Eat Your Broccoli

I would like to take some time this week to highlight one of the best foods that I know. Broccoli! Now I know that most people learn from a young age to dislike this veggie but it is so good for you and such a versatile ingredient that I just don’t understand it. Sure I didn’t like it as a kid either but I think that comes more from the rebellious spirit ignited by the oft used phrase “Eat Your Broccoli!” than from any real aversion to it. Let’s explore why this vegetable is so great and what we can do to incorporate it into our diets more.

This dark green cruciferous veggie is one of the best sources of nutrients we could ever get our hands on. It is a wonderful source of almost all the minerals, vitamins, and proteins we need. One cup of raw broccoli contains more than our entire daily recommended minimum of Vitamin C, and all the Vitamin K. In fact, the only thing it’s really missing is Vitamin D. Research has even shown that broccoli may contain phytonutrients that help to fight and prevent different types of cancer.

Aside from providing amazing nutrient values and possible cancer fighting powers broccoli also gives us a great helping of fibre which helps to regulate our hunger signals, digestion speed, bowel movements, and intestinal bacteria. Fibre is an important part of our diets and most of us don’t get enough.

The main problem that people seem to have with broccoli is that it isn’t a very interesting veggie in terms of flavour or texture. Well, I want to tell you that there is so much that we can do with that in the kitchen that we don’t need to need to give up on this little green friend. Broccoli, when cooked, is extremely good at carrying the flavours of the things around it. If we combine it in dishes with foods that have stronger flavours like fruits, herbs, and sauces, the broccoli will absorb this flavour and spread it throughout the dish. Broccoli makes an excellent filler in larger dishes to bulk them up and add a big boast of nutrient value to your meal.

For the optimal broccoli dish, you should cook it until there is just a little bit of white left in the cut ends of the stems. This way the broccoli will be soft but still have just that little bit of crunch to it. This will avoid the mushy texture of over cooked broccoli and the really hard crunch of raw broccoli.

One last tip. It’s not only the florets (leafy/flowery bits at the top) that we can use in cooking. A lot of the fibre content is found in the stalks of the veggie. We can get all the nutrients housed in the stalks be adding them to soups but my favourite use is a little more creative. Take the stalks and shred them and add them to thick sauces or stews like chili or pasta sauce (stir-frys are great too) and the small bit of the tough stalk will cook completely and just bend in with the rest of the meal giving you that amazing nutritional value while going unnoticed in the dish.

So there are many ways that we can use broccoli in our food without trying to “just eat it”. My advice is to get creative and try different things. You may find that you secretly loved broccoli all along and just didn’t know it. This amazing superfood should always have a place in our fridges and stomachs.

I’ve found a few recipes to start you off in your adventures with broccoli. If you find more in your travels definitely leave them in the comments below for everyone to enjoy.
-Broccoli with Garlic Butter and Cashews
-Roasted Garlic Lemon Broccoli
-Broccoli and Rice Stir-Fry
-Broccoli Marinara
-Sesame Broccoli
-Roasted Sage Broccoli

Thanks for reading and happy cooking.
Dr. Ben

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