By Diane Giuliani, HHC
You’ve most likely been eating your crucifers since you were a child and didn’t even know it! Cruciferous vegetables, a botanical family with the Latin name of Cruciferae or Brassicaceae, include many shapes, colors and sizes of vegetables. It’s only when these plants go to seed and flower that you see the family resemblance. All of these plants produce a four-petal, cross-like design that gives them their name: crucifer, the Latin word for” cross-bearer”.
The list of players in this group of health promoting veggies is lengthy but few of the most common ones that you’ll be familiar with are: cabbage – in all its varieties, bok choy, collard greens, mustard greens, rutabaga, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kolrabi, turnips, kale, horseradish, radishes and arugula. All of these vegetables contain powerful cancer-kicking substances such as sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinols, which makes them deserving of a key role in your diet!! They help prevent precancerous cells from becoming malignant and they inhibit the development of blood vessel systems that support tumor growth and survival. I attempt to include these vegetables into at least two of my daily meals, but if I can make it three meals a day ….. then I’ve definitely Got My Crucifers On!!
To get the most nutritional benefit from these vegetables, you can eat them raw or cooked. If you choose to eat them cooked, definitely avoid overcooking them. I’m sure most of us have had the experience of mushy overcooked broccoli ~ Blaaahk! Instead, try giving them a short steam or a super-quick dip in boiling water to help preserve their crispness, vibrant green color, their incredible array of nutrients. I like to first bring my steaming water to a boil before I drop in the basket of veggies. This way I can better track the length of cooking time. For example: broccoli only takes 5 minutes to steam to perfection, so I recommend using a timer. Stir-frying is also a good choice for any of the crucifers or they can be served solo with your favorite herbs and seasonings.
This month I’ve included a recipe for a raw Cauliflower Paté. It was inspired by friend Mary Beauchamp and it’s delicious served with sliced raw veggies or your favorite whole grain cracker. I made this one time for a group of friends and I asked them to try to guess what the base of the dip was. No one could figure out that it was cauliflower! It’s super simple to make provided you have access to a food processor. Have fun with it and get your friends guessing too!
This dip will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days and is a super healthy low glycemic pick–me-up snack when you don’t have the energy to prepare much else. Slice some cucumbers, celery, daikon radish and carrots and you’re set!
½ head organic cauliflower, cut into chunks
½ tsp. ground cumin
¾ tsp. curry powder
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
1-2 tsp. Ume Plum Vinegar* or lemon juice, or to taste
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
Place all ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth. I’ve found that the mixture does not get creamy like a hummus dip so continued processing won’t achieve that consistency. If the mixture seems dry, add a bit more olive oil. You may also want to add more cumin, curry powder, salt and pepper. Flavor it to your liking.
Serve with fresh vegetables or whole grain crackers.
*Note: Ume Plum Vinegar can be found in most health food stores. It is quite salty so make sure you taste the paté first before adding salt. Ume vinegar is also good sprinkled on freshly steamed vegetables or on vegetable wraps made with nori seaweed or whole grain tortillas.