Thursday, 18 December 2014

How to enjoy sprouts beyond Christmas

By now we’ve all heard of kale, and it’s probably the current trend for the curly leaf we have to thank for putting brassicas and their benefits at the centre of the table. But riding on the coattails of kale is, surprisingly, the sprout. Loathed by many and over-boiled by plenty, sprouts are nonetheless increasingly sought after for meals besides the Christmas dinner.

Sales of sprouts are up by 13% to 32million kg in the past 12 months, according to recent research by Kantar Worldpanel. These miniature cabbages are now making their way into smoothies, salads and stir-fries, being charred and roasted through a culinary renaissance. And this increase in sales has led sprouts growers to extend their growing season beyond Christmas, so it now spans from August to April.

Whatever you think of trends, the popularity of brassicas can only be a good thing. Typically, the darker green the leaf, the more vitamins and minerals it contains. They’re packed rich with vitamins and antioxidants, which are essential for keeping your immune system healthy. They give you a potassium boost, which helps keep blood pressure down and are an excellent source of beta-carotene. Importantly for non-meat eaters, they’re a great source of iron, too.

For many, though, sprouts remain the only disappointing part of the festive plate, so why not cook yours a little differently and incorporate them into something other than your Christmas dinner? Unleash their nutty undertones, and discover what all the fuss is about with our easy recipe.

Beef and sprouts stir-fry
Pre 10 min
Cook 20 min
Serves 4


300g Brussels sprouts, shredded or thinly sliced
1tbsp toasted sesame oil
500g lean beef, cut into strips
Bunch spring onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ head cabbage, shredded
Juice 1 lemon
4tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 x 250g packs ready-to-serve steamed basmati rice, to serve


1. Steam the Brussels sprouts until just tender, then set aside.

2. Add 2tsp of the sesame oil to a wok or frying pan and put over a high heat. Cook the beef in batches for 3 min or until browned, then transfer to a plate.

3. Add the remaining oil to the wok or pan. Stir-fry the spring onions, garlic and cabbage for 2 min or until soft. Put the sprouts and beef back in the pan, with the lemon juice and sweet chilli sauce and cook, stirring, for 1–2 more min. Serve with the steamed rice.

Easy variation Replace the lemon juice and sweet chilli sauce with 2tsp grated ginger and 3tbsp reduced-salt soy sauce.

Low cal
Low fat
Low saturates
Low sugar
Low salt
High protein
High iron
Gluten free
Dairy free
1 of 5-a-day

Per serve: 419kcal, 35.4 protein, 11.2g fat, 3.2g saturates, 46.9g carbs, 7.2g sugar, 6.3g fibre, 1.2g salt, 81mg calcium. 5.3mg iron

Top tips when shopping for sprouts

Choose firm, fresh-looking and brightly coloured veg that smell fresh and not ‘cabbagey’. Avoid any that are limp and browning at the edges.

Store in the fridge for up to four days. Sprouts on the stalk will keep in a cool place for several weeks.

Eat eight sprouts for a portion of your five-a-day

Cook Finely shred sprouts, then stir-fry in a little groundnut oil with garlic, ginger and lemon zest. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice.

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