That green vegetable that vaguely resembles a miniature tree. As a kid myself and my brother use to pretend we were massive giants eating forests off our dinner plate. Whatever works I guess?
Broccoli is closely related to cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale and cauliflower, collectively referred to as cruciferous vegetables.
So what exactly is a cruciferous vegetable?
Cruciferous veggies are a diverse group that includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy, arugula/rocket, Brussels sprouts, collards, turnips, watercress and radishes.
Most cruciferous veggies are rich in vitamins and minerals such as folate and vitamin K. Dark green cruciferous veggies also are an excellent source of vitamins A and C. They’re also rich in phytonutrients , which are plant-based compounds that may help to lower inflammation and reduce the risk of developing cancer. Cruciferous vegetables are also rich in fibre and low in calories, a combination that will help you feel full and satisfied without overeating. Every women’s dream!
Here’s a fun fact: The name “cruciferous” is a classification for members of the mustard family and comes from the Latin cruciferae meaning “crucifix” because the four petals resemble a cross.
Interesting enough did you know there are three main varieties of broccoli?
- Calabrese broccoli (most common)
- Sprouting broccoli
- Purple cauliflower — despite its name a type of broccoli
When it comes to eating this amazing vegetable, different cooking methods, such as boiling, microwaving, stir-frying and steaming, alter the vegetable’s nutrient composition, particularly reducing vitamin C, as well as soluble protein and sugars. Steaming appears to have the fewest negative effects, preserving the most of its original nutrients.
I personally think perfectly cooked broccoli should be an appetizing bright green, tender but firm texture. Not mushy cooked to an inch of its life where there is more nutrients left in the water it’s cooked in than the vegetable itself. Top tip to avoid overcooking, uncover once it’s done and serve right away. You can also plunge it into an ice bath to stop the cooking, this will preserve the colour, flavour, and nutrients.
Now here’s an interesting side note, did you know you can eat more of the broccoli plant than just the tree top florets? Yep sure can. Don’t ditch the stalks. Just give the rough woody parts a quick peel with a potato peeler. Then keep on peeling the tender parts of the stalks into raw salads. Or slice the stalks into little coins and stir-fry or roast them in a little oil, or throw them in your juicer or next smoothie.
Here are my favourite ways to cook this beloved vegetable.
How to Steam Broccoli
If you have a double saucepan, one with holes at the bottom to let up the steam. Add about an inch of water to the bottom pan and bring the water to a boil. Add cut broccoli florets and peeled, sliced rings of broccoli stalks to the basket and steam, covered, for just 3 to 5 minutes. If you like softer broccoli, let it go for a few minutes more. Steamed broccoli may be one of the healthiest ways to cook broccoli because it’s quick and nutrients and vitamins won’t be lost in the cooking water, as can be the case with boiled broccoli.
For my recipe click the following link: Broccoli and Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing
How to Stir-Fry or Sauté Broccoli
Broccoli takes very well to quick-cooking techniques like sautéing or stir-frying. Heat a little coconut oil in a frying pan or wok over high heat, and add cut broccoli florets and peeled, sliced rings of broccoli stalks, stirring and cooking for just 4 or 5 minutes.
Here’s another way to sauté broccoli. Treat it like fried rice! That’s right, it’s Broccoli Rice. To make it, pulse raw broccoli florets in a food processor until the broccoli looks like grains of rice. Then sauté it in a fry pan like fried rice. Broccoli rice is amazing, low-carb replacement for white rice.
How to Roast Broccoli
How to cook broccoli in the oven. Toss cut broccoli with olive oil and a pinch of salt, and spread the broccoli out in a single layer on a baking dish pre-heated in 180-degree oven. The broccoli should sizzle when it hits the pan. Roast the broccoli until tender and a little browned at the edges. Really yummy.
Bake Broccoli in a Casserole
Adding broccoli to casseroles is a great way to sneak something healthy and green into weeknight meals. Sssshh don’t tell the kids, or the husband for that matter.
Eat Broccoli Raw
Forget the chips. Broccoli’s the smart choice for scooping up dips. And uncooked broccoli also adds exciting crunch to raw salads.
Let me know how you guys like to consume this cruciferous super veg.