When I was growing up, my mom cooked a lot, as a result, my brother and I both learned how to cook, and I cook most of my meals these days. My mom was a pretty good cook in my opinion, and we ate what was (at the time) considered pretty healthy. There were a few foods however which I never really discovered until recently, either because my mom never prepared them or because I refused them as a kid. Below are a few foods I’ve rediscovered in my adulthood, a few of their health benefits, and a favorite way to make them.
I can’t remember my mother ever making us Brussels sprouts. As a kid Brussels sprouts always had this terrible rap and I think it’s because so many people make them wrong. They boil the crap out of them and not only are they mushy and gross but they also lose almost all of their nutritional value. I’ve rediscovered them recently and have been enjoying them thoroughly.
- Health benefits – If you have been following current nutrition trends you’ve probably heard people recommend you get you dark leafy greens. Brussels Sprouts fall into this category. Dark leafy greens are considered the healthiest vegetables on the market and are known for reducing risks of cancer, lowering rates of cognitive decline, assisting in the repair of DNA cells, and being high in vitamin K (helps blood clotting).
- Favorite way to prep – Preheat the oven to 450. I heat a smoked grape seed oil in a large cast iron skillet with some garlic (minced or smashed). Once the oil is very hot I dump in the quartered Brussels sprouts, stir them around every few minutes until they start to brown. Then I toss the whole pan in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Pop them out and eat them as a side with dinner. If you don’t want to go the vegan rout another option is to fry up some bacon in a pan. When you remove the bacon use the grease to fry up the sprouts the same way I mentioned above. Crumble the bacon and add it back to the pan before you throw everything in the oven. Maybe not as healthy, but pretty damn good.
I also never remember having beets as a kid, but if you’re an endurance athlete you’ve probably seen beets all over the place in nutritional write ups.
- Health Benefits – Our bodies convert the nitrates in beets into nitric oxide. Aside from helping to prevent heart disease beets provide a huge boost in athletic ability. This improvement in athletic performance stems from mitochondrial efficiency which improves human energy production. Check out Dr. Greger’s video on the issue.
- Favorite way to prep – Beets are a regular on the salad bar at any Whole Foods I have been in, and if you top off a nice green salad with raw shredded beets the vitamin C from the greens helps absorption of the ever important nitric oxide. They are also a great addition to any smoothie, but be warned they will turn anything they touch red and if you consume enough they come out the same color they went in (kind of startling).