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Once upon a time, Brussels sprouts were essentially universally hated.
Kids told to “Eat their brussels sprouts” would twist up their faces and pout. Adults viewed them as bland and tasteless, and virtual mountains of them went un-purchased in grocery stores everywhere.
Today, though, the times are changing.
In the last several years, Brussels sprouts have become increasingly popular among both chefs and consumers. In fact, Google Trends information dating from 2004 to present show a rise in popularity for the term.
So, what’s behind this Brussels sprouts attitude shift, and what have people learned about the health benefits of Brussels sprouts?
Here’s what you need to know.
Are Brussels Sprouts Trending?
Often, the sudden increased popularity of a food has to do with culinary trends. As restaurants catch on to an ingredient and start incorporating it into their dishes, once exotic or overlooked items (think turmeric, pea milk, and tahini, for example) begin to explode onto the radar of consumers.
Brussels sprouts are one such item.
Ever since they became a must-have for Hollywood TV chefs and cooks in some of America’s most high-end restaurants, consumers have caught on. Today, home chefs want to try Brussels sprouts-centric recipes on their own, and they’ve become increasingly curious about the adventurous and flexible nature of Brussels sprouts.
Thanks to their dense, sweet, nutty flavor, Brussels sprouts have dozens of different menu applications Ideal for use as a side dish or main ingredient, the Brussels sprout is a winter vegetable that works well with full-flavored entrees and meats, although it’s too densely flavored to partner well with chicken or fish.
Don’t sell the Brussels sprout short as just a dinner food, though: it also works well on breakfast plates and is flavorful and durable enough to provide a healthy green pop in a bacon and egg scramble or to be roasted up alongside potatoes in a hash.
What Brussels Sprouts Growers Have Seen
Companies that produce Brussels sprouts can corroborate the fact that the veggie is indeed trending, and that the trend began in restaurants. In recent years, major growers of Brussels sprouts around the country have taken steps to support increased sales. These steps include upgrading packaging, offering more package sizes, and ensuring the produce continues to pop on the shelves.
In many cases, Brussels sprouts manufacturers are also adding information and recipes to the backs and sides of Brussels sprouts packaging, further enabling home chefs to use the veggie to its fullest potential.
The Health Benefits of Brussels Sprouts
Beyond being trendy, Brussels sprouts are also chock-full of health benefits home chefs and professional cooks alike can’t help but overlook. Here are some of their biggest perks:
· Steamed brussels sprouts can help lower cholesterol
· Brussels sprouts have more glucosinolate than mustard greens, turnip greens, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, or broccoli
· Compared to other green veggies, Brussels sprouts are high in protein
· Brussels sprouts offer eye- and bone-protective nutrients
· Brussels sprouts are high in chlorophyll, which can block cancerous cells and decrease cancer risk
· Brussels sprouts are high in Vitamin K and calcium
How to Use Brussels Sprouts
While Brussels sprouts used to only come out at Thanksgiving and Christmas, home cooks and restaurants alike have found a whole host of new ways to cook, consume, and present them.
One of the most unique is the “stalk” format. Brussels sprouts grow on a vertical stalk, with each sprout budding off the side of the stalk. Traditionally, chefs remove the sprouts from the stalk and cook them as individual items.
Recently, however, cooks have begun to leave the sprouts attached to the stalk and roast them that way. This offers a beautiful presentation and can serve as a nice center-piece on a holiday (or every night) table.
Brussels sprouts also make a great cooking vegetable, where they can be paired with other durable veggies, bacon, and spices for a delicious and filling side offering.
The Future of Brussels Sprouts is Bright
If its recent rise in popularity is any indicator, it seems like the Brussels sprout is designed to enjoy a place in the culinary spotlight for the coming years. Nutritious, easy to cook, access, and prepare, and ideal for pairing with a variety of savory dishes, Brussels sprouts have quickly become one of the best-loved vegetables on American tables.