The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Brussells Sprouts Kids Crave

March 9th, 2012 · 5 Comments · Posted in kids, Recipes

Sweet & sour Brussels sprouts are the best

After our food appreciation classes on Wednesday I got wind of a parent spreading the word that she had witnessed our kids fighting for helpings of Brussels sprouts.

Imagine, kids actually loving Brussels sprouts!

Well, the moral to this story is that sometimes food is all about the preparation, not necessarily the ingredients. Many vegetables, cooked badly, are simply unpalatable. And I suspect that badly is how most people cook Brussels sprouts. But not us. We have a special preparation that’s darn near irresistible. Here’s how it goes:

For a pound or more of sprouts, trim away the stem ends and cut the sprouts in half lengthwise, removing any loose leaves. Cook the sprouts until barely done in a large pot of salted water. Drain the sprouts into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process, then dry the sprouts thoroughly on sheets of paper towel.

For the next step you’ll need a heavy skillet liberally greased with olive oil over moderately high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, cover the bottom with sprouts laid flat-side-down. You’ll need to do this in batches. Allow the sprouts to brown, then turn them over with a pair of tongs or simply toss in the skillet. Douse liberally with red wine vinegar–you’ll get a burst of steam and noise–and toss again. Season with granulated sugar, salt and black pepper to taste. Continue cooking another 30 seconds, or until most of the liquid in the skillet has evaporated. Set aside and continue with the next batch of sprouts.

You might not believe it, but our kids could not get enough of these sweet and sour sprouts. Maybe it was the excitement of seeing that cloud of steam when we added the vinegar to the hot skillet, the popping and sizzling, or even the brief flames as we tossed the sprouts in the oil. Whatever–this is one way you definitely can get children to eat their vegetables.

Note: I neglected to take photos of this week’s classes and for some reason don’t have any pictures of sweet and sour Brussels sprouts in my files. The photo I’ve shown here is the closest thing–the carrots are an extra bonus.

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  • Bethesda Locavore

    Now this is one exciting blog post. Can’t wait to try it with my kids 🙂

  • Annette

    I agree, it’s about the food tasting good. Both my kids (5&7) eat Brussels sprouts. One likes them raw and the other likes them cooked. I found with my kids they are more willing to try veggies when they come from the farmer (co-op) or back yard rather than the grocery store.

  • Ivana

    My kids went from groaning about having to eat the “no thank you bite” to asking for more! And, my version doesn’t even include sugar. It was just a matter of repeat exposure. I saute in real butter and sprinkle with sea salt. But thanks for reminding me of the magic of vinegar. Will try that next time! (btw, you may want to change the typo on “popped”.)

    I’ve found the key for vegetable consumption (among adults and kids) to be fat and seasoning. And, since fat is the key to extracting fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K (plentiful in brussel sprouts), it’s no wonder that traditional recipes always include fat in the preparation.

    Italian Wedding soup, for example, is chock full of green leafy and cruciferous veggies cooked in various fatty pork parts. Apparently, the Neopolitan’s, who came up with this soup, were known as “leaf eaters”! Obviously, not everyone in Italy was big on greens.

    I often wonder, what would happen if we just put a bit of olive oil or butter and some salt on those naked green beans at school the tide could turn! Of course, we’d have to get rid of the artificial, artery-clogging trans-fats in the rest of the meal if we didn’t want to exceed the mandated fat quota. But I think it would be worth the effort!

  • Ed Bruske

    You’re right, Ivana. Fat is all about flavor. At least some fats. But the tastier, more beneficial fats–like olive oil–are also more expensive. In the school lunch program, fat has been a real problem, since the USDA guidelines directed that meals should contain no more than 30 percent of calories from fat. So sugar was substituted in order to achieve the required number of calories in meals. Thankfully, the new school meal guidelines have lowered the total number of calories while also increasing the percentage of fat allowed to 35 percent, to align more closely with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In most school cafeterias cooked vegetables are prepared badly and typically end up in the trash. They’d probably be better off with salad bars–and dispensers of olive oil, of course.

  • Angela At Frugal Gardening

    This blog is so amazing! I am extremely passionate about educating people about the benefits of growing and eating healthy foods. Thank you so much for sharing.