Brussel sprouts may be one of the healthiest vegetables, but they are certainly not one of the most popular ones. Many people find Brussel sprouts to be too bitter no matter how they cook them.
But what if you eat Brussel sprouts raw?
Can you eat Brussel sprouts raw? Yes, it is completely safe to eat Brussel sprouts raw. Being a member of the cruciferous family, you can eat Brussel sprouts without cooking just like you eat cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. The only problem is that raw Brussel sprouts may be slightly bitter.
In this article, we will tell you why and how to eat Brussel sprouts raw, and what the differences are between cooked and raw Brussel sprouts. You will also get tips for making raw Brussel sprouts taste better.
What Are Brussel Sprouts And Are They Good for You?
Brussel sprouts, mistakenly considered to be baby cabbages, are a member of the cruciferous vegetable family along with cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale.
These green vegetables are a great source of fiber. Like other members of the cruciferous family, Brussel sprouts are rich in vitamins and minerals. And what’s good, they are low in calories too.
Here are some of the health benefits of Brussel sprouts.
- Brussel sprouts are high in antioxidants. The kaempferol content of these vegetables makes Brussel sprouts an impressive antioxidant food that improves heart health and efficiently decreases the overall oxidative stress of the body.
- Brussel sprouts support digestive health. Thanks to their high fiber content, Brussel sprouts are a great addition to your diet for improved digestion.
- They help regulate blood sugar levels. Brussel sprouts along with other members of the cruciferous family decrease the risk of diabetes. And thanks to the high amount of fiber in Brussel sprouts, these vegetables also help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
And these are only a part of the health benefits of Brussel sprouts. But despite all the benefits Brussel sprouts have so many health benefits, a lot of people don’t like them.
Some people don’t like Brussel sprouts even without having tried them. But why? They don’t even taste that bad!
As it turns out, there is science behind this. Or better say, if you hate Brussel sprouts and find them to be too bitter, it’s all in your DNA.
Put simply, some people have the genes that make their receptors taste the bitterness of the Brussel sprouts while others don’t.
So, next time your friend says they hate Brussel sprouts, don’t argue. It’s in their DNA, you can’t change anything.
Can You Eat Brussel Sprouts Raw? Is It Safe?
If you enjoy eating cooked Brussel sprouts, you have certainly wondered if you can eat them raw. The answer is yes, you can eat Brussel sprouts raw.
Just like other cruciferous vegetables, including cabbage cauliflower, and broccoli, it is completely safe to eat Brussel sprouts raw.
Is It Better to Eat Brussel Sprouts Raw or Cooked?
As we have noted above, there is nothing wrong with eating Brussel sprouts raw. But there are a few things you should know before you eat these vegetables without cooking.
First off, uncooked Brussel sprouts may be rather bitter. While these vegetables are naturally bitter, cooking eliminates some of the bitterness. When eating them raw, be prepared for experiencing a more intense bitter flavor.
Secondly, like other members of the cruciferous family, Brussel sprouts cause gas. Cooking reduces the gas produced by these vegetables. So, you shouldn’t eat raw Brussel if you find this to be a problem.
Lastly, raw Brussel sprouts are more difficult to digest. And if you have digestive issues, you may experience stomach pain as a result of eating raw Brussel sprouts.
So, eating raw Brussel sprouts has some side effects. However, if you have no health restrictions to eat these vegetables raw, you can certainly do that.
Raw Vs Cooked Brussel Sprouts
As you would expect, there are quite a few differences between raw and cooked Brussel sprouts.
Aside from being different as far as the texture and flavor are concerned, the raw and cooked variations of this cruciferous vegetable also have slight differences when it comes to their nutritional value.
Read on to learn what are the main differences between raw and cooked Brussel sprouts.
The flavor differences between raw and cooked Brussel sprouts are quite significant.
In general, the flavor of Brussel sprouts is similar to the flavors of broccoli and cabbage, but a bit more intense. Raw Brussel sprouts can also taste bitter.
When it comes to the flavor of cooked Brussel sprouts, it largely depends if you have cooked them in the right way. With a proper cooking technique, Brussel sprouts turn out to have a nice nutty flavor.
Brussel sprouts can be cooked in a few different ways. You can steam, roast, braise, and sautee Brussel sprouts. The key is to not overcook Brussel sprouts. Overcooking makes these vegetables not only mushy but also bitter.
Whether you are eating Brussel sprouts cooked or raw, you can alter their flavor by adding various seasonings and sauces.
The texture of cooked Brussel sprouts greatly differs from the texture of raw Brussel sprouts. Raw Brussel sprouts are a lot like cabbage. They are slightly rubbery and chewy.
Once you cook Brussel sprouts, the leaves soften. Depending on the cooking method, the outer leaves of Brussel sprouts may also become slightly crunchy.
The uses of raw and cooked Brussel sprouts are obviously different. You have a lot more options if you have decided to cook Brussel sprouts.
You can use Brussel sprouts in stir-fries, stews, soups, pies, warm salads, casseroles, and more. With raw Brussel spouts, your options are very limited.
Raw Brussel sprouts contain a higher amount of vitamin C and folate. Additionally, raw Brussel sprouts contain lots of fiber.
If you don’t have any digestive issues and need to have a lot of fiber in your diet, you may consider eating Brussel sprouts raw.
As for the calories, according to the USDA, 100 grams of steamed Brussel sprouts contains 36 calories while the same amount of these vegetables in the raw form contains 43 calories.
The carbohydrates, fat, and protein content of Brussel sprouts don’t change significantly as a result of cooking.
How To Eat Brussel Sprouts Raw
If you have decided to eat Brussel sprouts but don’t know how, here are a few ideas!
Make A Salad
One of the best ways to use raw Brussel sprouts is to use them to make a salad.
