100+ Gluten-Free, Paleo, & Keto Recipes Starring Cruciferous Veggies (awesome for female hormone balance!)
Did you know that cruciferous veggies (like broccoli, kale, and cauliflower) are the absolute BEST for female hormone balance? Get more of them into your diet with over 100 gluten-free, paleo, and keto recipes starring cruciferous veggies!
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Who else’s mom begged and bribed them to eat broccoli?
It didn’t work on me.
When I was 3 or 4, I remember sitting in front of a plate-full of broccoli smothered in Cheese Whiz. I took one bit and promptly threw up.
Then, I didn’t touch broccoli again until my mid-20s.
Now, I get why moms beg and bribe kids to eat this amazing cruciferous veggie. (Though, I don’t recommend begging or bribery. Here are my 10 tips for raising Real Food-lovers.) 🙂
Momma, let’s not talk about the kids for a minute. How about we talk about why it’s time for YOU to start loving cruciferous veggies!
Because your hormones depend on it!
First, what are cruciferous vegetables?
Cruciferous vegetables are members of the Brassicaceae family. They are also called brassicas.
You are probably familiar with broccoli and cauliflower as crucifers, but there are soooooooooo many more!
- bok choy
- broccoli, broccolini, and broccoli rabe
- brussels sprouts
- cabbage — all varieties
- kale — all varieties
- mustard greens
- radish — all varieties
What’s the big deal with cruciferous veggies and hormones?
Get comfortable, Momma. What I’m about to share just might blow your mind.
After I share this info about cruciferous veggies and how beneficial they are for your cycle, estrogen detox, and hormones, you’re gonna want to include them in your meals as often as possible!
In fact, since I’ve learned about the benefits of crucifers for my hormones, I play a game with myself to see how often I CAN include them. I’m shooting for 2 out of 3 meals per day!
Let’s tackle the “crucifers are bad for your thyroid” myth first.
First, you may have heard that eating crucifers, like kale, broccoli, bok choy, and cauliflower, may damage your thyroid since crucifers are “goitrogenic” (meaning they cause goiters on the thyroid). Not only are cruciferous vegetables perfectly ok and safe if you have thyroid issues, they are also absolutely necessary for the health of your female hormones and menstrual cycle!
So, what exactly is a goitrogen?
A goitrogen is a compound that suppresses the thyroid by inhibiting the uptake of iodine.
According to Dr. Amy Myers,
Cruciferous vegetables are rich in two different goitrogens: isothiocyanates and thiocyanates. Animal studies suggest that consumption of cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, kale, and cabbage, can lead to suppressed thyroid function. However, evidence that the same thing happens in humans is lacking. Unless a person is deficient in iodine, the consumption of cruciferous vegetables has little or no effect on the thyroid. (Source.)
Furthermore, if you are very worried about the goitrogens in cruciferous veggies, you can reduce the goitrogens simply by cooking your veggies.
That’s right — steaming, sauteeing, pressure cooking, boiling, and even microwaving will reduce the amount of goitrogens in your crucifers.
Finally, balance out your goitrogen intake with iodine. I’m not recommending iodine supplementation here. Simply eat iodine-rich foods a few times per week. These include: seaweed and other sea vegetables, wild-caught shrimp, kelp, eggs, and turkey breast.
Last, don’t get stuck on an iodine/goitrogen see-saw. Your thyroid also requires calcium, selenium, magnesium, and other minerals to do its job efficiently and remain healthy. Eat a variety of foods and you’re going to be ok!
Now, let’s talk about why cruciferous veggies are awesome for your cycle, ladies!
If you’ve got PMS or symptoms like acne and anxiety that correspond with your cycle, you NEED cruciferous vegetables.
(You also need to meet my friends Dr. Alex and Megan of Zesty Ginger! They offer hormone testing and customized protocols to help you reclaim your cycle as your superpower!)
These cycle-related symptoms are caused by inadequate estrogen metabolism and detox. (Notice I didn’t say “estrogen dominance”? Here’s why.)
Cruciferous veggies contain a compound known as indole-3-carbinol. When indole-3-carbinol hits your stomach acid, the resulting chemical reaction changes it into diindolylmethane, or DIM.
Indole-3-carbinol is the same compound you may have heard prevents breast cancer. That’s because period problems — like acne, anxiety, fibroids, and sore boobs — and breast cancer are perpetuated by poor estrogen metabolism.
DIM works to block the enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen. And, it converts “bad” estrogen (the kind that gets re-circulated) into “good” estrogen metabolites that are harmless and excreted when you pee and poop.
The benefits of DIM for the female cycle and hormone balance are huge and include:
- reduced hormonal acne
- slowed weight gain and/or weight loss
- cancer prevention
- easing symptoms of perimenopause and menopause
- increasing estrogen metabolism
Here is a fantastic article that explains even more about good vs. bad estrogens and how DIM works for the benefit of the cycle.
Wait, aren’t there DIM supplements?
Yes, there are.
But, they can be a.) difficult to find a quality supplement; b.) expensive; c.) you may experience uncomfortable liver detox symptoms.
