½ teaspoon salt (optional)
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400° F. Wash, trim and cut in half. Toss sprouts with oil, salt and pepper. Put on foil lined baking sheet. Roast in oven for 30-40 minutes, turning 2-3 times, or until golden brown on the outside and tender inside.

Optional: Add one or more of these ingredients during the last 5 minutes of roasting: Parmesan cheese, chopped nuts (almonds, pecans, etc.) cran-raisins, or 1-2 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar.

cauliflower popcorn
Cauliflower “Popcorn”
Makes 4 servings
Each serving: 70 calories | 5g fat | 4g carbs | 2g protein

1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil

Potential seasonings:
Cinnamon & sweetener of choice
Parmesan cheese
Sea salt (optional)
Chili powder & Cumin


  1. Heat oven to 425° F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cauliflower, seasoning and oil. Make sure each piece is coated.
  3. Transfer to a baking sheet and spread in a single layer. Roast in oven for 18-20 minutes. Stir every five minutes to ensure the cauliflower is getting browned on all sides

Resource: SNAP/EFNEP recipe