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Broccoli: Superfood or Super Gross?

Is broccoli a superfood or just super gross?

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Broccoli is one smelly veggie.


What's worse: an acquaintance mentioning that you have a little something stuck in your teeth (awkward!), or someone NOT warning you about that special green visitor dangling between your incisors? There's nothing like telling that hysterically funny joke, laughing enthusiastically, then excusing yourself to the ladies' room to discover new levels of embarrassment and humiliation. Mortifying? Broccoli.

At a recent event entertaining a team of teenage girl soccer players, the parents thoughtfully provided pizza and sports drinks, and with an attempt at infusing the carb-laden offerings with some healthy additions, a few folks brought a veggie or fruit tray to share. The instant the lid was removed from the veggies, the sweet dispositions of these lovely ladies appeared: "Oh, come ON!!!" "Who did that?" "Geeeez, that is so foul!!!!!" Broccoli.

As any 40-something peri-menopausal woman will tell you, the belly and the bowels are just not as cooperative as they used to be. That little rumble in the stomach during the romantic moment, the look of horror on our faces as we glance in the store window and see our body profile, the battle with our buttons as we swear on our life that these jeans fit JUST YESTERDAY. Want to add some more gas to your body? Broccoli.

My favorite is spending quality time in the kitchen, preparing a lovely meal for my family, a glass of wine within arm's reach, classical music in the background. For me, this is peaceful and satisfying, knowing that I am nourishing my family body and soul, putting my love into every pinch of salt or stirring of the pot. And then they arrive through the back door with, "What's that awful smell? I sure hope it's not dinner!!!" Ha ha. Broccoli.

Sure, it's kind of cute as vegetables go, like a little forest of trees for the Borrower family. But have you ever been faced with purple broccoli? Are you sure that this is its natural coloring, and not a weird strain of penicillin attached to the crown? How about Romanesco? Is that cauliflower, broccoli, or some strange mutation with unknown dietary impacts? Broccoli Rabe? One bite of that bitter weed and it's straight to the garbage disposal for the rest.

OK, so you really can't have your favorite Chinese "Beef with Broccoli" without the little green offender, but do they have to give you so much? Couldn't we squeeze a bit more beef into that container instead of ten extra florets of the mushy malodorous mass? And could they maybe cut the pieces a wee bit smaller, so that I don't have to attempt cutting it with my plastic fork only to send it soaring through the atmosphere like Jane and Michael's kite? It's awfully difficult to look ladylike as I maneuver a two inch cluster into my mouth and then endeavor to masticate without puncturing a hole in my cheek. And of course, this at the precise moment when the waiter arrives to inquire if everything is satisfactory and is there anything else that I need?

I'll admit that broccoli is the "superstar" of veggies with its cancer-fighting properties, vitamin C and dietary fiber. It does looks pretty on the crudite platter. When cooked al dente and accompanied by a little butter, salt and pepper (or a lot, if you are like my family), it really tastes pretty good alongside a chicken breast or a juicy steak and baked potato. While it's not my favorite when I order steamed vegetables in many a restaurant, it sure beats yellow squash in my book.

I am sure I will end up with a crown or two in my grocery cart next time I shop, but it will bring me no joy. I consider broccoli almost a second-class citizen in my snobbish culinary mind, but I convince myself to utilize it to round out the nutritional value of my meals. Oh, but when it comes to those long luscious leeks, tender thin asparagus and burnished baby bellas nestled in the produce displays, now that is a different story. Grilled, sauteed, embellishing a creamy risotto - these veggies have class. No issues, no complaints, no potential embarrassment. I think I just figured out what I am making for dinner tonight, and you can bet my kitchen will smell fantastic.

by Liz Leyh D'Addario


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Broccoli is my healthy superfood hero.


Okay, let’s quickly get the whole, it’s-good-for-you thing out of the way shall we? If you’ve been living under a rock, broccoli is one of the super-healthy, heart-healthy, cancer-healthy, everything healthy superfoods of the universe.

Broccoli has also been known to be a great natural detox. Broccoli also has your vitamin C, vitamin A, beta-carotene, folic acid, calcium and fiber. Right brain folks will want to check out this chart of nutrient percentages.

Broccoli tattoo
Photo and permission: Jean Chen

But let's cut to the chase - research shows health benefits of broccoli have been linked to preventing and controlling Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, calcium deficiencies, stomach and colon cancer, malignant tumors, lung cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and even the aging process. Boom.

But here’s the real reasons I am convinced broccoli is the ultimate superfood. And I listed them in my own personal order:

REASON #5:  STEAMED BROCCOLI GOES WITH ANYTHING.

It’s true. Think about it, you can't really screw up by putting broccoli as a side to anything. Chicken? Works great. Fish? C’mon, try a little harder. A medium-rare filet minion with melted blue cheese? That’s the side of choice your big time steakhouses even choose. There’s only one way you can screw up broccoli as a side – over cook it until its a mushy limpness.
Super Easy Steamed Broccoli Recipe here.

REASON #4:  BROCCOLI CHEDDAR SOUP.

Haven’t met a bowl yet I haven’t liked. A hot spoonful on a cold winter’s day will transport you into comfort food heaven. Likewise, a cold dish of it in the middle of summer makes you want to go play outside way past the sun going down like when you were a kid.
Broccoli Cheddar Soup recipe that you can serve hot or cold.

REASON #3:  BROCCOLI PASTA SALAD.

This very well could be why almond slivers were invented. But what other food is so versatile that you could center almost anything else that you like around it. You could try it with pesto one day, red and yellow peppers the next, oranges on Tuesday, tuna on Wednesday, go through every variation of salad dressing and you still wouldn’t have made a dent in the pile of recipes that are waiting to be tried.
Broccoli pasta salad recipe here.

REASON #2:  BROCCOLI STIR FRY.

I don’t know how to say this politely. But if you don’t put some bright green florets in your stir fry, well then you don’t really have a stir fry. You simply have a Bonnie Taylor wok - food just holding out for a hero. And a crunch of a cashew alongside a mouthful of broccoli? Bliss.
Best broccoli stir fry recipe ever? This one with cashews.

REASON #1:  MELTED CHEESE.

Just as popcorn is merely a holder for salt and pepper, there is nothing more delicious than perfectly steamed broccoli smothered in melted cheese. Okay, sure, the cheese part isn’t so healthy. But we are still eating the broccoli part, right? And for most kids, this is easily the best way to have them fell in love with their first veggie. So I’ll trade a life of now wanting to eat more of this superfood for a momentary lapse where it’s swimming in gooey, creamy, velvety cheese.
Kid's favorite broccoli with melted cheese recipe here.

by Pete Griffith


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