Eating for Life

Sprouting vitamin C

Food styling by JILL WENDHOLT SILVA; photo by TAMMY LJUNGBLAD/The Kansas City Star
Resist the temptation to turn up your nose at these brussels sprouts. Orange juice and zest add even more vitamin C and a tangy flavor.

Once a vegetable gets a bad rap, it’s hard to change the public’s perception.

A study by the British government found that brussels sprouts rank as that country’s most hated vegetable. Absent a pile of money to fund a similar study, it’s probably safe to say that average Americans also turn up their nose at this member of the cabbage family.

What’s so great about the tiny orbs?

Brussels sprouts contain nearly as much vitamin C — 120 percent of the daily value — as an orange (130 percent). Besides high amounts of vitamin C, they are a very good source of vitamin A, folate and fiber. And new scientific research is confirming the ways that cancer-fighting indoles, found in brussels sprouts, protect the body from free radicals.

For vegetarians, brussels sprouts are also a good source of vegetable protein; 31 percent of calories come from protein. But because it is an incomplete source it must be complemented with whole grains throughout the day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( 5aday/month/Brussels _sprouts.htm).

Brussels sprouts were first grown in large quantities in Belgium. The tiny green vegetables, which resemble miniature heads of cabbage, were introduced to the United States by French settlers in Louisiana. Today most of the U.S. crop is grown in California.

The Star’s Orange Glazed-Brussels Sprouts combines the ever-popular flavor of orange juice with the less familiar flavor of brussels sprouts for a fresh take on vitamin C. For a contrast in textures, the brussels sprouts are topped with a modest handful of toasted walnuts that are high in omega 3, a heart-healthy fat, and a bit of orange zest.

Shopping tip: Fresh brussels sprouts are in season late August through March. Sometimes you can find them still attached to their stalks. Otherwise, they are usually displayed in a basket in the produce section. Look for chilled sprouts; avoid prepackaged sprouts.

Fresh sprouts will keep 3 to 5 days in a perforated bag in the vegetable bin. Frozen will work; just be sure to adjust the cooking time.

Cooking tip: Do not wash or trim brussels sprouts before storing. When you’re ready to cook, remove any yellowed outer leaves and trim the brown stems and spots with a paring knife.

Orange-glazed brussels sprouts

Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 tablespoons English walnut pieces

1 pound fresh brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup orange juice

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Spray a skillet with nonstick spray coating. Add walnuts and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, just until walnuts are golden and toasted. Remove walnuts and set aside.

Place brussels sprouts in skillet and add water. Cover, heat to boiling, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add orange juice, orange zest, salt and pepper. Cover and cook until crisp tender when poked with the tip of a knife. Uncover and continue cooking about 5 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by about half. Toss with walnuts just before serving.

Per serving, based on 4: 82 calories (25 percent from fat), 3 grams total fat (trace saturated fat), no cholesterol, 13 grams carbohydrates, 15 grams protein, 159 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber.

Recipe developed for The Star by home economists Kathryn Moore and Roxanne Wyss.

Food styling by JILL WENDHOLT SILVA; photo by TAMMY LJUNGBLAD/The Kansas City Star