A bowl of broccoli, green leaves and Brussel sprouts.

Cruciferous vegetables get their name from the four petals on their flowers that make the shape of a cross. Modern crucifers (broccoli, kale, cabbage, chard, radish, turnip, Bok choy, cauliflower and mustard greens) developed from wild plants that grow in the eastern Mediterranean region. Roman conquerors brought the vegetables to the British Isles around 500 AD.

Cruciferous vegetables can be found locally here in the Skagit Valley. Starting in June, stop by Island Health’s Farm Stand to browse selections from Schuh Farms and Ebb & Flow Farm.

Nutrition: The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend for adults to consume 1½-2½ cup-equivalents of dark-green vegetables per week, including cruciferous vegetables, as part of healthy meals. Cruciferous vegetables containing the following nutrients:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B9
  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Soluble and Insoluble Fiber
  • Glucininolate

Fun Facts: 

  • Glucisinolate is a nutrient found in cruciferous vegetables that has been shown to help fight cancer. The more glucosinolate in a vegetable, the better it is for you, but the more bitter it tastes.
  • Kale and Brussels sprouts have the most glucosinolates.
  • The Saxons were so taken with this family of vegetables that they named the second month of their calendar year Sprout Kale, in honor of the plants’ annual sprouting.
  • According to Greek myth, the first crucifers sprang from beads of sweat on the brow of the god Zeus.

Storage Tips: Cruciferous vegetables are hardy but keep them dry and cool to avoid spoilage. Use a salad spinner to remove any excess water from cut leafy greens, then refrigerate them in a bag with a clean kitchen towel for up to a week. Stored properly in the refrigerator crisper, kale, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts will stay fresh for at least a week, and a head cabbage will last up to a month. Store root vegetables in this family — such as turnips and rutabagas — in a cool, dry, and dark place for several months.

Click here for flavorful and nutritious Arugula Chimichurri recipe!

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