We can teach our children to choose to eat broccoli instead of chocolate candy. Children can be taught to choose healthy foods. We can not push them, or cajole them into healthy eating habits, we have to show them how much fun eating healthy can be. We can also describe the health benefit to our children. Children are more sophisticated than we sometimes give them credit for.
The truth is that what we like to eat is shaped by both biology and experience, states Dr. Mennella, Ph.D., a scientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. The summary of her view on eating preferences is that everyone prefers foods that taste sweet and we do not like bitter taste.
Sweetness reminds us of the comfort of mother’s breast milk. Our ancestors received energy from foods that were sweet. Bitter foods, we relate to toxins. For our ancestors, bitterness was a signal that a plant was not consumable. This aversion helped our ancestors survive.
But some bitter foods are good for us. Brussels sprouts is a good example. Brussel sprouts contain glucosinolates that help the liver disarm chemicals known to have cancer-inducing potential in the body. Studies that examined the effects of glucosinolates on DNA proved that extracts from brussels sprouts have the ability to help protect DNA from damage.
The benefits of this vegetable cannot be ignored. Getting kids to try it may not be easy. Research shows that it takes as many as 10-15 tastes before a child will learn to appreciate a new flavor.
So for those parents who have the fortitude to introduce a rather bitter taste to the dinner table, brussel sprouts is the perfect choice. Explain the benefits of this vegetable dish to your family. They will appreciate the information and may be less resistant to trying a new flavor.
As a subtle bribe for trying this dish prepare a delicious strawberry shortcake with whipped cream for dessert.
Brussels sprouts should never be over cooked. Leave them a little crunchy. When cooked correctly, brussels sprouts have a wonderfully nutty flavor. Try them with rice, a little garlic and butter.
Recipe for the Best Brussel Sprouts
*1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts
*4-6 tbsp. of butter
*1/2 onion, chopped
*Salt and Pepper
*1 tsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
*1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
1. Steam Brussels sprouts for 3-4 minutes until just tender.
(Split one open to see if it is cooked to the middle)
2. Strain and place in a bowl of ice water to keep the color bright green.
3. Cut into halves.
4. Sauté onions in 2-3 tbsp. of olive oil in a wide sauté pan until the onions are translucent.
5. Add the Brussels sprout halves and 2-3 tbsp. more butter.
6. Cook on medium high heat for several more minutes, until the sprouts are tender.
7. Add salt and pepper while the sprouts are cooking.
*Whatever you do, do not over-cook. The sprouts will be bitter.
8. Remove from heat, toss in half of the toasted slivered almonds and the lemon juice.
9. Add salt and pepper if needed.
10. Put into serving dish and garnish with the rest of the toasted almonds.
11. Do a taste test. Add a little salt if appropriate and enjoy.
Brussels sprouts are so nutritious that it is worth it to at least have your children try them.
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