Some parents tell their toddlers that broccoli is trees, with the hidden motive of feeding them with nutrition. Veggie Tales, too, has made this vegetable more fun and approachable. With immune-boosting Vitamin C benefit, it’s great that it is readily accessible, easy to cook, and affordable for your family’s weekly diet.
As part of the cabbage, this cruciferous vegetable is cousin to cauliflower, brussels sprouts, collard greens, and kale. Broccoli bunches involve stalks, whereas crowns comprise only the head without the stalks.
HOW TO CHOOSE
Available year round.
Don’t worry about the size of broccoli heads, your quest should be for uniformly dark green, tightly formed floret clusters attached to firm stalks and vibrantly coloured leaves (if attached). Signs of over maturity and aging are:
- yellow flowers blossoming
- slimy spots appearing on the stalks or florets
- tough & woody stems
- wilted leaves, if attached.
Broccoli is very perishable. As a step towards maintaining its vibrancy, do not wash the broccoli before refrigerating. Store in an open or perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper where it will keep for a week. Leftovers should be refrigerated in a tightly covered container, extending its edibility for a few days.
To Freeze: Blanching and drying well prior to freezing will increase the broccoli’s lifespan up to a year. Food for thought, frozen florets have higher sodium content and slightly lower nutritional value than fresh.
Under cool running water, broccoli may be rinsed thoroughly in a colander (do not soak). The thick base of stalks are usually cut off, unless particularily tender. Peel the remaining stem. Cut heads into florets. Cook immediately before serving.
Tired of steamed broccoli? Broccoli can also be served raw, possibly with your favourite dip (though blanching/steaming enhances its colour and makes it easier to eat), sautéed, and stir fried.
Sauté Blanch first (drop it in boiling water for a couple minutes). Broccoli is lovely sautéed in olive oil, garlic and toasted pine nuts. Add other vegetables for a more colourful menu.
Microwave More than 90% of vitamin C’s cancer-fighting nutrients remain, since this cooking process heats up the vegetable’s natural water content. Simply stir halfway through to ensure food cooks evenly!
The fibrous stems take longer to cook. Begin with them separately for a few minutes before adding the florets.
- For quicker cooking, make lengthwise slits in the stems.
- After cooking, drain and rinse immediately with cold water to capture the colour and develop great flavour.
- While people do not generally eat the leaves, they are perfectly edible and contain concentrated amounts of nutrients.
- To gain the most nutritional benefit from cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, and greens like spinach, cook them lightly!
The quantity of vitamin C in broccoli equals an orange with almost as much calcium as milk. In addition, broccoli comprises the phytonutrients sulforaphane and the indoles. So, yes, it is a cancer fighter.
Bok choy, 3 oz. (85g)
Total Fat: 0.18g
- Boiling or steaming depletes the vitamin C stores in broccoli by 34% and 22% respectively.
Boiling for typical time periods results in the following:
a loss of 56% of the folate in broccoli
a loss of 51% of the folate in spinach
only minimal folate loss in potatoes.
Steaming spinach or broccoli causes no significant loss of folate.