Dijon Brussels Sprouts Make Taste Buds Happy

True or False: It’s the holiday season; therefore, our eating is undoubtedly going to go to shit.

False. Right? So why do we act as if all bets are off until we slog our way through December, filling our pantries and bellies with cookies, booze, or some version of a cheesy-but-waxy bacon dip until January 1 finally arrives?

There’s likely a whole lot of possible answers to that question that could be explored such as both biological and emotional cravings, wacky blood sugar (especially once we start eating the sweets), loneliness, or any other number of feelings we want to numb. But I also think it’s fair to say that simply being around more junk food because we’re attending more parties lends itself to eating more junk food. Agreed?

Even though I’m a health coach, I can’t keep junky food in the house or I will eventually make my way to that junky food. That surprises some people, but it’s the truth; therefore, I limit my exposure by not bringing crap into my house in the first place. It’s a safeguard. What if we rebuffed the notion that everyone gains five pounds in December and did our best to safeguard ourselves instead?

What would happen if we said ‘no’ to the neighborhood cookie exchange?

What would happen if we made a loving deal with ourselves that we could have 1-2 glasses of wine OR a dessert at that party, but that we wouldn’t indulge in both in the same night? Could we do this from a place of self-love and not feel deprived?

What would happen if we tried to fill our bellies first with delicious, nourishing food and told ourselves that we could indulge a little only after we’d satisfied our hunger with real food? It might sound crazy, but with some practice it is possible. Try this: fill half your plate with vegetables, add some protein, and maybe add on a piece of fruit so your sweet taste buds get some attention, too. Still want something else sweet? It’s ok. Find a lovely piece of dessert and savor the heck out of it. At this point your belly will be nice and full and hopefully the sugars in that dessert will be absorbed more slowly and won’t send your blood sugar on a roller coaster.

It’s not what we do every once in a while that steers our health; it’s what we do consistently.

Just as in my last blog post, I challenge you to bring something “healthy” to your next gathering. Nutritious, whole foods can end up being some of the most delicious dishes of the night. Flavor does not have to be sacrificed just because you’re bringing Brussels sprouts, as this recipe will show you. Enjoy.

Dijon-Braised Brussels Sprouts

Serves 4 as a side dish

1 pound Brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)
3 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard (or more to taste)
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Trim ends off of sprouts, remove any tough outer leaves, and halve lengthwise. In a large, heavy 12-inch skillet heat butter and oil over moderate heat. Arrange halved sprouts in skillet, cut sides down, in one layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook sprouts, without turning, until undersides are golden brown, about 5 minutes. [Note: If your sprouts don’t fit in one layer, simply brown them in batches, then add them all back to the pan, spreading them as flat as possible, before continuing with the shallots, wine, etc.]

Add the shallots, wine, and stock and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce the heat to medium-low (for a gentle simmer), cover the pot with a lid or foil, and cook the sprouts until they are tender can be pierced easily with the tip of a paring knife, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the lid, and scoop out Brussels (leaving the sauce behind). Add cream and simmer for two to three minutes, until slightly thickened. Whisk in mustard. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as necessary with more salt, pepper or Dijon. Pour sauce over Brussels, sprinkle with parsley, if using, and serve immediately.

In service,

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