Broccoli should be given super food status. From its stalk to its flowering head, it is packed with nutrients and vitamins and is high in antioxidants.
Broccoli belongs to the cabbage family and is said to originate from Italy about 2000 years ago. It is easy to cook and delicious raw, plus it pairs well with every herb-infused oil, sauce, cheese, and butter.
While its flowering head is commonly recognized and called for in a variety of meals, the entire vegetable – including stalk and leaves – can be eaten. Leaves and stalk are lesser-enjoyed parts of broccoli because gardeners and farmers often discard these pieces at harvest as do home and restaurant cooks on preparation. Both edible and highly nutritious though.
The crowning head is called “the curd” in some cultures. It is made of small, dense floral shoots and is harvested long before the shoots open or flower.
Broccoli leaves can be long and thin or short and wide and grow along the stalk. They are often blue-green in color and thicken towards the head of the plant. We cook and serve the leaves along with the rest of the broccoli.
The stock of a broccoli plant can be thick and woody. The inner stalk is tender and juicy.
Broccoli’s Nutritional Value
Broccoli offers more than antioxidants that boost your body’s immune system. It is also a good source of vitamin C.
Broccoli is low in carbohydrates.
Other nutrients found in broccoli include: B vitamins, Thiamine, Niacin, Riboflavin and Folate.
With Traces of: calcium, iron, potassium, and phosphorous.
Fiber: The high fiber aspect of broccoli supports heart health, helps lower bad cholesterol and healthy weight management (filling, low in carbs, low in calories).
How To Cook or Serve Broccoli
As stated above, broccoli can be eaten raw or cooked. You can steam, boil, microwave, stir-fry, roast and even barbeque broccoli. Only cook to al dente (slightly tender) however, or you’ll be losing out on the anti-carcinogenic compounds and other vital nutrients.
While many home cooks throw away the stalk of the plant, we chop and add it to soup stocks or peel the stalk to eat raw. On its own it is a delicious snack, but can also be julienned and added to a fresh salad. Broccoli slaw (made just like cole slaw) is delicious!
At the grocery store or Farmer’s Market you can buy enough broccoli to eat every day of the week without blowing your grocery budget or getting bored. Have a side of broccoli at dinner, a chopped broccoli salad for lunch, add broccoli to your morning omelet, or snack on it throughout the day.
Finally, if you like juicing your vegetables, remember that you can use the whole vegetable (stems, leaves and heads). It tastes great when added to any leafy green, a little fresh apple or berries, some cucumber, and a generous squeeze of fresh lime.