Brassicas - a most beautiful family of vegetables

Now is the time to eat your seasonal winter greens and I was considering the cauliflower the other day. I decided that a cauliflower is a beautiful thing. The way it's put together really is quite marvellous. Puffs of cloudy white florets, many symmetrically formed into a brain-like structures of little trees, all encased in a hand shaped green shell of equally nutritious stems and leaves. But I digress... The cauliflower is one of the brassica family, which also includes broccoli, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, Savoy cabbage, kohlrabi. So what's so great about the brassicas?

These super greens are particularly high in vitamins A (immune system, vision, healthy skin), C (healing, healthy skin, blood vessels and bones) and E (immune system, healthy skin and vision). They are also high in folate (B9) which is essential for the formation of red blood cells and healthy vascular, and potassium, which plays a huge part in sending all those electrical signals around body which get stuff done. Calcium is also a surprisingly high constituent of brassica vegetables which makes them a very good choice for vegans who won't be getting their calcium from dairy.

If that wasn't enough to encourage you to make them a regular part of your diet, they are also high antioxidants which means they help us prevent degenerative diseases. Brassicas also contain plenty of fibre - good for our gut health, which impacts our digestion, our immune system and our mental well-being.

So eat more of these green, curly or tree-like beauties, and you will be doing your body a real favour.

As with most vegetables, the more lightly they are cooked the better, to retain as many of the nutrients as possible, and since vitamin C is water soluble, steaming is always recommended if possible.

My recipe Pan fried cauliflower with kale uses two of these important vegetables. You can also revert to that classic favourite cauliflower cheese and add some broccoli as well. Large cabbage leaves make great wraps for mince or grains & vegetables then steamed in the oven and Brussels sprouts should never be reserved only for Christmas!

If you'd like to read more about how Brassicas affect the health of your body, this is an excellent piece of research.

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