Broccoli: Superhero of Vegetables

Topics: Wellness and Health

Shaped like green mini-trees, broccoli is a true dietary powerhouse, full of nutrients beneficial for digestion, heart health, and the immune system. High in fiber and vitamin C, broccoli is a good source for potassium, vitamin A, and B6. Research has established that these nutrients, along with other compounds in broccoli, have anti-inflammatory, and cancer-preventing properties.

Broccoli is packed with phytochemicals and antioxidants. These amazing substances influence cancer-fighting activity within our bodies, such as stimulating the immune system, stopping substances we breathe or eat from becoming carcinogens, reducing inflammation that makes cancer growth more likely, and even slowing the growth rate of cancer cells.

Broccoli’s secret weapon is two chemicals: sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol (I3C). These chemicals boost the body’s ability to detoxify, help moderate estrogen levels, and have been shown to slow the progression of tumors.

It’s easy to add broccoli to your diet because you can enjoy it raw, steamed, in stir-fry, soups, slaws, and even in a green smoothie. A serving is one cup; aim for two to three servings per week.

Purchasing tips: Choose organic broccoli florets that are uniformly colored (dark green, sage or purple-green, depending upon variety) and with no yellowing. Store in a plastic bag, with no extra air trapped inside, in the fridge for up to a week.

Broccoli with Orecchiette
Pungent garlic and spicy red pepper are balanced by the light sweetness of green broccoli in this dish (omit the Parmigiano-Reggiano to make vegan). It also makes for a wonderful side dish with the fish of your choice.

Ingredients
5 garlic cloves
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 (10-ounces) packages frozen chopped broccoli (do not thaw)
1 cup water
1/4 tsp hot red-pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus additional for serving
1 pound dried orecchiette pasta
2 Tbsp salt

Preparation

  1. Finely chop garlic.
  2. Cook garlic in oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, but not brown.
  3. Add broccoli, water, red-pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until broccoli is tender and almost all of liquid has evaporated, 12 to 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, cook orecchiette in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 Tbs salt for 6 quarts water) until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta.
  5. Toss pasta with broccoli, cheese and 1/2 cup reserved cooking water. Season with salt; thin sauce with more cooking water if desired. Serve with extra cheese for sprinkling.