Broccoli belongs to the Brassica vegetable family, which includes other flowering vegies, such as cauliflower and cabbage.
This vegetable is bursting with vitamin C, which is essential to the development and repair of the body’s tissues. It also contains beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. Both of these antioxidant vitamins help combat infection in the body.
This versatile vegie is a top source of fibre, which benefits bowel health, and folate, which is essential to healthy blood-cell production. Broccoli provides potassium, too, along with small amounts of iron and calcium.
Broccoli’s phytonutrients can help protect us from chronic diseases. In fact, studies show that regularly eating plenty of these little green trees can help prevent heart disease. Broccoli is also abundant in sulforaphane, a compound that can inhibit the growth of certain cancers.
Pick the best
Choose bright-green heads that have compact clusters of florets and firm stems. Leave limp or yellowing heads on the store shelf. Store broccoli in an airtight container or plastic bag in the fridge for up to five days. This vegetable keeps best when it’s dry, so don’t rinse it until you’re ready to eat it.
Three tasty ways with broccoli
For a fresh side: Toss steamed florets in olive oil with 1 or 2 chopped garlic cloves, lemon zest and slivered almonds. (Try this with 1/4 teaspoon finely chopped chilli and a handful of pine nuts, too.) To make it a meal, add orecchiette (or any cooked short pasta) and combine well. Top dish with grated parmesan and chopped flat-leaf parsley.
To make a quick soup: Fry 1 chopped onion and 2 garlic cloves in olive oil. Add florets from 1kg broccoli, 3 cups reduced-salt stock and 3 cups water. Simmer until broccoli is tender. Purée and season with black pepper. Top with toasted hazelnuts, chopped chives and a dollop of low-fat natural yoghurt.
For a tasty pasta sauce: Cook broccoli with sliced asparagus and mushrooms. Add a little Philadelphia Extra Light Cream for Cooking and toasted slivered almonds. Season with black pepper. Combine sauce, cooked pasta and chicken breast. Top pasta with shaved parmesan.
Did you know? Half a cup of cooked broccoli counts as one serve of vegies and has only 66kJ (16cal)!