By Alison Peake

    Didn’t we all grow up mooshing our peas into mashed potato to mask the taste or trying to hide something green on our plate to avoid it? While we were told, ad nauseum, to eat them up because they were “good for us”? Like we cared!

    Generations of mothers have tried to convince resistant offspring to “eat your greens” with the belief they were creating healthy immune systems for their ungrateful offspring

    Turns out they were right, but also potentially a little bit wrong.

    Winter produces a plethora of greens at this time of year when our systems could most do with a boost to help us combat colds and flu One family of vegetables that dominate at this time of year are known as brassicas. Never heard of them… right? Turns out they are very much in the green category and include a variety of vegetables more commonly regarded as a form of torture by the youngest of the family.

    Brassicas, or cruciferous vegetables as they are also known, are in the cabbage and mustard family and include broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, cauliflower, kale, rutabaga, turnips and every child’s nightmare …brussel sprouts.

    Nature’s little trick with these vegetables is that they have a very specific set of chemical compounds which create a bitter tang, but these very chemicals are responsible for much of the health giving properties of brassicas which are purported to prevent cancer as well as boost immune systems.

    It is possible to have too much of a good thing Over consumption can actually occur by developing a green kale smoothie habit which can overload the thyroid But never fear you would need to be ingesting 1–2 kilos a day for this to happen And that is a lot of kale!

    The best way to get your goodness from these vegetables is to make friends with them and learn to enjoy them Instead of over boiling them to a slimy mush try finding recipes which retain the freshness, flavour and crispness and celebrate their deliciousness.

    Try brussel sprouts fried with bacon, cabbage rolls, or golabki in the Polish version, kale as chips, or a Sri Lankan version with coconut milk, cauliflower cheese, broccoli stir fries, Scottish tattie and neeps (turnips or rutabaga).

    And just remember Mother always knows best! Eat your greens.

    Slow Food Melbourne farmers’ markets are at Spotswood and West Footscray 4th and 2nd Saturdays of the month. Check out Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

    Our content is a labour of love, crafted by dedicated volunteers who are passionate about the west. We encourage submissions from our community, particularly stories about your own experiences, family history, local issues, your suburb, community events, local history, human interest stories, food, the arts, and environmental matters. Below are articles created by community contributors. You can find their names in the bylines.

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