ANNABEL LANGBEIN

A fam­ily of veges can give yours a power boost in the run-up to spring

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CONTENTS -

Win­ter cru­cifers

Back around 440 BC, Hip­pocrates, the great Greek physi­cian, is thought to have come up with the line “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”. Swap the thy for ‘your’ and you have a tenet we are now re­al­is­ing truly does stand the test of time, es­pe­cially when you look at the lat­est ini­tia­tives on im­prov­ing hu­man nu­tri­tion.

Around the US, in­stead of just pre­scrib­ing stan­dard med­i­ca­tions, doc­tors have now re­alised the im­por­tance of teach­ing their pa­tients how to cook, and are pre­scrib­ing culi­nary ed­u­ca­tion pro­grammes in the hopes of im­prov­ing nu­tri­tion and over­all health. Some med­i­cal schools have even in­tro­duced culi­nary cur­ricu­lums to train more doc­tors to talk to pa­tients about food and good nu­tri­tion.

With­out hav­ing to en­gage in what is in­creas­ingly be­com­ing a po­lit­i­cal de­bate around food — there is so much to con­sider, in­clud­ing cli­mate change, sus­tain­abil­ity and ethics — there is one group of foods we can all eat and en­joy whether we are ve­gan, pa­leo or raw food­ist, with­out stress or worry, know­ing they will ben­e­fit our health. I’m talk­ing about bras­si­cas, likely to be the health­i­est group of foods on the planet.

The group of veg­eta­bles that make up the Bras­si­caceae fam­ily were once known as cru­cifers, named for their cross-shaped flow­ers and, in the case of the fruit­ing mem­bers such as cab­bages, caulis and broc­coli, the split hol­low cross in­side the stalks.

Gram for gram, the veg­eta­bles from this fam­ily con­tain more heal­ing prop­er­ties than any other food group. As well as be­ing chock-full of vi­ta­mins and min­er­als, bras­si­cas are a pow­er­house of phy­to­chem­i­cals that pro­vide pro­tec­tive nu­tri­tion — act­ing as anti-car­cino­gens, anti-in­flam­ma­to­ries and pro­mot­ing liver detox­i­fi­ca­tion.

There are more than 20 veg­eta­bles in this fam­ily, in­clud­ing fa­mil­iar names such as broc­coli, cab­bage, cau­li­flower, kale, bok choy and other Asian cab­bages, brus­sels sprouts, radishes and rocket as well as other lesser-known veges such as horse­rad­ish, land cress, turnips, swedes, mizuna, kohlrabi and mus­tard. Each has its own par­tic­u­lar nu­tri­tional high­lights: broc­coli is a good source of vi­ta­min K, which pro­motes bone health; cab­bage has a spe­cific phy­to­chem­i­cal that pro­motes the liver’s re­moval of es­tro­gen, and brus­sels sprouts have been shown to pro­tect the body’s DNA struc­ture.

From the spicy pep­per­i­ness of rocket and radish, to the pun­gent tastes of mus­tard and kale and the mild, sweet, grassy flavours of broc­coli and cab­bage, bras­si­cas are the new dar­lings of the kitchen. Serve them raw, roast or grill them, or turn them into soups, sal­ads or stir-fries for a daily fix of pro­tec­tive good­ness for which your body will thank you. This week’s tasty recipes that will help liven up the last few weeks of your win­ter.

BRUS­SELS SPROUTS WITH BA­CON

Cheap Thrills (Annabel Langbein Me­dia, $24.95) is on sale now at Pa­per Plus, The Ware­house and all good book­stores. Find out more at

annabel-langbein.com or fol­low Annabel on Face­book or In­sta­gram.

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