If you told me when I was a kid that when I’m older, I’ll be eating brussels sprouts with joy and by the bowl-ful, I would have laughed and laughed. During my childhood, my only exposure to brussels sprouts was the super slimy green ball variety found in the winter vegetable soup. The stinky gross brussels sprout that came out of a frozen veggies bag and which was cooked for a good long time with the rest of the soup, thus suffering the worst of veggie fates – being overcooked.
It seemed there was always only one of these per bag of frozen veggies and so my mum took in in turns to either serve it to me or my brother. And if my plate of soup landed in front of me with this little gift in it, well – it was not a good day.
Does anyone have similar childhood memories? I have heard this a few times over the years. It makes me sad just to think of it. Because eating brussels sprouts honestly does not need to be like that. Brussels sprouts are not only super nutritious, they are pretty cheap and super quick to make if you know how. Here’s how I like to eat my brussels sprouts.
How to make these Thai brussels sprouts
I had these for lunch on Sunday. It took me only about 15 minutes from pulling the bag of (fresh) brussels sprouts out of the fridge to sitting down at the table with a steaming bowl of these little delights (and that probably included taking these shots!).
Yep, they’re super fast and easy to make. I wash them, pat them dry, slice off their bottoms (though this step can be omitted if your brussels sprouts are nice and fresh) and chop them in half. You can also skip that step, if you like, but I like halving them because then I can see that gorgeous charring on the cut side and that makes me super happy. You eat with your eyes too, right?
Next, I cut up some bacon (if using), heat up olive oil and toss the brussels sprouts and the bacon in the oil, cooking both over high heat. As they cook, I make up my Thai sauce. After about 5 to 7 minutes of cooking, I pour the sauce on, cook for maybe another 2 to 3 minutes and then, tadaaa – done. And who doesn’t have time for that!
The short cooking time means that these brussels sprouts end up lightly cooked, still a little crunchy, slightly charred and beautifully flavoured with the Thai sauce. Definitely not overcooked, slimy and stinky!
How good are these Thai brussels sprouts for me?
Oh so good. Brussels sprouts are low in calories but high in fiber, vitamins and minerals, in particular vitamin K, which is necessary for blood clotting and bone health, and vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps promote iron absorption and is involved in tissue repair and immune function, but also vitamins A and B6, potassium, iron, thiamine, magnesium and phosphorus.
As if that wasn’t good enough, their high fibre content helps support gut health and regulate blood sugar levels. and their impressive antioxidant content helps reduce oxidative stress in your cells and your risk of chronic disease and cancer.
Brussels sprouts are especially high in kaempferol, an antioxidant that may reduce cancer cell growth, ease inflammation and improve heart health.
And how about this? Brussels sprouts are one of the best plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids, with 135 mg of ALA in each half-cup (78-gram) serving of cooked brussels sprouts. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce blood triglycerides, slow cognitive decline, reduce insulin resistance and decrease inflammation.
How impressive is that?
And I believe that serving them lightly cooked with a bit of olive oil (which should allow for the nutrients to be better absorbed by your body) and some delicious Thai sauce is the best way to serve them (bacon is optional but delicious). And yes, if the Thai sauce seems familiar, you’re not imagining things – it’s my Thai salad dressing without the olive oil (because why add more, when there’s already some in the pan). The salty, sweet and sour flavours work wonderfully here and how good is it when you can use your favourite dressing elsewhere than in a salad? Can you tell I am slightly obsessed with this sauce?
And you will be too when you realise it’s gluten free thanks to the tamari (I use this one) and refined sugar free (thanks to the maple syrup). The bacon gives it extra flavour but feel free to omit it, if you’re plant-based.
Why are they called brussels sprouts?
Interesting tidbit time! Wikipedia says that although native to the Mediterranean region with other cabbage species, brussels sprouts first appeared in northern Europe during the 5th century, and were later being cultivated in the 13th century near Brussels, Belgium, from which they derived their name.
Thai brussels sprouts
- glug olive oil
- 300 g brussels sprouts, sliced in half
- 100 g thickly sliced bacon (optional but delicious), diced or cut into batons
- about 2-3 tbsp Thai sauce (recipe below, though the amounts shown below are more than you will need – you can use the rest to make my rainbow salad with Thai salad dressing)
- 1.5 tbsp tamari or gluten free soy sauce
- squirt of garlic paste (or 1 garlic clove, crushed)
- scant 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- Wash and dry the brussels sprouts. Slice the bottoms off them (if needed), then slice them in half.
- Slice or dice your bacon, if using.
- Heat up the olive oil over high heat in a medium to large frying pan, then toss in the brussels sprouts and bacon.
- Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes over high heat, stirring occasionally (towards the end) – until the brussels sprouts are looking nice and lightly charred.
- While the brussels sprouts are cooking, make your Thai sauce – simply place all the ingredients in a small glass jar, put on a lid on tightly and shake until combined.
- Pour 2 to 3 tbsp of the sauce over the brussels sprouts and bacon. Let cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, then take off the heat and serve immediately. Do not overcook.
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