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Broccoli 101 The Basics

Broccoli 101 – The Basics

Broccoli is one of the most healthful vegetables one can eat. Yet, many people don’t like it, usually because of an experience when they were young and having to eat it when it was grossly overcooked. You can’t blame them for their feelings. When broccoli is overcooked, the sulfur compounds are released, making the house stink, and giving the vegetable a VERY strong flavor! If you’re in that camp, I urge you to give it a second try. Just don’t overcook it!

Below is a video where I discuss a lot of information about broccoli including how to cook it without that strong taste that most of us don’t like. Below the video are my discussion notes. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!

Broccoli 101 – The Basics

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, so it is related to cabbage, kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Vegetables in this family have many health benefits. It is among foods referred to as “super veggies.” It has anti-cancer properties, helps build and support body tissue and bones, is packed with antioxidants that help prevent cell damage, helps to reduce inflammation, helps control blood sugar due to its fiber content, supports heart health by lowering cholesterol and triglycerides, promotes healthy digestion, supports healthy brain and nervous tissue function, supports a healthy immune system, may slow the aging process, supports oral health, and MORE. (See link below.) Broccoli gets its name from the Italian word “broccolo” which means “cabbage sprout.”

Healthline.com newsletter “Top 14 Health Benefits of Broccoli” … https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-broccoli

Nutrition Tidbits
Broccoli is high in many nutrients, including fiber, some B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron and potassium. It is a good source of beta-carotene. One cup of cooked broccoli has as much vitamin C as an orange! Broccoli also contains more protein than most other vegetables. It is very low in calories, with only 31 calories in one cup.

Broccoli is high in sulforaphane (among other important compounds), a type of isothiocyanate, which is known to have anticancer effects. If for no other reason, this is one very important reason to include broccoli in your meals on a regular basis. The compound is found in greater concentrations in young broccoli sprouts than in the fully mature broccoli plant. So, if you have not tried growing your own broccoli sprouts, I urge you to try it! The sprouts are a delicious addition to any leafy green salad.

Cruciferous vegetables are SO important for our health that I’ve included some links where Dr. Michael Greger reviews medical scientific literature showing the benefits of eating broccoli and/or broccoli sprouts. This is just a tidbit of videos he has released demonstrating the value of including more fruits and vegetables into our diet. See also Dr. Greger’s website at https://nutritionfacts.org

Sulforaphane: From Broccoli to Breast … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ImlLsub2Ok&index=4&list=PL5TLzNi5fYd-F_FykNwDqtfb689heDUT1

Lung Cancer Metastases and Broccoli … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fqbbc5ZvATQ&index=6&list=PL5TLzNi5fYd-F_FykNwDqtfb689heDUT1

Best Food to Counter the Effects of Air Pollution … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fqbbc5ZvATQ&index=6&list=PL5TLzNi5fYd-F_FykNwDqtfb689heDUT1

Which Fruits and Vegetables Boost DNA Repair? … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSDedXTsQkE&index=10&list=PL5TLzNi5fYd-F_FykNwDqtfb689heDUT1

Breast Cancer Survival Vegetable … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mIC_OKOjIQ&list=PL5TLzNi5fYd-F_FykNwDqtfb689heDUT1&index=3

How to Select Broccoli
Look for bright green heads of broccoli with tightly clustered florets. The more open the florets, the older the broccoli is. Look for firm, strong stalks (flimsy stalks that bend are older and becoming dehydrated). It should feel heavy for its size.

How to Store and Preserve Broccoli
Store fresh broccoli in the refrigerator and use it as soon as possible. It may be stored by misting the heads and wrapping them up loosely in paper towels or a cloth then placing that in a plastic bag to hold in the humidity. Use within 2 or 3 days.

To freeze fresh broccoli it needs to be washed and blanched in boiling water for 3 minutes or steamed for 5 minutes. Immediately cool it in a bowl of ice water, then drain it well and pack into freezer containers or bags. It will keep well for about 12 months in the freezer.

Dehydrating: Broccoli florets may be dehydrated. The stems may remain a bit tough with dehydration, so it is only recommended to dehydrate the florets. Blanch and cool them as above, then drain well. Follow the dehydrator manufacturer’s directions for the length of time and temperature for proper dehydration with your machine.

How to Prepare Fresh Broccoli
Wash fresh broccoli well right before using it. If it has started to get limp (dehydrated), soak it in water for 10 minutes to crisp it back up.

The stalks are often cut off and discarded. That’s a shame because they are just as edible and delicious as the rest of the broccoli. With a sharp knife, cut off (and discard) the very bottom end where the stem was originally cut from the plant. The woody outer layer of the stem can be trimmed off with a paring knife or a vegetable peeler. Once that is removed, the inner part of the stalk is very similar to the stalks attached to the floret tops. Why not eat them?

Fresh vs Frozen Broccoli
Fresh: Fresh broccoli is usually available in most grocery stores. This is an excellent way to purchase the vegetable, nutritionally speaking, as long as the stalks do not show signs of age.

Fresh Broccoli Eaten Raw: Raw broccoli contains the most nutrients and anti-cancer agents that the plant has to offer. When eaten in the raw state, we do absorb many of them. Some people have problems digesting raw broccoli, causing gas and bloating. If this happens to you, try cooking your broccoli in some way…steaming, boiling, roasting, etc.

