Perhaps you are like me when you go to the grocery store. My goal is to get the things on my list and accomplish that mission as quickly as possible. Sightseeing is not part of that goal, which is the reason I did not see a new vegetable being called a Kalettes, Flower Sprouts, or BrusselKale. This new vegetable is a cross between Brussel sprouts and kale.
My first reaction to hearing about Kalettes is to wonder why anyone would even consider crossing these two vegetables? I am not a fan of either one, even if they are packed with a ton of good phytonutrients and fiber. Kalettes were developed using traditional breeding methods, not gene modification, by Tozer Seeds in the U.K., where they were introduced on grocery store shelves in 2010. They were first introduced in the U.S. in 2014.
Kalettes grow similarly to Brussel sprouts, forming florets that look like miniature heads of kale along the stalks of upright plants. Like Brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale and other cole crops, Kalettes are a cool season crop. Johnny’s Selected Seeds sells Kalletes and Flower Sprouts seed. They indicate that the plants take 110 to 138 days to mature, depending on the variety. In our region they are probably best started from seed in late summer and grown as a fall season crop.
This new veggie has captured the interest of young foodies. Kalettes even have their own website at www.kalettes.com. Who knew? I have not yet tasted one, but this new veggie is reported to have a “unique flavor” that is both “sweet and nutty” and milder than Brussel sprouts. First marketed in trendy grocery stores, Kalettes are making their way into mainstream stores. I found them locally in a big chain grocery store when I looked.
Another new vegetable trend among foodies are purple vegetables of all kinds. Purple vegetables are not new. There are purple varieties of many different types vegetables already available, but the health conscious foodies are making them a hot trend. Why may purple vegetables be better for you than green ones? The purple color comes from anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are natural plant pigments and potent antioxidants.
If you are looking for some purple vegetables to add to your diet, look for purple artichokes, asparagus, beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, corn, kohlrabi, lettuce, radishes, snow peas, okra, peppers, potatoes and sweet potatoes.
It is true that anthocyanins are good for you, but much of these pigments are destroyed when cooked. Not only do you lose the health value of that comes from the purple pigments, you also lose the beautiful purple color because of the heat of cooking. Purple veggies usually turn green (like purple beans and asparagus) or grayish (like purple cabbage and potatoes) when cooked. Less pigment is lost when vegetables are steamed instead of boiled.
Of course you can get the most benefit from eating raw purple veggies like Red Fire, a gorgeous broccoli with bright purple florets; Graffiti, a cauliflower with a brilliant magenta purple head; Purple Haze, a purple carrot; Deep Purple, a carrot that is dark purple inside and out; Ruby Perfection, a pinkish purple (almost red) cabbage; and Integro, a dark purple (nearly red) cabbage. You can find many of these offered by Johnny’s Selected Seeds (www.johnnyseeds.com) and other seed companies. Do not forget to eat purple fruit, like grapes, currant and plums. They also contain anthocyanins and are good for you.
Marianne C. Ophardt is a retired horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.