Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How To Roast Brussels Sprouts

Today was our daughter, Gracie's, 4th Birthday. I can't believe she is four already. Where did 3 go? It just disappeared into sleepless nights and endless days with twin babies.

We had a small birthday party for her over the weekend and spent the last few days telling her the story of her birth. A wonderful, peaceful birth-day, the day of the full moon, and her due date. She arrived in our home just after lunch with a short an easy labor on a beautiful, sunny and unusually warm February day. The cherry blossoms were already in bloom, so fittingly, Lily nicknamed her (before she was born) Cherry Blossom baby (though we had no idea we were having a girl). As Tom was floating newborn Grace in the warm water of our birthing tub my mom called out to Lily, who was also in the birthing tub, "Lily what is the baby's name?" Cherry Blossom, Lily replied. The name stuck around for a while and eventually Lily began to call her Grace.

A lot has happened since becoming pregnant with her. In the Spring of 2004, during my first trimester, Tom found out he was gluten-sensitive rather by accident. He was doing a raw food cleanse for a few weeks and noticed that all of his symptoms disappeared and then returned upon commencing his normal diet. He had a good idea what the culprit was since he was already somewhat familiar with celiac disease and working on finishing his Master's degree in Nutrition. I was happy for him to find relief in his digestive discomfort, which was sometimes extreme, but mad at the same time that he wouldn't and couldn't eat my homemade bread and cinnamon rolls (among others) anymore. I now see this in a lot of people......the anger, and then finally the coming to terms with the issues surrounding eating or not eating gluten.

It has become his crusade in this lifetime - to educate people using the knowledge of science and research to better understand the ramifications of ingesting gluten and the myriad of health problems associated with it. 

And it is my journey to keep on creating great-tasting food that everyone can enjoy, allergy-free or not. Today, for Gracie's birthday, I made her a gluten, dairy, egg, soy, and sugar-free chocolate layer cake. I used a combination of maple syrup and agave nectar to sweeten it and pureed prunes to add moisture, flavor, and extra sweetness. It is not a sugary, guilt-laden cake, but rather a whole foods based cake for those of you who "like to have their cake and eat it too."

Is this something you would be interested in me posting? I know we have a diverse audience. Some of you are on the Elimination Diet, some of you are into eating whole foods, and others are dealing with multiple food allergies. I would love some feedback in what interests you.

Ok, so now on to the Brussels Sprouts...

Little mini-cabbages. A cabbage family vegetable. Super nutritious. Assists in liver detoxification. Very tasty when roasted.

Tom and I eat these about 3 times a week. We fight over the last one in the pan. Our 14 month old twin boys love them. They stuff them into their mouths as fast as they can and then try and try to chew it all up. I peel away the outer leaves and feed them the soft inner parts. For those of you who also have toddlers, Brussels Sprouts can be introduced between 9 and 12 months.

If you are on Tom's 28-Day Elimination and Detoxification Diet (and I know a lot of you are) this is a great food to eat during all phases of the diet. You can roast them like we do here.

Why are these little vegetables so amazing?

In Tom's words: "The sulphur compounds have been shown to alter the function of liver enzymes allowing for beneficial metabolism of hormones and other fat-soluble substances that the liver may perceive as toxic. These magical compounds also up-regulate the gene expression of antioxidant compounds in our bodies. Cancer researchers have determined these substances to be so important that they are recommending at least 2 to 3 servings of cruciferous vegetables per week with some suggesting as much as 1 to 2 servings per day (the more per day, the better)."

How to Roast Brussels Sprouts

This is so easy and simple folks. Once you try them, I am sure you will make them again and again like we do!

a few tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Brussels Sprouts, ends trimmed and sliced in half
sea salt or Herbamare and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Place halved Brussels Sprouts into a baking dish and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Turn each of them so the cut side is down.

Roast for 10 to 15 minutes depending on the size. I forgot about mine today and left them in for 15 minutes which was a tad too long for these. You will notice in the photo that they are a little browned. Tom and I like them a bit lighter but they were still great.

You can garnish them with a squeeze of lemon and a bit of freshly grated lemon peel is desired, though I usually don't do this now that my boys are eating them (they can't eat citrus right now).

About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. Speaking of phase 1: I have a hankering for some asparagus, sliced in half with a little seasalt, olive oil, garlic and a dash of curry powder...would that be fitting? How about some watermelon as an evening snack?

    BTW-great post! I loved reading about Grace's birth. There is nothing more inspiring to me than children :) And I, personally, would love the cake recipe-I have a recipe folder in my inbox and word, and I will just stash it in there until I am ready. I was just dreaming yesterday about an extravagant 3 layer chocolate cake, Ali style. Thanks so much for all you do!!! J.

  2. Oh please post the recipe for Grace's birthday cake!!! I only recently found out I am wheat and dairy intolerant, but love to eat cake!! Your recipes have been a life-saver for me. Thanks you so much.

  3. First of all, happy birthday to your little Cherry Blossom!
    I am so happy someone else loves brussel sprouts!! I LOVE these little guys; I've been eating them often now that I finally found some organic ones in the store a few weeks back. Your yummy roasted method is what I will try next.
    Yes I would love the recipe for your whole foods chocolate cake. Any recipe that is egg & cane sugar free as well as gluten/dairy free is so appreciated. It's hard to find all of those foods eliminated in recipes and even harder for them to be whole foods/healthy recipes after all those food items have been taken away. I have a myriad of painful digestive issues (an autoimmune disorder that makes my body attack itself when eating the "wrong" foods) so these kinds of recipes are such a treat. I also like simple recipes like roasted brussel sprouts that remind me to keep eating those naturally easy allergen free foods too.
    Anyway, thanks for the fun post!
    I love the pretty bowl in your picture by the way!

