Reinventing Broccoli

woman eating broccoli floret with fork

Broccoli can be a divisive vegetable. Some love it, others, do not.  If you fall into the latter category, here are 3 reasons to try this nutritious crucifer again. If they don’t persuade you, try recreating broccoli with the delicious recipes below.

WHY EAT BROCCOLI?

1. Broccoli Can Help Reduce Risk of Osteoporosis

Broccoli is high in vitamin K and is also a source of calcium. Vitamin K plays a critical role in activating a hormone called osteocalcin. Osteocalcin allows for the binding of calcium to the bone matrix which helps develop and maintain a strong, dense skeleton.

2. Broccoli is Good For the Heart

Broccoli is good for your heart in multiple ways. First off, it is a great source of folate. Folate is required to metabolize the amino acid homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine are an independent risk factor  for heart disease.  Folate is involved in converting damaging homocysteine into innocuous methionine.Heart shaped symbol with cogs and gears - love or cardiology concept

For every 10 calories of broccoli you receive 1 gram of fibre, that is a fantastic ratio. The fibre in broccoli, especially lightly cooked broccoli, binds to our cholesterol-filled bile acids and removes them from our body.  Our liver must, therefore, draw on our existing supply of cholesterol to make more bile. The net result, is that broccoli can lower our cholesterol levels.

Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolates which are sulfur-containing compounds with anti-inflammatory (and anti-cancer) properties. Chronic inflammation is thought to be a causative factor in heart disease.

Finally, broccoli provides a good dose of antioxidants in the form of vitamin C, beta-carotene, other carotenoids, and quercitin. These antioxidants help lower oxidative stress within the body which is another risk factor for heart disease.

3. Broccoli Can Help Regulate Blood Sugar

Broccoli is also an excellent source of chromium. As many as 90% of North Americans may be low in chromium. Chromium enhances the role of insulin in driving blood sugar out of our blood and into our cells.  It may help those with diabetes lower their circulating blood glucose levels.

Low chromium levels can have deleterious effects on the body, such as, increasing blood sugar, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels, thereby raising one’s risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.

So that’s why broccoli is good for us. But who really cares unless it tastes good, right? If you usually avoid this delightful green veggie; I challenge you to try the recipes below and see if I can’t turn you from a broccoli-skeptic into a broccoli-phile.

FOR THE GARLIC LOVERS:

BROCCOLI WITH ANCHOVIES & LOTS OF GARLICphoto (2)

Serves 2 as a main and 4 as a side

  • 1-2 heads of broccoli
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 tin of anchovies
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Red pepper flakes (to taste)

Preparation

Crush garlic and let it rest for 10 minutes. Cut the broccoli into florets and slice the stem. Sauté in pan with olive oil for 2- 3minutes. Add anchovies, garlic and red pepper flakes and stir frequently. Breakdown the anchovies with the back of your spoon. Add a splash of water or white wine to deglaze the pan and cover with lid so broccoli can steam for 2 minutes or until is broccoli tender but not mushy.

If serving as a main course, add a half cup of your favourite whole grain like quinoa, wild rice, millet or lentils also work well in this dish.

FOR THE SPICE LOVER:

BROCCOLI CHICK PEAS & ITALIAN TURKEY SAUSAGES

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 heads broccoli
  • 4 hot Italian turkey sausages
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • ¼ cup of white wine
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup diced canned tomatoes, drained
  • 1-  375 ml can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Chopped flat leaf parsley

Preparation

Cook sausages under grill, turning frequently until cooked through. In the meantime, mince garlic and let rest. Cut the broccoli into florets and slice the stem (leave the last few inches of the stem as it will get very fibrous and woody).

Add olive oil and diced onion to pan and sauté over medium heat until onion becomes translucent, about 2 minutes.  Add crushed garlic and broccoli stirring frequently for 2 minutes. Add white wine and tomatoes. Partially cover pan and cook until broccoli is tender, about 5 minutes.  Cut cooked sausages into bite size pieces and add to pan along with chickpeas to heat through. Serve with chopped flat leaf parsley.

FOR THE SOUP (& CHEESE) LOVERS:

 

BROCCOLI & STILTON SOUPBowl of Broccoli and Stilton Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery, sliced
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and diced
  • 4 cups of low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 head broccoli, roughly chopped
  •  2 ounces Stilton, crumbled (or substitute cheddar or mild cheese if serving to children)

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan and then add the onions. Cook on a medium heat until soft. Add a splash of water or white wine if the onions start to catch. Add the celery, leek and diced potato. Stir, then cover with a lid for about 5 minutes.

Pour in the stock and add broccoli stems only (not the florets). Cook for about 10 minutes or until all the vegetables are soft. Add the rest of the broccoli and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon remove a handful of florets to keep whole for garnish. Carefully transfer the rest of soup to a blender and blitz until smooth. Pour into serving bowls and crumble the Stilton and florets on top. Substitute with your own favourite cheese if Stilton is not a favourite.  Season with black pepper (if desired) and serve.

 

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