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A Giant of a Green
By Chelsea Fisher
Broccoli has enjoyed its fair share of fame in the anti-cancer spotlight. According to the American Cancer Society broccoli is high in folic acid, vitamins C and K, and fiber. It’s also one of the richest vegetable sources of calcium, iron, and magnesium.
The cruciferous veggie also contains sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol, which have been researched for their ability to combat breast and prostate cancer. None of these studies have been conclusively proven in humans, but the evidence certainly suggests it’s better to actually eat broccoli than pass it to the dog under the table — a tactic perfected by many a broccoli-boycotting children.
Broccoli provides vitamin B6, folate, potassium, and manganese, as well as dietary fiber and some protein. Though the florets contain the most nutrition, including most of the above-mentioned phytochemicals, the stalk holds fiber and folate so slice that up and toss it into your steamer.
Broccoli should feel heavy for its size and have tight, blue-green florets. The stalk should be firm and fresh. Avoid buying broccoli with any brown or yellow spots. Boiling broccoli can be necessary for those trying to get rid of microbes, but according to the American Institute for Cancer Research, this method can eliminate some of the veggie’s good vitamins and compounds. Blanching for 3 to 5 minutes in boiling water is a good option. It requires less time in hot water, yet enough time to kill most microbes. Other gentle cooking options are stir-frying and steaming.
For a simple and antioxidant-rich meal try Cook For Your Life’s Chopped Steamed Winter Vegetable Salad, in which broccoli joins fennel, cauliflower, and apple, among many others in a sesame rémoulade with slivered almonds and sunflower seeds. The florets can also be tossed in olive oil with salt and pepper and roasted at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. Squeeze on lemon juice as a final touch.
To use the broccoli stems when steaming or stir-frying, thinly slice or julienne the stems and, depending on their size, cook them for around 3 to 5 minutes before adding the florets.