Cruciferous Veggies for Hormonal Balance

In my last post, Is Estrogen Dominance Messing With Your Reproductive System, I mentioned that eating more cruciferous vegetables helps the liver to break down excess estrogen in the body. Too much estrogen can cause a whole bunch of problems related to the reproductive and hormonal systems.

Cruciferous vegetables are a group of plants that belong to the mustard family. You’ll also hear them referred to as Brassicas. They contain a compound called indole-3-carbinol, which helps to balance hormones, detoxify the liver and intestines, and has anti-cancer properties. If you are experiencing a hormonal imbalance or need to detoxify, you may want to eat more of them.

Here is a list of a few of my favourite cruciferous veggies and some new ideas on how to cook them.

  1. Cabbage – cabbage is surprisingly versatile, comes cheap and 1 head can get you through several meals. For Butter Braised Cabbage, chop a ¼ of a head (or up to a half if cruciferousyou have chosen a small head) of Savoy, red, green or Napa cabbage. Put in a pot with about a half inch of water in the bottom and steam over medium heat until soft, about 15 minutes. Stir often and add water if it evaporates. Add 2 Tbsp. butter, salt and pepper to taste and stir until the butter melts and coats the cabbage.  You can also throw shredded cabbage into stir-fries, salads and coleslaw.
  2. Brussel Sprouts – don’t stop reading. I know, the sprouts are not a popular choice. They used to be one of only two things in the vegetable world that I would not eat. Until I tried them roasted. Trim and remove any yellow outer leaves of 3 cups sprouts and then half them. Transfer to a 9” by 11” baking dish or cookie sheet with 2 Tbsp. coconut or olive oil and about ½ tsp sea salt. Roast at 400 F for about 35 minutes, stirring often. Top with a few candied or toasted pecans to balance the bitterness.
  3. Kale – we have heard lots about kale lately. And for good reason. It is packed with nutrients. One of my favourite ways to get more kale is to make it into chips. Wash 6 cups of stemmed kale and dry thoroughly (and I mean thoroughly). Toss with 2 tsp. olive oil and a pinch of salt. Spread in a single layer on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes. You’ll be shocked at how tasty these chips are. Almost as addictive as potato chips.
  4. Collard Greens – if you haven’t been to Freshii in Toronto, you must try it. It has some of the healthiest take-out food I have been able to find. They often use collard greens in place of a wheat tortilla shell for a lighter, gluten-free wrap. Steam whole leaves until they turn a deeper green (a few minutes or so), dry thoroughly and use in place of your usual wrap. Store extra leaves in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  5. Radish – I never enjoyed radishes as a kid and picked them out of my mom’s salads. But I recently tried them again at a party where the hostess added them to a veggie tray. I was pleasantly surprised at the refreshing flavour. After some research, I realized that if you buy them in the spring and early summer, they have less bitterness than the later harvests.  I haven’t yet tried them cooked but apparently they are quite tasty when you sauté them in butter or olive oil.  cruciferous
  6. Mustard Greens – how could I not mention this one when the cruciferous are part of the mustard family? Mustard greens are sometimes hard to find, but if you can, they are a nice change in salads. Try adding them to my Beet and Arugula Salad already posted.
  7. Broccoli – the old standby. Broccoli is really quite versatile. It is easy to just steam it, add a squeeze of lemon and serve it as a side to any meat dish. It can also be added to a variety of soups, omelettes, quiches, stir-fries, and curries. Keep some around and add a few florets to your favourite recipe.

There are lots more cruciferous vegetables but I’ll save some more ideas for cooking them for a future post. If you do like cauliflower, bok choy, arugula, watercress, rapini (broccoli rabe), kohlrabi, turnip, or rutabaga, and already cook with them, keep them in the rotation, as they are all on the list. Or try something new, freshen things up.  Get creative and get your cruciferous!


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