Fresh Broccoli Eaten When Steamed: According to Dr. Michael Greger and research he covers in the following video, we actually absorb more of the anti-cancer nutrients in broccoli when it is lightly steamed. Apparently the (brief) steaming process makes the nutrients more available to the body. See his video at …

Raw vs. Cooked Broccoli … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaY6TS9yxIY

Dr. Michael Greger explains in the following video, a good way to help maximize your intake of the anti-cancer compounds in fresh broccoli. It’s a simple strategy of cutting/chopping the broccoli, then waiting 40 minutes before actually cooking it. See his video at …

Second Strategy for Cooking Broccoli … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsN8x0BWcyE

To steam fresh broccoli, cut into medium or small size pieces, place it in a steaming basket above boiling water and steam it up to 4 minutes. To get a boost of sulforaphane with the steamed broccoli, pair it with a raw source of enzymes that will produce the sulforaphane compound, such as horseradish, red radish, mustard, cauliflower, and/or arugula.

Frozen: Frozen vegetables are a great convenience to those with a time crunch in the kitchen. The vegetables are usually processed shortly after being harvested which helps to retain a lot of their nutritional value (over fresh vegetables that have aged before being purchased). According to Prevention (https://www.prevention.com/food-nutrition/healthy-eating/a20457091/what-your-frozen-broccoli-is-missing/), the freezing process (briefly boiling the broccoli to blanch it) actually destroys the anti-cancer compounds in the vegetable. So we have a “catch-22” problem here, if you’re comparing convenience with nutritional aspects of broccoli. The choice is yours on which way to go. Perhaps include frozen broccoli at times when time is an issue and raw or steamed during other times.

Dr. Michael Greger uncovered a way (via scientific literature) to add enzymes to cooked broccoli that will help restore the development of anti-cancer compounds in broccoli. Simple mustard powder can do the trick! See his short video where he explains this trick…
Second Strategy to Cooking Broccoli … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsN8x0BWcyE

How is it usually eaten…raw or cooked?
Over the years, broccoli has typically been eaten cooked…and over-cooked for sure. Today, we’re learning that less cooking is best when eating vegetables. This is also true with broccoli. Not only does less cooking help to preserve nutrients, but it certainly makes them more enjoyable with a better flavor and texture. Most people prefer “crisp-tender” over “mush” any day! Also, less cooking prevents the release of the sulfur odor and flavor that comes with overly cooked broccoli. So, more and more people are enjoying this fabulously healthy vegetable lightly cooked or even raw.

Broccoli can be boiled, steamed, roasted, baked, sautéed, stir-fried, stir-steamed, put in a casserole, added to soups and salads, and enjoyed raw. So, it’s extremely versatile and well worth trying in a variety of ways to incorporate more if it into your meals!

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Broccoli
Some suggested flavorings for broccoli include: basil, cilantro, curry powder, dill, garlic, ginger, lemon, marjoram, mustard, nutmeg, parsley, oregano, sage, tarragon and thyme.

The website https://Athleanx.com has a wonderful list of suggestions on what to serve with broccoli. They all sound good to me! Check it out at … https://athleanx.com/for-women/10-new-ways-to-make-broccoli-taste-awesome

Other Foods That Go Well With Broccoli
Cheddar cheese, onions, bacon, pasta, chicken, ham, bell peppers, cauliflower, hot peppers, leeks, lemon, lime, mushrooms, olives, orange, potatoes, salads, scallions, chives, shallots, spinach, squash, tomatoes

Also: almonds, butter, cashews, cheese (feta, cheddar, goat, Parmesan, etc.), coconut milk, eggs, pesto, soy sauce, tahini, tamari, vinaigrette, vinegar, wine, and yogurt

Recipe links
Judi in the Kitchen video, How to Blanch Broccoli … https://youtu.be/RdLuEKq5wtw

Judi in the Kitchen video, Cook Frozen Broccoli (Not Mushy) … https://youtu.be/Ig6CeSmgU0c

Judi in the Kitchen video, Simple Mustard Sauce for Broccoli … https://youtu.be/WkZecLPx8Og

Judi in the Kitchen video, Marinated Cruciferous Salad … https://youtu.be/-8wQitQtnvo

Judi in the Kitchen video, Easily Cut Fresh Broccoli with Less Mess … https://youtu.be/mKX8jfNl5IM

Judi in the Kitchen video, How to Steam Broccoli … https://youtu.be/adqpjc_OJIg

Dairy Council of California, assorted broccoli recipes at … https://www.healthyeating.org/Healthy-Eating/Meals-Recipes/Browse-Search-Recipes/kWord/broccoli

Roasted Garlic Lemon Broccoli … https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/144346/roasted-garlic-lemon-broccoli/

“Seriously The Best Broccoli of Your Life” … https://www.errenskitchen.com/seriously-best-broccoli-life/

Caramelized Broccoli with Garlic … https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/caramelized-broccoli-garlic

Assorted Broccoli Recipes from Bon Appetit Magazine … https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/broccoli-recipes

Better Broccoli Casserole … https://cookieandkate.com/2016/better-broccoli-casserole-recipe/