Step One: Add Cruciferous

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Research supporting a plant-based diet is hitting the headlines as medical journals publish convincing data. However, switching to a plant-based diet can seem daunting at best and nearly impossible to some people or at some times. The object of this program and this website is to make the impossible become possible and the formidable seem easy. In just 12 easy steps you’ll have completely adopted a plant-based lifestyle. After just the first step your health will begin to improve. Each step you take will get you closer to accomplishing your goal. Whether you desire to increase your fruit and vegetable intake or wholly adopt a plant-based diet this program is for you. You can move through each step at your own pace, which may take you one day, or one week, or one month.

Step One:

Eat a large serving of cruciferous vegetables everyday. Cruciferous vegetables include cauliflower, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, arugula, turnips and cabbage. For a complete list of cruciferous vegetables see the end of the article. In addition, focus on feeling grateful as you eat. Think of the abundance of wonderful plant foods and feel grateful for the opportunity to enjoy them each day. 

cauliflower steak
Cauliflower Steak

Why eat cruciferous?

Cruciferous vegetables could arguably be called the healthiest foods on the planet. They contain flavonoids, sulforaphane, glucosinolates and other compounds which have powerful anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Glucosinolates give the cruciferous vegetables their distinct pungent aroma and spicy/bitter flavor. Studies involving cruciferous vegetables report a significant decrease in mortality and cardiovascular disease with intake of cruciferous vegetables. Other studies show cruciferous vegetables helping to lower LDL cholesterol and increasing ability for the body to detoxify carcinogens. Intake of cruciferous vegetables is associated with decreased risk of cancer- bladder, breast, colorectal, endometrial, gastric, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate and renal. 

Why the first step?

It is easy to add good stuff. Even before removing animal products or processed foods your health will begin to improve with the increase of plant foods. It will also help you “crowd out” less healthy foods by filling you up with fiber-filled, antioxidant-packed vegetables. Next, by adding cruciferous vegetables your taste buds will begin to change. It takes a while to change what you like to eat. Eventually, you will prefer these new healthier options. Through my own journey to restorative health I wake up each morning craving a large chopped salad or my favorite sauteed sweet and sour cabbage.

Key to Success

Your chance of success improves if you know how to prepare cruciferous vegetables so that they taste good. Here are some great places to start:

Easiest option:

Eat coleslaw or kale salad. Get a pre chopped coleslaw or kale salad mix from the grocery store. Costco’s kale salad mix is quite tasty. For best practice substitute premade dressings with a healthier option such as Orange Peanut Sauce.

You can quite easily make your own kale salad in five minutes.

  1. Remove stems from a bunch of kale and tear or slice into bite size pieces.
  2. Sprinkle kale with a pinch of salt, a squeeze of lemon, and chunks of avocado.
  3. Massage salt, lemon and avocado into the kale leaves for a minute.
  4. The fat, salt, and acid soften the kale leaves and counteract the strong and bitter flavor of the kale.
  5. Add additional toppings such as apples, currants or raisins, nuts and seeds, and spices.

Hint: prepare and tear enough kale to make salads throughout the week.

Apple Pear and Turnip Salad
Apple Pear and Turnip Salad

Cruciferous for breakfast?

Accomplish your goal to eat cruciferous vegetables every day by starting with breakfast. Smoothies make a great vehicle to consume a lot of greens such as kale. Try a Berry Kale Smoothie:

Fill your high speed blender half full of baby kale leaves. Add 2 cups of your favorite frozen berry mix. Add a frozen banana broken into pieces. Add one can of coconut milk. Add additional liquid (water or juice), if needed, to provide a good consistency. 

Note: Coconut milk is rich and creamy which will help fill you up and provides fat to help digest the fat soluble vitamins in the kale.

roasted cauliflower chickpea frittata
Roasted Cauliflower Chickpea Frittata with Golden Raisins

Other breakfast options to fill your belly with cruciferous veggies? 

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas with Kale

Sneaking in cruciferous vegetables!

Another tool to add more cruciferous vegetables each day: Sneak them in foods you already eat. Add turnip, diced up finely, to a pot of potato soup or a salad. Use kale or cabbage on tacos instead of lettuce. Napa cabbage works especially well on tacos. It has a more mild flavor than many cruciferous vegetables and a softer texture than traditional cabbage. Chopped kale can be added to many casseroles and hardly be noticeable such as enchiladas or lasagna. Add kale or arugula (rocket) to your sandwich or atop a slice of pizza. Try cauliflower riced instead of white rice which can be found at most grocery stores. I usually get it from Trader Joe’s.

make your own pasta bar
Pasta Bar

Cruciferous vegetables for the entire family.

Make-your-own is a great way to start to introduce cruciferous options to your family. A Baked Potato Bar or Vegetable and Pasta Bar are great options especially when feeding a crowd. Mediterranean Bowls or Southwestern Bowls also provide make-it-yourself meals with cruciferous vegetable options.

date nut oat balls
Super Food Energy Balls with Maca

How about in dessert?

Cruciferous vegetables even taste good in dessert. Maca powder is made from maca root which is a cruciferous vegetable. Maca powder has a sweet, nutty flavor and makes a great addition to smoothies or energy balls. Make up a batch of Superfood Energy Balls to snack on when the munchies get to you.

A note on gratitude!

Eating is as much of an emotional endeavour as it is a physical one. Focusing on feelings of gratitude while you eat and in life in general will help change the physiology of the body. Gratitude is powerful medicine. It heals the mind, body and spirit. Stress will decrease, and joy increase. Gratitude helps us feel present in each moment. Feelings of abundance and gratitude instead of deprivation will start you off right on your journey towards a whole food, plant-based diet. 

“The more thankful I became, the more my bounty increased. That’s because, for sure, what you focus on expands. When you focus on the goodness in life, you create more of it.” Oprah Winfrey

List of cruciferous vegetables

Arugula (Rocket), Bok Choy, Broccoli, Broccolini, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chinese Cabbage, Choy Sum, Collard Greens, Cress, Daikon, Gai-lan (Chinese Broccoli), Horseradish, Kale, Kohlrabi, Maca, Mizuna, Mustard Seed, Radish, Rapini, Rutabaga, Savoy Cabbage, Tatsoi, Turnip, Wasabi, Watercress

Looking for even more ideas? 

Go to and click on the tag for #cruciferous