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Excerpted from a Judy E. Buss article, first published in the Sun Coast Media Group Newspapers. 


                                                                            Mission Nutrition:



One of the folk traditions around the world on New Year’s Day is eating cabbage for good luck. There are compelling reasons though, for consuming cabbage and any of its relatives all year round. The name “cruciferous” stems from the cross-like shape of the four-petaled flowers of these vegetables’ plants. They are also referred to as the mustard family or Brassica, “Cole crops” in Latin. Members of this family include: arugula, broccoli, collard greens, kale, horseradish, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, rutabaga, radish, turnip, cauliflower, wasabi, kohlrabi, watercress, and mustard.

Few foods can compete with cruciferous vegetables for their nutritional value. They offer a high concentration of vitamin A, C, K, all the B vitamins, as well as powerful antioxidants such as beta carotene and lutein. They are also rich in potassium, manganese, and fiber. Cruciferous veggies are champion cancer fighters containing glucosinolates, a group of natural compounds which aid in detoxifying a wide variety of cancer-causing toxins before they assault healthy cells.

Caution should be exercised, however, by people suffering from an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). Cruciferous vegetables contain substances which interfere with the manufacture of thyroid hormones in the body. Such individuals should eat these veggies no more than 1 – 2 times per week, and mostly cooked. Cooking destroys the thyroid suppressant (goiterogens) activity. Everyone else, in order to fully benefit from these health-boosting nutritional celebrities, should eat them both cooked and raw.

The best cooking methods are to briefly sauté or steam the vegetables. Cruciferous veggies present an enormous variety of culinary possibilities when all parts of the plants are used: flowers (as in broccoli and cauliflower), stems, seeds, roots (such as turnip roots, and rutabaga), and leaves. Some steaming suggestions: peel, halve, and sprinkle turnip roots with pepper and steam 12 – 15 minutes; or peel and cube a rutabaga and steam 20 minutes, then drizzle with olive oil; lightly sprinkle cauliflower florets and chopped stalks with ground nutmeg and steam 15 minutes; Brussels sprouts can be steamed whole, or halved and sautéed with olive oil, chopped garlic, and an herb, and mixed with cooked grain or pasta, etc.

When making one of coleslaw’s numerous versions, drowning the salad in a truckload of mayonnaise is unhealthy and unsavory. A better tasting and healthier dressing is a vinaigrette, made from olive oil, wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and an herb. Or, make an Oriental dressing adding soy sauce.

Sauerkraut, kimchi, and other fermented veggies play a special role in a healthy diet. They are known to promote good digestion by beefing up the all-important intestinal flora, necessary for proper digestion and nutrient absorption.

Improve your health luck: pay lip service to cruciferous vegetables…  Here are some recipes of delicious and easy-to-make dishes for you to try – enjoy!

The recipes below can be doubled, or otherwise multiplied, as needed:


 2 servings

3 cups finely shredded green cabbage
1 green onion, thinly sliced, including its white part
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons wine vinegar or lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cloves garlic, finely grated
½ teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
½ teaspoon honey

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients.

2. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.



2 servings

4 cups broccoli florets
3 thin slices red onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup roasted sunflower seeds
½ cup coarsely grated smoked gruyere cheese
2 tablespoons sweetened dried cranberries
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ tablespoon dried tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Steam the broccoli about 10 minutes, until crisp-tender. Promptly rinse under a gentle stream of cold water for 5 seconds to halt the cooking process. Drain, and to let cool spread on a large plate.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix all the dressing ingredients. Add the onion, walnuts, cheese, and cranberries.

3. Chop the steamed broccoli fine and add to the bowl. Gently mix well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap to seal, and refrigerate for one hour before serving.

VARIATIONS:  Omit the cranberries and add finely grated garlic; omit the cranberries and add a few halved cherry tomatoes and finely grated garlic; omit the cheese and add one thick slice of deli smoked turkey, chopped.

Keep the doctor away – deliciously!

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Judy E. Buss,


Syndicated Food Columnist, Nutritional Cooking Instructor, Speaker, Blogger, and Freelance Writer