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Brussels Sprouts - Why are they Bitter?

I started writing this article back in October when my Thanksgiving Brussels sprouts were unusually bitter.

Brussels sprouts are a staple in my winter vegetable garden.

The bitter flavor is concentrated in the

centre core of the Brussels sprouts and one day I conducted a taste test trying different methods to see if the bitterness could be reduced. Even when the centre core was removed, they were still on the bitter side. I even tried brining them (brining always makes things taste better), but that didn’t help improve the flavour.

Recently, I was at the Vancouver Winter Farmer’s Market and mentioned this problem to one of the local vendors. It turns out that Brussels sprouts need cool temperatures to sweeten them and it wasn’t until mid November that we had frost and mid December before we has a long cold snap. The colder weather transformed the little beauties. Magically, the flavour softened and they became absolutely delicious!

As a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, a group of powerhouse vegetables that include cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and collard greens, one cup of Brussels sprouts provides 270 % of your daily requirement of vitamin K and 160 % of your daily requirement of vitamin C. It turns out that the sulfur-containing compounds in Brussels sprouts which contribute to their bitter taste are associated with a lower risk of cancer.

Inspired by a cooking class I took at Nourish Café in Vancouver called the Ottolenghi Effect, this recipe was born.

Roasted Spiced Brussels Sprouts (serves 4)


2 cups Brussels Sprouts 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted

½ tsp Cumin ½ tsp Paprika

¼ tsp Cayenne Juice from 1 lemon

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Cut Brussels sprouts in half, removing stem.

3. In a large bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts in the melted coconut oil along with the spices, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

4. Spread the Brussels sprouts on a parchment lined baking sheet and place in hot oven.

5. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.


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