Broccoli (Brassica oleracea italica) has been cultivated for over 2000 years. It is said to have been developed from the cabbage by the ancient Etruscans of the Eastern Mediterranean region. Broccoli only reached France around the 16th Century, and spread throughout Europe and the US around the 18th Century. It is only in recent years that it has not only been recognised as versatile vegetable but also appreciated for it's excellent health benefits. Broccoli is actually an edible flower and not a true vegetable..
It contains excellent amounts of dietary fibre, vitamins A, C and K, folate and beta-carotene. Broccoli also contains a very good amount of manganese, tryptophan, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and vitamins B2 and B6. It has a good amount of calcium, one cup cooked broccoli contains 71.8 mg of calcium. Broccoli contains lesser amounts of most vitamins, minerals and aminos.
Health wise the folate is needed for the normal growth of the tissue and is good for pregnant women. The vitamin C, which is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, helps prevent colds and aids with absorption of it's iron content. Broccoli also contains the phytonutrients indoles and isothiocyanates, which many studies have linked to cancer prevention.. It is also one of the few vegetables that contain cysteine and helps when there is a need, mainly with infants and the elderly, to augment l-cysteine levels in the body and help them, when required, to absorb nutrients from food. L-cysteine is also required by the body for collagen production and assisting in skin elasticity and texture. Broccoli is also useful in cataract prevention.
Steamed broccoli is said to provide special cholesterol-lowering benefits. When steamed the dietary fibre binds together with bile acids in the digestive tract making it easier for bile acids to be excreted, and the result is the lowering of cholesterol levels. Raw broccoli still has cholesterol-lowering ability just not as much. Another broccoli benefit is that good supplies of vitamin A and K help keep our vitamin D metabolism in balance.
Note : Raw broccoli and broccoli sprouts have been said to contain natural substances that can interfere with problem thyroids, resulting in goiters. Cooking has been reported to inactivate this effect.
When purchasing broccoli select bright to dark green heads which have compact clusters of tightly closed flowerets. Stalks and stem leaves should be tender yet firm. Look carefully at the cut ends of the broccoli stalks and make sure they are closed. Open ended stalks tend to be older and tougher. Frozen broccoli is also good. It normally contains only the florets which are richer in beta-carotene than the stalks. The downside is that it has twice as much sodium, half as much calcium and far less vitamin C as fresh broccoli..
When storing broccoli, never wash beforehand, keep dry. Store in a vented plastic bag or container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Another method is to submerge the stem in a bowl filled with ice water. Cover the broccoli heads with a plastic bag, and change the ice water daily for up to 3 days. Wash broccoli thoroughly just before using. Trim the tough portion of the stem about one inch from the bottom and chop for use. Do not overcook broccoli as it will not taste good and your kitchen will stink.
Serve raw in smoothies and salads, lightly steamed for 4 to 5 minutes, or stir fried. Once steamed can be blended for sauces or soups. Enjoy!
Steamed Broccoli with Almonds, Lemon Zest, and Red Pepper Flakes
From Whole Living
1 head broccoli, broken into florets, stems chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 to 2 tsps extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsps slivered almonds, toasted
zest of 1/2 lemon
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Place a steamer basket in a saucepan filled with 1 inch water. Bring to a boil. Add broccoli. Cover, and cook until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and add almonds, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes; toss to combine. Serve immediately. Serves 4
Quick & EasyBroccoli Salad (Rawfood)
Recipe by Danielle. From the Aug 2010 4 Health Inc Newsletter
5 cups of shredded broccoli (I stuck mine in the VitaMix for a few minutes and let it get chopped up... quick and easy ~ Danielle)
1 cup of onions (optional)
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup of chopped tomatoes
2 tsps dill (or a handful of fresh dill)
1/4 cup flax seeds
1 cup of raw brazil nuts (soaked)
3 tbsps of maple syrup
1/4 cup of water
sprinkle of celtic salt (or other sea salt)
In a high speed blender or food processor, combine all of the ingredients for the dressing. It should come out nice and creamy. Mix together all of the other ingredients. Add the dressing and mix. Simply enjoy.
From the Vegetarian Times
The secret to this recipe is double-frying the tofu cubes to give them an extra-crisp exterior. This recipe was a winner in their 2008 Restaurant Poll, and is a popular entrée at The Grit in Athens, Georgia.
2 tbsps vegetable oil, divided
15oz/425g extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 tsps low-sodium soy sauce, plus more to taste
2 cups steamed broccoli
8oz/227g sliced mushrooms
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup diced yellow bell pepper
1 cup sliced yellow squash
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
1/2 cup grated carrots
2 tbsps nutritional yeast, or more to taste
2 cups cooked brown rice
Heat 1 tbsp oil in large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add tofu, and sauté 10 to 15 minutes, tossing with spatula, until light golden brown all over. Sprinkle with soy sauce, and sauté 2 to 3 minutes more to further brown tofu. Transfer tofu to paper-towel-lined plate. Drain and rinse skillet, and wipe dry. Heat remaining 1 Tbs. oil over high heat. Add tofu and all vegetables. Sauté 5 to 7 minutes, or until tofu is browned and vegetables are tender, tossing constantly with spatula. Sprinkle with soy sauce to taste. Sprinkle nutritional yeast over tofu to coat. Sauté a few seconds more. Remove from heat. Serve over brown rice. Serves 4.
Broccoli with Onions and Pine Nuts
From Mother Earth News
3 tbsps pine nuts, or chopped, slivered almonds
2 tsps extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion, (about 1 medium)
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
4 cups broccoli florets
2 tsps balsamic vinegar
freshly ground pepper, to taste
Toast pine nuts (or almonds) in a medium dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until lightly browned and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl to cool. Add oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add onion and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, adjusting heat as necessary, until soft and golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, steam broccoli until just tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the nuts, onion, vinegar and pepper; toss to coat. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings, 3/4 cup each.
Squash, Broccoli and Barley Salad
Recipe by Jennifer Joyce From BBC Good Food
A flavour-packed, unusual salad that's delicious warm or cold.
1 butternut squash , peeled and cut into long pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
250g/9oz pearl barley
300g/ 10.5oz Tenderstem broccoli , cut into medium-size pieces
100g/3.5oz SunBlush tomatoes , sliced
1 small red onion , diced
2 tbsps pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp small capers , rinsed
15 black olives , pitted
20g/4tsps pack basil , chopped
5 tbsps balsamic vinegar
6 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove , finely chopped
Heat oven to 200C/392F/gas 6. Place the squash on a baking tray and toss with olive oil. Roast for 20 mins. Meanwhile, boil the barley for about 25 mins in salted water until tender, but al dente. While this is happening, whisk the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, then season with salt and pepper. Drain the barley, then tip it into a bowl and pour over the dressing. Mix well and let it cool. Boil the broccoli in salted water until just tender, then drain and rinse in cold water. Drain and pat dry. Add the broccoli and remaining ingredients to the barley and mix well. This will keep for 3 days in the fridge and is delicious warm or cold.