Cooking with Crucifers: Delicious Vegetable Side Dish Ideas

Cruciferous vegetables are high in several nutrients and can play a significant role in maintaining your health. These vegetables, which include cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi, cauliflower, turnips, collard greens, watercress, radishes, and rutabaga, “are a rich source of fiber, vitamins A, C, K, and folate, and minerals like magnesium and potassium,” says Jenna Rosenfeld, a registered dietitian at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell. “Dark, leafy cruciferous vegetables such as kale, collard greens, and watercress are particularly high in vitamin K, which is helpful for blood clotting and bone health.”

Crucifers also are high in the phytonutrient glucosinolate, which may be helpful in preventing cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute and the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Adding More Crucifers to Your Diet

Including more cruciferous vegetables in your meals can be easy. Steam, sauté, roast, and bake them for the most benefits. Avoid boiling crucifers, as research in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition has shown that this significantly reduces phytonutrient content.

Make your own Asian dishes by sauteing broccoli, garlic, and onions with chicken, beef, and vegetables at home. Replace white rice with cauliflower rice, brown rice, or quinoa for a higher-fiber and lower-glycemic pairing.

Another classic combination is sautéed cabbage with chicken, turkey, pork, or beef sausage. The Italian seasoning or bit of spicy flavor from the sausage complements the cabbage well. This dish pairs nicely with carrots and parsnips (lower glycemic choices) or potatoes (a higher glycemic index option).

Use mashed cauliflower as a lower glycemic index replacement for mashed potatoes. Another healthy swap is cauliflower pizza crust. Cauliflower rice can replace white or brown rice with fewer carbs and calories while providing much more fiber. Use it in stir-fries, burrito bowls or to make risotto.

“If you have a family history of or are being treated for thyroid dysfunction, cook crucifers to break down a component that can interfere with regular thyroid function. If you have no problems with your thyroid, these vegetables can be eaten raw,” says Rosenfeld.

Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Yield: 6 servings


lbs. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half through the core

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp Kosher salt

1 Tbsp honey

tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar


Preheat oven to 400°F. Place Brussels sprouts, including loose leaves, on sheet pan. Add honey, olive oil, and pepper, toss and spread out in a single layer. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, until they’re tender and browned. Toss once during roasting. Remove from oven, drizzle immediately with balsamic vinegar, and toss again. Serve hot.

Nutrition Information Per Serving: 135 calories, 9 g total fat, 1 g sat fat, 9 g protein, 14 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 222 mg sodium (g=grams; mg=milligrams, sat fat=saturated fat, carbs=carbohydrates)

Source: Adapted from Ina Garten at

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