Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family, and is closely related to cauliflower. Its cultivation originated in Italy. Broccolo, its Italian name, means "cabbage sprout." Broccoli's name is derived from the Latin word brachium, which means branch or arm, a reflection of its tree-like shape that features a compact head of florets attached by small stems to a larger stalk. Because of its different components, this vegetable provides a complex of tastes and textures, ranging from soft and flowery (the florets) to fibrous and crunchy (the stem and stalk). Its color can range from deep sage to dark green to purplish-green, depending upon the variety. One of the most popular types of broccoli sold in North America is known as Italian green, or Calabrese, named after the Italian province of Calabria where it first grew.
Broccoli has its roots in Italy. In ancient Roman times, it was developed from wild cabbage, a plant that more resembles collards than broccoli. It spread through out the Near East where it was appreciated for its edible flower heads and was subsequently brought back to Italy where it was further cultivated. Broccoli was introduced to the United States in colonial times, popularized by Italian immigrants who brought this prized vegetable with them to the New World.
Place broccoli in a plastic bag, removing as much of the air from the bag as possible. Store in the refrigerator where it will keep for 10 days. Do not wash broccoli before storing because exposure to water encourages spoilage. Partial heads of broccoli should be placed in a well-sealed container or plastic bag and refrigerated. Since the vitamin C content starts to quickly degrade once broccoli has been cut, it is best to use it within a couple of days. Broccoli that has been blanched and then frozen can stay up to a year. Leftover cooked broccoli should be placed in tightly covered container and stored in the refrigerator where it will keep for a few days.
9 Health Benefits of Broccoli (as per care2.com)
1. Cancer Prevention
Broccoli contains glucoraphanin, which the body processes into the anti-cancer compound sulforaphane. This compound rids the body of H. pylori, a bacterium found to highly increase the risk of gastric cancer. Furthermore, broccoli contains indole-3-carbinol, a powerful antioxidant compound and anti-carcinogen found to not only hinder the growth of breast, cervical and prostate cancer, but also boosts liver function.
Broccoli shares these cancer fighting, immune boosting properties with other cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.
2. Cholesterol Reduction
Like many whole foods, broccoli is packed with soluble fiber that draws cholesterol out of your body.
3. Reducing Allergy Reaction and Inflammation
Broccoli is a particularly rich source of kaempferol and isothiocyanates, both anti-inflammatory phyto nutrients. Research has shown the ability of kaempferol to lessen the impact of allergy-related substances on our body. Broccoli even has significant amounts of omega 3 fatty acids, which are well know as an anti-inflammatory.
4. Powerful Antioxidant
Of all the cruciferous vegetables, broccoli stands out as the most concentrated source of vitamin C, plus the flavonoids necessary for vitamin C to recycle effectively. Also concentrated in broccoli are the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene, other powerful antioxidants.
5. Bone Health
Broccoli contains high levels of both calcium and vitamin K, both of which are important for bone health and prevention of osteoporosis.
6. Heart Health
The anti-inflammatory properties of sulforaphane, one of the isothiocyanates (ITCs) in broccoli, may be able to prevent (or even reverse) some of the damage to blood vessel linings that can be caused by inflammation due to chronic blood sugar problems.
Glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiin and glucobrassicin are special phytonutrients that support all steps in the body’s detox process, including activation, neutralization and elimination of unwanted contaminants. These three are in the perfect combination in broccoli. Broccoli also contains isothiocyanates (which you read about in inflammation) which help control the detox process at a genetic level.
8. Diet Aid
Broccoli is a smart carb and is high in fiber, which aids in digestion, prevents constipation, maintains low blood sugar, and curbs overeating. Furthermore, a cup of broccoli has as much protein as a cup of rice or corn with half the calories.
9. Alkalizes Your Body
Like many vegetables, broccoli helps keep your whole body less acidic, which has a host of health benefits.
Summer Fresh Sesame Broccoli
*So simple! :)
- 3 cups broccoli florets
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds (toasted)
Preheat oven to 450*.
Spread florets on baking sheet, drizzle oil over and toss to spread evenly.
Roast for 20 minutes (browned).
Toss broccoli with remaining ingredients.
HOW TO TOAST SESAME SEEDS: place seeds in a metal pie plate, placed in oven with broccoli OR toast in a frying pan on the stove top. Watch carefully as they can burn mighty quick and don't taste a bit good like that!
ALTERNATIVES: Toast some slivered almonds with the sesame seeds and add 2-3 T. with the seeds. Yumm-a-licious!
Broccoli Cabbage & Kohlrabi Coleslaw with Quinoa
- 3 1/2 cups mixed shredded broccoli stems, green cabbage and kohlrabi (peel broccoli stems and kohlrabi before shredding) (about 3/4 pound)
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 1/2 teaspoons nigella seeds (optional)
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
- 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese (optional)
1. Toss the shredded vegetables with salt to taste and place in a strainer set over a bowl. Refrigerate and let sit for 45 minutes to an hour. Discard the water that accumulates in the bowl and squeeze the shredded vegetables to extract more water. (Note: If you are on a no-sodium diet, omit this step). Transfer to a bowl and toss with the quinoa, dill and nigella seeds.
2. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the lemon juice, rice vinegar, salt, pepper, Dijon mustard, oil and yogurt. Toss with the shredded vegetables. Add the cottage cheese to the salad and toss, or serve with the cottage cheese spooned on top. Refrigerate in a bowl or in containers until ready to take to work.
Yield: 3 generous servings.
Advance preparation: This will keep for 4 days in the refrigerator.
Broccoli with Cheddar Cheese "Dunk"
- 1 pound broccoli, cut into 1-inch florets with about 2 inches of stem attached
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard mixed with 1/2 tablespoon water
- 6 ounces sharp or mild white cheddar cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
- Kosher salt
- In a large, deep saucepan, bring 1 inch of water to a boil. Fill a steamer basket with the broccoli, add it to the saucepan, cover and steam over high heat until the broccoli is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer the broccoli to a platter.
- Meanwhile, in a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk over moderately high heat for 2 minutes. Add the milk and cream and cook, whisking, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the mustard and cheese and cook over moderately low heat until the cheese is melted. Season the sauce with salt, transfer to a bowl and serve with the broccoli.
Sauteed Broccoli, Tomatoes & Bacon
- 4 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets (approx. 5 cups)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- kosher salt and black pepper
- In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring often, until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
- To the skillet, add the broccoli and tomatoes and cook, tossing often, until the broccoli is tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle with the bacon.