Also, you shouldn’t supplement with something that will have such a profound effect on your hormones unless you know exactly what’s going on with your hormones.
For instance, you have symptoms of such as sore boobs before your period, hormonal acne, bloating, and irritability. Naturally, you assume “estrogen dominance”.
But, your body may not actually be producing too much estrogen. You may be having anovulatory cycles due to low progesterone and an increase in stress hormones, causing these estrogen dominance-like symptoms. Or, you may be producing healthy amounts of estrogen, but are not metabolizing and excreting it properly, so it’s being re-circulated through your system.
A comprehensive hormone test, such as the DUTCH test, can determine exactly what’s going on. Then, you and your practitioner can decide if DIM supplementation is right for you.
However, without spending money on testing or a practitioner, you can consume all the cooked cruciferous veggies you like! What your body needs for DIM and estrogen metabolism, it will have. What it doesn’t require will be digested and eliminated.
Unlike DIM, cruciferous veggies are whole foods and offer loads of Vitamins C and K, sulphur, folate, and fiber.
You should consider DIM supplements if you have low stomach acid or take acid-blocking medications. In this case, your gut doesn’t produce sufficient acid to convert indole-3-carbinol into DIM. Talk with your practitioner about taking DIM supplements WHILE you heal your gut.
Benefits of Cruciferous Veggies for Women
- improved estrogen metabolism
- their sulfur-containing glucosinolates have been shown to have cancer-fighting properties
- reduced inflammation
- help regulate blood sugar
- provide dietary fiber for healthy poops, gut health, and weight loss
- high in Vitamins C, K, and A
- If you have symptoms of “estrogen dominance”, perimenopausal or menopausal discomfort or symptoms, or you’re coming off birth control start eating at least 1 cup of cruciferous veggies per day every day.
- Cooked cruciferous veggies may be easier to digest and will have lower amounts of goitrogens, if you’re concerned about your thyroid.
- Don’t start taking DIM supplements without testing your hormones first.
- Eating cruciferous veggies is preferred over DIM supplements because your body will use what it needs and eliminate the rest, whether your hormones are in a good place or not.
- The dietary fiber in cruciferous veggies helps regulate blood sugar and promote better gut health.
100+ Gluten-Free, Paleo, & Keto Recipes Starring Cruciferous Veggies
I’ve made a pretty convincing case for why we women need more of these superfoods in our lives, don’tcha think?
I’m making a concerted effort to include more cruciferous veggies in my diet — for the sake of my hormones! I’m aiming for at least one cup per day, everyday, but especially during the second half of my cycle.
So, I’ve rounded up over 100 gluten-free, paleo, and keto recipes starring cruciferous veggies!
If you’re picky, I can guarantee you will find options here that will help you to happily and willingly eat more broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, and brussels sprouts.
I love this round-up — and not only for its health benefits. I just think we all get stuck in a rut with how we cook our veggies.
Broccoli is always steamed. Radishes are always sliced on a salad. And kale? Smoothie, of course! Right? 😉
These gluten-free, paleo, and keto recipes starring cruciferous veggies will open your eyes to so many possibilities and cooking methods!
After all, changing the cooking method is one of my tips for helping your picky eaters overcome the taste or texture of certain foods.
Because no one wants grey-ish, soggy, steamed broccoli… but broccoli roasted in avocado oil with salt, garlic powder, and squeezed with fresh lemon juice? PERFECT!
Without further adieu, I give you over 100 recipes starring cruciferous veggies!
Pssssst! If you’re struggling with your hormones, PMS, heavy periods, or uncomfortable menopause, allow me to introduce you to Dr. Alex and Megan at Zesty Ginger! These gals have some game-changing info, recipes, and remedies for all the lady things!
Main Dishes Starring Cruciferous Veggies
One of the best ways to get in those cruciferous veggies is to incorporate them right into your main dish. Here, you'll find comforting, veggie-loaded main dish recipes starring cruciferous veggies!
Appetizers & Side Dishes Starring Cruciferous Veggies
You can't go wrong with appetizers and side dishes that feature cruciferous vegetables. From kale to brussels sprouts and turnips to cauliflower, add these veggie-loaded appetizers and side dishes to ANY meal!
Cruciferous Veggie Soups
Sometimes the easiest way to get veggies into your picky eaters is to disguise them in a soup. You'll find creamy, comforting, nutrient-dense soup recipes starring cruciferous veggies right here!
Instant Pot Recipes Starring Cruciferous Veggies
Bust out your Instant Pot for fast and easy main dishes, sides, and soup with cruciferous veggies. Pressure cooking is a great way to lock in the nutrients of vegetables without them becoming overcooked and soggy.
Breakfasts & Desserts Starring Cruciferous Veggies
Betcha never thought of having cruciferous veggies or breakfast or dessert! These recipes break all the molds and prove that veggies belong in any meal of the day!
Helpful Resources, Recipes & More Information About Your Hormone Health…
- Zesty Ginger’s podcast, blog, Instagram, and group programs with hormone testing
- The Period Repair Manual by Dr. Lara Briden
- Beyond The Pill by Dr. Jolene Brighten
- 7-Day Instant Pot Meal Plan + printable shopping list