This week I would like to share some information about cruciferous vegetables. These are a group of vegetables which include cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kale, rocket, mustard, radish, turnips, watercress and collard greens. They are part of the brassica genus of plants.

The main reason I am writing about them in my blog is their ability to provide important nutrients to our diet, which can help in cancer prevention.

Cruciferous vegetables are rich in several carotenoids, vitamins C, E and K along with folate and several minerals. They are also rich in glucosinolates called sulforaphanes, which are sulphur containing chemicals. These chemicals are released during the process of preparing the vegetables, chewing them as well as during digestion. The sulforaphanes have been linked to several health benefits like prevention of cancer, reducing nasal allergy symptoms, protecting the eyesight and brain health as well as improvement in abnormal behavioural and social interactions in autism.

Several studies have been done mainly related to prostate, breast, lung and colorectal cancer which have shown some positive association between the high intake of cruciferous vegetables and reduction in the risk of cancer.

So I thought I would include some of the recipes I use, to have at least one serving a day, if not two, of these nutrient rich vegetables.

  • Smoothies: I often add a handful of kale in my smoothies with water, spinach, banana and mangoes. Trust me you don’t even know it’s there with the fruits giving a really good flavour with sweetness.
  • Garlic Broccoli: This one is a favourite in our family. Steam the broccoli al dente. Then in a hot pan sauté few cloves of chopped garlic in olive oil and toss in the broccoli. Once it is all mixed, add the salt, pepper with chilli flakes and drizzle some sesame oil. Before serving add some toasted sesame seeds which add to the flavour and give a good crunch. This way you don’t lose the goodness of the broccoli by cooking it too much.
  • Roast Cauliflower: Cut the cauliflower so the florets are big and of similar size. In a separate bowl add some olive oil with garlic granules, red chilli flakes, some turmeric with cumin and black pepper powder. Add the cauliflower florets to this oil marinade and make sure that it is all mixed together properly. Then spread the marinated cauliflower in a single layer on a baking tray, and let them cook for 15-20 minutes in the oven at 200 degrees. Sprinkle some fresh coriander on top before serving. I love making this on busy week days as it pairs well with a daal and salad to complete the meal.
  • Garnish with collard greens: This is a tip I have shared a lot with my patients and they have found it easy to incorporate to their routine. Simply add a handful of finely chopped green collards five minutes before taking off your curries or lentil dishes off the hob. Just like most Indians do by garnishing their dishes with coriander. In fact, I do this with kale and spinach as well. The trick is to finely chop the kale or the collards, then they easily mix with the rest of the dish.
  • Coleslaw: This one is my favourite as I love layering the coleslaw and my boys enjoy it with almost everything! It’s a big satisfaction to be serving healthy food. So for the coleslaw, finely chop some cabbage, mix it with grated carrots (thick grater- not the fine one), thinly sliced red peppers and red onions, some spring onions and finely chopped parsley. Then make the dressing with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, a teaspoon of English mustard, a tablespoon of honey and Oatly yoghurt, pinch of chilli flakes and lime juice. Mix the dressing well and then pour over the vegetable mix. Toss it all together and serve as you wish.

You can use mayonnaise instead of yoghurt if you want but I prefer to avoid store bought sauces as much as possible. Red cabbage goes well in this too.

I have been asked by many that if someone has thyroid related health concerns they should not be taking cruciferous vegetables. However, this is only if one was to eat these vegetable in large amounts. The average portion size of cruciferous vegetable is totally fine to add to the daily meal plans, even if you have thyroid health issues.

I hope you enjoy trying some of these healthy recipes. It would be lovely to know which ones you liked!