Were you traumatised as a child by having to eat over-cooked, smelly Brussels sprouts? Or have you always loved them? One thing’s for sure – they definitely tend to split opinions. And it often depends on how they’re cooked.
Whatever your Brussels sprout stance, they have become synonymous with British Christmastime, and this tradition shows no sign of waning.
But where did our sprout obsession come from, and what is the extent of our fixation? Here are some top Brussels sprout facts:
- Believe it or not, Brussels Sprouts are not native to the UK. They were introduced to the British Isles in the late nineteenth century. Originating from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, they were developed from wild cabbage. Apparently, the earliest forms of the Brussels sprout were probably cultivated in Ancient Rome.
- Named after the capital of Belgium, Brussels Sprouts became popular back in the sixteenth century.
- In August 2016, adventurer Stuart Kettell rolled a Brussels sprout to the top of Mount Snowdon using only his nose! He was raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support.
- Sprouts help protect against colon and stomach cancer.
- In the UK, around 40,000 tonnes of Brussels sprouts are eaten every year – almost the weight of the Titanic, and equal to the weight of around 44,000 adult male reindeer.
- Brussels sprouts belong to the Brassica family of vegetables – other members include cabbages, broccoli, kale and kohlrabi.
- Despite being a Christmas dinner table favourite, two-thirds of the UK’s sprout consumption happens outside of the festive season. In fact, we eat more sprouts than anyone else in Europe and the industry is estimated to be worth around £650M.
- As well as being a Christmas staple, Brussels sprouts are also considered a superfood. Health benefits include:
- Improved digestive health– containing enzymes that help break down our food, they are loaded in fibre, aiding the movement of food through the digestive tract.
- Great for the ol’ ticker – sprouts are proven to actively reduce dangerous cholesterol in the body, reducing our risk of heart disease and heart attacks by preventing the build-up of fatty blockages.
- Rich in nutrients – 80g sprouts contain four times more Vitamin C than an orange. They’re bursting with nutrients and antioxidants that help to strengthen the immune system, which in turn helps to fight illness and infection.
- Superhuman sight – carrots get all the glory, but sprouts can also improve sight as they are full of Vitamin A, which helps improve the quality and longevity of our sight.
- Anti-inflammatory – inflammation in the body can cause all kinds of havoc; from headaches to cancer to muscle pain and even allergic reactions like asthma. Sprouts can help prevent these ailments by preventing inflammation from occurring in the body.
- Alkalizes –if your body’s PH levels are too acidic, it can cause all manner of health problems. Sprouts can lower these PH levels, creating a more harmonious internal environment.
- Great for the mane –sprouts are also great for hair health as their Vitamin A helps to keep hair strong and shiny. And zinc also helps to prevent dandruff.
With all these health benefits, it’s no wonder that Brits are barmy about Brussels sprouts. Nutritious and delicious, the festive season just wouldn’t be the same without them.
Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts with Chilli, Garlic and Ginger
TIP: Prepare all the ingredients the night before Christmas and keep them in your fridge in an air-tight container (to prevent the odour from tainting other foods) until you’re ready to cook. Once the preparations are done, cooking only takes around 6-8 minutes.
1 tbsp olive, sesame or coconut oil
1 x 2cm lump of root ginger, peeled and grated
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
25 x Brussels sprouts, finely sliced
Pinch of sea salt
Squeeze of lime juice
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pan or wok to a medium high heat.
- Add the ginger, garlic and chilli and stir fry for a minute.
- Add the sprouts and a good pinch of sea salt; stir fry for 3-5 minutes until done.
- Squeeze in the lime. Stir and serve.
Recipe contributed by Jen Haken