    <3 Coconutgal

  4. Hey Ali- I keep spreading the word about you and Tom and your work. I would love to have more recipes for baking, my kids just love it. I have really enjoyed the rice free recipes you have posted. Thank you, it is nice to eat baked goods again.

    And, my kids love roasted anything these days, even broussel sprouts.

  5. Hi Ali - Thank you for all of the great info in your blog! I love reading it and am so grateful to have it and your cookbook as a resource as I am gluten-dairy-egg-sugar free (among other things). Is there another book in the works?

    And since you asked what else we're looking for...
    I've been trying to find a recipe for something frosting-like to put on cake. Do you have any ideas? Maybe something with coconut oil (or margarine or shortening), cornstarch, sweetened with maple syrup, agave, or maybe stevia?

    ALSO, I would love a recipe for refined-sugar free chocolate. I'm picturing cocoa powder, coconut oil + liquid sweetener, but not sure if that would set up properly? As you can tell, my sweet tooth is deeply engrained. :)

    Thanks again for everything you and Tom do for us!

  6. I'm glad to find your blog. It seems there are so few who are eating gluten free who also care about eating foods with high nutrition. I love brussel sprouts! I can't wait to read more of your blog.

  7. I would love your cake recipe! I have been enjoying the recipes from your book. My mom and I are gluten free, dairy free and sugar free. I made her your cashew coconut cookie recipe and the energy bars with coconut and medjool dates. She and I loved them. And my husband who is not gluten free loved them too! I am eager to make the brussel sprouts - I have not eaten them before. I just love your recipes!

  8. Yes, of course, we would love the chocolate cake recipe.

    I too loved reading about Grace's birth--Happy Birthday to her!

    I am especially grateful when you include how you do adaptations for the boys since we're always looking for new ideas to feed the girl.

    We are deeply appreciative of the good ideas you share!

  9. Jenna - Yep, asparagus and melon are in for phase 1! Thanks for your interest in the cake, I will try to post it soon!

    Daphne - Your name is what Tom really wanted to name Grace when she was born! But I had already chosen her name and knew w hat it needed to be. I let Tom name the boys. I will post the cake soon!

    Coconutgal - We love Brussels sprouts here, I always buy mine organic too, I should have mentioned that. Sometimes I pick away a few bugs. A good way to know if a food is safe - as long as the bugs eat it then its fine! I am glad I can help and post recipes that are free of so many things. The bowl - I made it in college - I was an art major before turning to pre-medical biology and ultimately, nutrition. Thanks.

    Katie - Thanks so much for the feedback, I will be sure to keep posting baked treats with rice free options.

    Sara - Thanks, I am glad you are enjoying the cookbook! I do have a frosting recipe that is sugar-free. It goes along with the chocolate cake, I will post it then. I think Tom may have created a chocolate recipe a while ago like the one you describe, I will need to ask him.

    Mamabee - Glad you found our blog, yes we are very concerned about the nutrition and the GF factor.

    Anon - So happy to hear you, your mom, and husband have been enjoying the GF treats in our book! Happy Cooking!

    Jennifer - Well it sounds unanimous, the cake will be the next post, and after that, as you requested, the teff pancakes.

    Thanks for your sweet comments everyone, Ali :)

  10. I have not tried these roasted before. We usually steam them and toss them in your almond-lime sauce from your book. The picture is making my mouth water, I will try it this way next time, thanks.

  11. I loved the story of Grace's birth (and wow, how many children are born on their due date?). I also appreciated you sharing how Tom found out he was gluten sensitive and your reaction to the news. I have gotten a lot of that type of reaction from my husband's family. None of them have made the turnaround you have, but I try not to focus on it. When we have family gatherings, I just bring foods I can eat safely and sometimes luck out with them preparing basic foods that are also GF.

    I've shared before on my blog how I was not exposed to a lot of vegetables as a child and am still learning to like many. Brussel sprouts are a good example. We never had them growing up and when I tried them in the past, they were not enjoyable. However, a girlfriend made them last month as part of a dinner and hers were fantastic. Hers were organic, halved, and then sauteed in garlic and butter if I remember correctly. Your roasting method in olive oil would be even better---can't wait to try these!

    Thanks once again for all your great info here, :-)

  12. I forgot to say I did not know about all the detox benefits of brussel sprouts. I guess when I sit down with your book, I'll learn all that. Too cool. Good and good for you!

    Roasted chickpeas were on my menu yesterday and today. Prepared much the same way as your brussel sprouts. Roasted in a little olive oil and a bit of cayenne pepper. Heaven.


  13. Brussels sprouts rock! I made these for dinner along with the chocolate cake, salmon, and rice. I think we'll be doing this one again. This was my first experience with this vegetable and I really like it. Thank you Ali and Tom!

  14. David - Tossing them in the Almond Lime sauce sounds yummy, great idea, thanks for sharing!

    Shirley - You know, it certainly didn't happen overnight for me, maybe it took years of accepting the GF lifestyle! It especially hit me when we found out Grace had issues with gluten among other foods. I bet you'll love these amazing little veggies! Roasted chickpeas sound great too!

    Steph - Thanks so much for the feedback, your meal sounds amazing!

  15. Ali - is the seasoning pepper allowed in phase one? I know peppers aren't, but what about just the black pepper seasoning that usually accompanies sea salt?


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