By: Suzanne Brett, RHN – Victoria, BC
Fresh radishes dusted with a tad of dirt, straight from the garden are my favorite! Almost as good as a juicy carrot. Some people think radishes are too spicy or pungent for their tastes and they prefer them cooked, shredded fine or pickled. Others, like me, crave that detoxifying nourishing root.
The pungent spicy flavour that some of you may be adverse to is due to the fact that radishes are a part of the cruciferous (or brassica) family. All of those slightly bitter greens, like mustard greens or cabbages like kohlrabi, contain phytochemicals that produce that strong flavour. For those with some certain hormonal conditions like thyroid issues, it’s imperative to cook all vegetables from this family. Doing so removes the oxalic acids that cause this flavour and that can directly block your thyroid from functioning optimally. For those not concerned about this hormonal disruptor, munch on! If you are cautious or struggling to re-balance hormones, the recipe at the bottom of this post is a great simple way for you to enjoy the benefits of radishes while eliminating that thyroid-blocking agent, and pungency.
Radishes are known to be protective against many chronic or acute toxicity conditions. The original radish was actually deep purple or black. This colour is known to be more powerful in promoting the efficacy of those phytonutrient warriors battling our free-radicals and flushing excess chemicals and hormones from our systems. For this I am grateful! Thank you, radish! These little friends are great used in detoxification and cleansing protocols. Also a super hero in fighting and preventing many cancer battles and protecting against common colds and flues.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) we look at the connections between certain flavour profiles and which organs they are related to. Pungent is related to the large intestines and lungs. It’s that pungency that exists in many of these cruciferous foods. Think about a strong mustard or wasabi, which are also pungent foods, and how they can really get your respiratory system flowing, right?! Same thing here…some are just a tad gentler than others, depending on variety and quantity, but radishes are known to do the same thing. They’ll help strengthen and tone the lungs, helping clear blood vessels of toxicity and moving the blood-circulating oxygen into our respiratory systems. They will also stimulate appetite and improve metabolism by stimulating the digestive system.
Radishes are also known as a balancing or neutral food in TCM. Certain foods are considered yin or yang, hot or cold, masculine or feminine… and radishes are considered balancing because they are neither hot or cold, or just enough of hot and cold to balance itself out. We often refer to root vegetables as a balancing and calming food. Some, but not all of them are considered balanced in the TCM approach. To someone like me, this makes radishes awesome! A real super food!
Recipe: Roasted Radishes and Brussel Sprouts
Here’s a simple radish recipe you can use with any other cruciferous vegetable. This time of year, instead of brussel sprouts, cauliflower may be more available to you and is a great replacement in this recipe.
- 1 lb Brussels sprouts, halved
- ½ pound red radishes, halved (quartered if large)
- 1 TBSP coconut oil
- A few sprigs of fresh rosemary
- ½ cup of walnuts or pumpkin seeds
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, reduced by at least half, or until thick
- Preheat oven to 400° degrees.
- Cut sprouts from stem, cut large ones in half, peel stem and cut into similar sized chunks. Toss in large bowl with coconut oil, rosemary and radishes.
- Space on a large roasting pan and place in top rack of the oven. If you have a convection oven, turn it on, watching they don’t burn. This will cut your cooking time in half.
- Roast until brussel leaves are brown and crisp and heads are tender and brown. Radishes will be lightly browned but still crunchy.
- Remove and plate.
- Drizzle with balsamic reduction and sprinkle with nuts or seeds.