Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Healing Foods: Caramelized Brussels Sprouts and How Much is 500 Milligrams of Salt?

1 teaspoon of table salt is approximately 2400 milligrams of sodium. That teaspoon of salt thrown into boiling water to cook pasta is now almost 5 times my daily allowance of sodium (my cardiologist told me to limit my sodium intake to 500 milligrams a day). So, how does someone not familiar with watching her salt intake learn to live with less than 1/5 of a teaspoon per day?

Stop cooking with it, for starters. That has been going on for a few weeks now, and I have been pleasantly surprised that we can go without it at mealtimes with no complaint. My daughters have been enjoying their sodium-free meals, and eating more vegetables. One of their favorite veggie dishes is caramelized Brussels sprouts.

I grew up with an English mother, and Brussels sprouts, along with mashed carrots and turnips, were staples at our house. We always ate our sprouts steamed, until one year we discovered that if you steamed them lightly and then sautéed them, they were even better. When I learned in a cooking class what caramelized Brussels sprouts tasted like—I was hooked.

Steamed lightly, sautéed in a little butter sprinkled with ½ teaspoon of sugar, the sautéing process gives the sprouts a sweet/savory coating that makes the outside of the sprout a caramel brown color. They are tender, sweet/savory, delicious bites full of goodness. Steaming helps bring out the cholesterol lowering benefits of these healthy cruciferous vegetables, and they are loaded with vitamins K, C, and manganese—and fiber.

Paired with any protein, these are a healthy and delicious accompaniment.

1 lb. Brussels sprouts, stems cut and sprouts cut in half (or quartered, if they are large)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil

½ teaspoon sugar

Pepper to taste

Place Brussels sprouts in a steamer basket over boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain to remove excess water/steam.

In a skillet, heat butter over medium heat until completely melted, and sprinkle sugar over butter. Add sprouts and sauté, stirring gently ever 3-4 minutes for about 15 minutes, until outsides of sprouts become caramelized. Serve immediately.

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