Botanists believe that Brussels sprouts originated from a natural mutation of Flanders kale and are named after Brussels, Belgium. Because it is named after the city in Belgium, the official name is Brussels sprout. Despite that, most of us use the phrase Brussel sprouts. It is also documented that Thomas Jefferson purchased this vegetable in the United States in 1812. 

Brussels sprouts are a member of a very nutrient-dense family of cruciferous vegetables. The main source of their health benefits is a group of compounds called glucosinolates, which are well-researched for their cancer-fighting abilities and are also responsible for their strong flavor. The more glucosinolates in the vegetable, the more bitter the taste. Brussels sprouts have the most glucosinolates and are a healthy part of any diet. Read more about other cruciferous vegetables here and here

Roasted brussel sprouts with bacon

Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Bacon

Magda Born
Humans have a natural aversion to bitter foods since most bitter foods in nature are poisonous. For this reason, perhaps, Brussels sprouts are also the hardest vegetable to incorporate into our menus. In this recipe, I cheated a little bit and added half to one whole slice of nitrate-free bacon to this dish to add extra flavor. The benefits of eating this vegetable at least once a week in the winter months outweigh the occasional consumption of bacon from locally farmed animals. 
Course Side Dish


  • 1 Stock or bunch of Brussels sprouts
  • Sliced bacon (optional)


  • Brussels sprouts grow in long stalks and mature in late fall and winter. They can be purchased still attached to the stalks, sold in individual pieces or in bunches, sold in small plastic mesh bags, or frozen. 
    brussels sprouts on a stalk
  • With a sharp knife, cut off each sprout.
    brussels sprouts being cut off the stem
  • Peel off any brown or wilted outer leaves and cut the head in half.
    brussels sprouts being cut in half
  • One way to prepare Brussels sprouts is to steam them. This is the quickest method and the way my husband likes to cook them. Use a steaming basket with a tight-fitting lid and steam until medium soft. 
    brussels sprouts steaming in a pan
  • If using bacon, choose quality bacon without nitrates and cut them into pieces. 
    brussels sprouts and bacon on a chopping block
  • Cast iron works best for roasting Brussels sprouts. First, let the bacon render a little bit to coat the cast iron, and add the sliced Brussels sprouts. 
    brussels sprouts and bacon cooking in pan
  • Cover the Brussels sprouts with a firm-fitting lid, and let them cook. When they begin to brown a little, occasionally stir to prevent burning. When they are soft enough but not too mushy, turn the heat off. The residual heat from the cast iron will finish them up. 
    brussels sprouts and bacon after cooking
  • Tips:Cooking in cast iron pots adds iron to food. See references below. 



Eat Your Vegetables book cover

Eat your vegetables by Arthur Potts Dawson

Format: Book

Call Number: 641.65 DAWSON

Publication Date: 2012

Vegetables Unleashed book cover

Vegetables unleashed: a cookbook  by José Andrés, Matt Goulding, Peter Frank Edwards

Format: Book or Hoopla eBook

Call Number: 641.65 ANDRES

Publication Date: 2019

video cover The Everyday Gourmet - Cooking with Vegetables

The everyday gourmet. Cooking with vegetables [videorecording]  by William M. Briwa, Teaching Company Culinary Institute of America

Format: Video disc or Hoopla download

Call Number: 641.65 BRIWA

Publication Date: 2016

Magda Born

Community Services Librarian

Kansas City, Kansas Public Library

625 Minnesota Ave.

Kansas City, KS 66101          

913-295-8250 ext 1103