Food Facts

Cook With Brussels Sprouts: Nutrition, Tips & Silly Food Facts

Your first question may be about spelling: is there supposed to be an “s” at the end of Brussels? Technically, yes, although “Brussels sprouts” is also commonly used. Second question: should Brussels be capitalized? Again, yes, since this vegetable originated in Brussels, Belgium, as early as the 1200s. Third question: are these cute veggies related to cabbage? Absolutely! They look like miniature cabbages and are part of the family that includes cabbage and broccoli.

Brussels sprouts, with their fresh, nutty taste, are super healthy! They contain lots of vitamins C and K, boosting the immune system and aiding blood function. They are also a good source of folic acid, vitamin A, fiber, and iron. As if all this isn’t enough, Brussels sprouts contain a substance called sinigrin, which researchers are finding can protect against colon cancer.

Plan on a long growing season with Brussels sprouts—patience is required! Sprouts planted in April may not be fully harvested until October. With this unique plant, it’s fun to watch how the knobby sprouts cling to tall, sturdy stalks. They grow best with full sun, steady moisture, and a cool climate. Start harvesting from the bottom of the stem when the Brussels sprouts are the size of a ping pong ball. Upper sprouts will continue to develop for later harvesting.

Watch how to grow brussels sprouts

Just the sprouts—not the stalk—is what you eat from the Brussels sprouts plant. But sprouts stay fresher if they stay attached to the stalk as long as possible. In the grocery store, choose tight, firm heads that are bright green. Avoid any Brussels sprouts with black spots or a strong odor. Refrigerate in a perforated plastic bag; wait to wash until right before using. Boiling Brussels sprouts should be your last choice—nothing is worse than soggy, tasteless sprouts with many of the nutrients lost. Bake, roast, or sauté instead!

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