Slice the Brussel sprouts or cut them into small cubes and mix with your favorite vegetables. You can use carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and a range of different greens.
Once you have shredded all the vegetables, drizzle them with your favorite dressing and enjoy your healthy Brussel sprouts salad for lunch or dinner.
Sandwiches And Wraps
It is always good to have a crunchy component in your sandwiches and wraps. You can always use lettuce for this. But Brussel sprouts are a lot healthier.
Additionally, if you can’t seem to incorporate Brussel sprouts into your diet, shredding them and adding them into your wraps and sandwiches is a great way to do so.
Aside from their health benefits, Brussel sprouts are also crunchier than the common greens used in sandwiches, such as spinach and certain types of lettuce.
Make Brussel Sprouts Coleslaw
As we have mentioned earlier in this article, the texture and flavor of Brussel sprouts are quite similar to the texture and flavor of cabbage.
So, you can use it to make coleslaw, a salad dish made with shredded raw cabbage and carrots.
To make Brussel sprouts coleslaw, you first need to shred Brussel sprouts. It is a great idea to add some toasted almonds or pecans, as well as dried cranberries or cherries.
For a dressing for your Brussel sprouts coleslaw, mix olive oil with apple cider vinegar and add some mustard, honey, minced garlic, and salt to it.
You can use this coleslaw like you would use regular cabbage coleslaw. Add it to sandwiches, serve with fried chicken, pulled pork, hot dogs, etc.
Make A Smoothie
Adding Brussel sprouts to your green smoothies is another way to make them even healthier.
While adding these slightly bitter vegetables to your smoothies might seem off-putting to you, Brussel sprouts for smoothies are just as good as other green vegetables.
You can use Brussel sprouts with your typical green smoothie ingredients. But if you want to tone down the bitterness of these vegetables, use them with fruits.
Mix Brussel sprouts with bananas, oranges, and berries to get all the minerals and vitamins of these vegetables while avoiding their slightly bitter flavor. You can also add honey to your Brussel sprout smoothies to balance out their bitterness.
Tips For Eating Raw Brussel Sprouts
If you are going to eat Brussel sprouts raw, you will certainly need a lot of tips. Here are three helpful tips for eating Brussel sprouts without cooking.
Clean The Sprouts Properly
If you are going to eat Brussel sprouts raw, it is especially important to clean and prep them properly.
Start with washing the Brussel sprouts under running cold water to get rid of any dirt or mud. Then trim the stems of Brussel sprouts.
It is best to use a paring knife. All you need to do is to trim off the stem making sure to remove the dried part.
Next, remove the outer leaves. These leaves may be damaged or discolored. Once you have done this, you can cut Brussel sprouts in your preferred way.
You may want to get your Brussel sprouts extra clean to eat them raw. If the sprouts you have bought seem to be dirtier than usual, we recommend taking the additional step of washing them in a baking soda solution.
To do this, add a teaspoon of baking soda into a large bowl of water and put the trimmed Brussel sprouts into it. Let the sprouts sit in the water for around2 minutes. Then remove them and rinse under running cold water.
If needed, use a vegetable brush to scrub off heavy dirt and debris.
Go For Smaller Sprouts
If you know you will be eating the Brussel sprouts raw, we highly recommend buying sprouts that are smaller. Small Brussel sprouts are usually sweeter than sprouts on the larger side.
They are also more tender and the bigger the sprouts grow the tougher the leaves get.
So, opting for smaller Brussel sprouts is a way to improve the texture and flavor of your uncooked Brussel sprout dishes.
Shred Brussel Sprouts
The biggest secret of making raw Brussel sprouts exciting is shredding them or cutting them into small cubes.
As raw Brussel sprouts have a rather chewy and tough texture, cutting them into big chunks will make them unenjoyable to eat raw.
Add More Flavors
Uncooked Brussel sprouts may taste rather bland. So, make sure you come up with bright and flavorful food combinations for raw Brussel sprout dishes, including salads. And don’t forget about the dressings.
How Can You Make Raw Brussel Sprouts Less Bitter?
There are quite a few methods for reducing the bitterness of cooked Brussel sprouts, including blanching them in salty water or roasting them at high temperatures.
While it is a little more challenging to make raw Brussel sprouts taste less bitter, there are some helpful tips you can try.
Choose Fresh Brussel Sprouts
Brussel sprouts have some natural bitterness no matter what.
If you will be eating Brussel sprouts without cooking, our best advice is that you buy the freshest Brussel sprouts. Fresh sprouts tend to be less bitter and most suitable for eating raw.
When buying Brussel sprouts make sure you go for the bright green heads that feel heavy for their size. They should also feel firm when you press them.
Also, if there are too many yellow and withered leaves on the sprouts, it means the sprouts aren’t fresh.
Remove The Outer Leaves Of Brussel Sprouts
The second most efficient way to reduce the bitterness of raw Brussel sprouts is to remove their outer leaves. It is where most of their bitterness is concentrated.
Balance The Bitterness With Sweetness
A great way to fight the bitterness of Brussel sprouts is to add some sweetness to them. But doing this is easy if you are cooling the Brussel sprouts as you can simply add some sugar to them.
With raw Brussel sprouts, you need to find other sweet ingredients that will pair well them. You can use sweet apples or dried cranberries in Brussel sprout salads.
Maple syrup is another great option for raw Brussel sprouts. Use it to make a sweet dressing for them.
Use Lemon Juice
If the combination of Brussel sprouts and something sweet seems unappealing to you, go for sour ingredients. Sourness is another great way to balance the bitterness of various foods.
The easiest thing you can do is to add a splash of lemon juice to the raw Brussel sprouts. You can also make salad dressings using lemon juice, cider vinegar, and dry white wine.
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