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Veggie Profile: Broccoli

Posted Jun 04 2010 1:03pm
Broccoli is considered one of the most healthful vegetables available. It's chock full of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial nutrients.

Broccoli is an excellent source of the vitamins K, C, and A, as well as folate and fiber. Broccoli is a very good source of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and the vitamins B6 and E.

Broccoli contains several different phytochemicals which have anti-cancer properties. Broccoli also contains the carotenoid, lutein, which has antioxidant properties and has been linked to promoting healthy vision through reducing the risk of macular degeneration.

As a member of the cabbage family, broccoli is closely related to cauliflower. Broccoli provides a range of tastes and textures, from soft and flowery (the floret) to fibrous and crunchy (the stem and stalk). Broccoli slaw and broccoli sprouts are other 'alternative' products that you may find in your local food store.

Packaged frozen broccoli differs nutritionally from fresh. The florets are higher beta-carotene than the stalks. Since food manufactures usually trim off most of the stalk before packaging, frozen broccoli may contain 35% more beta-carotene by weight than fresh. Broccoli eaten raw has higher amounts of nutrients compared with cooked varieties of broccoli. Cooking broccoli causes its cell walls to break down and release nutrients.

How to choose and store your broccoli:

Choose broccoli with floret clusters that are compact and unbruised. They should be uniformly colored, either dark green, sage or purple-green, depending upon variety, Avoid any broccoli florets that show signs of yellowing. The stalk and stems should be firm.

Broccoli is very perishable and should be stored in open plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer where it will keep for a week. Don't wash broccoli before refrigerating because water on the surface will encourage its degradation. Broccoli's life can be extended up to a year if it is blanched and then frozen.

Serving Ideas:

1. Lightly saute broccoli and add to your favorite omelet dish.
2. Add lightly sauted broccoli to a bowl of tomato soup.
3. Add lightly steamed broccoli on top of your pizza.
4. Create a stir fry of broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini, and top whole wheat pasta for a healthier version of pasta primavera.
5. Use raw broccoli along with carrots, celery, and cucumber and serve with a dip made of 0% greek yogurt and onion soup mix or fresh herbs.
6. Steam broccoli and then sprinkle with lemon juice and sesame seeds.
7. Puree cooked broccoli to make soup.

Submit any broccoli serving ideas that you may have!

You can get more information on broccoli and its health benefits here http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov/month/broccoli.html
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