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Broccoli is known as a cruciferous vegetable. Cruciferous vegetables are all high in fiber, vitamins and minerals and are part of a healthy eating regimen.

Cruciferous vegetables include cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, kale, collard greens kohlrabi and Brussels sprouts. Cruciferous means “cross bearing”. “Cross bearing” refers to the flowers, which have four petals forming a cross.

Consuming cruciferous vegetables has been associated with a decreased risk of colon, breast, bladder and prostate cancers. The specific compounds in these vegetables that are thought to be of value are indoles. Indoles belong to a class of phytonutrients which have been scientifically shown to benefit the body in a number of important ways.

When it comes to nutritional value, broccoli tops the list. It is rich in vitamins, high in fiber and low in calories. Broccoli has more vitamin C than an orange and as much calcium as a glass of milk. One medium spear has three times more fiber than a slice of wheat bran bread. It also tops all other foods for chromium content. Almost nobody gets enough chromium, a trace mineral that regulates insulin and helps to normalize blood sugar." Broccoli is also one of the richest sources of vitamin A in the produce section. Broccoli helps prevent colon and breast cancer, helps to minimize the risk for cataracts, protects against stroke, diabetes and osteoporosis, blocks the growth of melanoma skin cancer cells, and has been deemed an anti-cancerous food by the American Cancer Society. It is also a good source of lutein, glutathione and quercetin.

When choosing broccoli in the market, select heads that have tight and compact bud clusters with an even, dark color. Avoid stalks with yellowed or open bud clusters. Broccoli will keep for up to five days in a perforated bag in the refrigerator crisper.

Broccoli with Garlic

1 bunch of broccoli, or 1 pound of frozen chopped broccoli
4-6 garlic cloves
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water

Wash broccoli and cut into small florets. Cut the tender parts of the stem into small cubes. Steam in a steamer or over boiling water until barely tender and still bright green (about 4 to 5 minutes). Place olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Chop or mince the garlic. When the oil is hot, add the salt, then the garlic. Sauté, stirring frequently, just until the garlic starts to soften. Quickly add the water. Turn heat low and simmer for a couple of minutes.
Place the broccoli in a large serving bowl. Pour the garlic mixture over it, mixing gently to coat.
Serve and enjoy.
Chill leftovers and add to salad the next day.

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