November is Broccoli month at Bistro kids. Chef A.J. presents the facts

November is Broccoli month at Bistro kids and Chef A.J. from Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School in St. Louis, shares with us some of the outstanding benefits of the delicious garden veggie.

Chef A.J. writes:

This Months curriculum revolves around broccoli.  We had our first
class.  At the beginning of class out
of 15, only 6 students liked broccoli, at the end of class only one
student still did not like it. Even the
teacher confessed she liked it after trying.  I was only looking for
one convert and the whole class became broccoli fans!
During the class, we tried the following: blanched broccoli, roasted broccoli, and
sauteed broccoli in garlic butter.

Here’s some fun facts, the students are learing in our Culinary Classes:

-Students are learning about vitamins and nutrients

– How to apply different cooking techniques

-What  family broccoli is in

-How to grow broccoli, and how if left to mature would be a flower

– How to check broccoli for insects as part of kashrut training

Broccoli nutrition facts

Broccoli heads are rich source of phyto-nutrients that help protect
from prostate cancer and stroke risks. It is actually a flower
vegetable and known for its notable and unique nutrients that are
found to have disease prevention and health promoting properties.

Botanically, the vegetable is the member of large cruciferous
(Brassica) family of vegetables, which also include cauliflower,
brussel sprouts, cabbage, arugula, etc.

Scientific name: Brassica oleracea var. italica.

Broccoli is a cool-season crop and demands fertile rich and
well-drained soil to flourish. Technically; broccoli is categorized
into two main types according to their appearance; heading and
sprouting. Heading variety forms a large, solid head, whereas
sprouting types forms many smaller heads or florets.

Mature plant bears about 4-10 inches wide, dark green to purple color
flower-head depending on the cultivar type. Its central thick stalk
measures about 6-10 inches in length. Both stalk and fleshy flower
heads are edible.

Many different hybrid-mix developed with other cruciferous family
members such as broccoflower (hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower),
broccolini (broccoli and chinese kale) etc.

Health benefits of broccoli
■Broccoli is one of the very low calorie vegetables; provide just 34
calories per 100 g. Nevertheless, it is rich in dietary fiber,
minerals, vitamins, and anti-oxidants that have proven health
benefits. Total antioxidant strength measured in terms of oxygen
radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) of broccoli is 1632 µmol TE/100 g.

■Fresh Broccoli is a storehouse of many phyto-nutrients such as
thiocyanates, indoles, sulforaphane, isothiocyanates and flavonoids
like beta-carotene cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zea-xanthin. Studies
have shown that these compounds by modifying positive signaling at
molecular receptor levels help protect from prostate, colon, urinary
bladder, pancreatic, and breast cancers.

■Fresh vegetable is exceptionally rich source of vitamin-C. Provides
89.2 mg or about 150% of RDA per 100 g. Vitamin-C is a powerful
natural anti-oxidant and immune modulator, helps fight against flu
causing viruses.

■Further, it contains very good amounts of another anti-oxidant
vitamin, vitamin-A. 100 g fresh head provides 623 IU or 21 % of
recommended daily levels. Together with other pro-vitamins like
beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and zea-xanthin, vitamin A helps
maintain integrity of skin and mucus membranes. Vitamin A is essential
for healthy eye-sight and helps prevent from macular degeneration of
the retina in the elderly population.

■Broccoli leaves (green tops) are an excellent source of carotenoids
and vitamin A; (provide 16000 IU of vitamin A per 100 g) contain these
compounds several times greater than that in the flower-head.

■Fresh broccoli heads are an excellent source of folates; contain about
63 µg/100 g (Provides 16% of RDA). Studies have shown that consumption
of fresh vegetables and fruits rich in folates during pre-conception,
and pregnancy helps prevent neural tube defects in the offspring.

■This flower vegetable is rich source of vitamin-K; and B-complex group
of vitamins like niacin (vit B-3), pantothenic acid (vit.B-5),
pyridoxine (vit.B-6), and riboflavin. The flower heads also have some
amount of omega-3 fatty acids.

■It is also a good source of minerals like calcium, manganese, iron,
magnesium, selenium, zinc and phosphorus.

Selection and storage

Fresh broccoli heads are available year around. In the store, choose
fresh, bright, compact, firm textured flower heads with rich flavor.
Avoid those with over matured featuring yellow flower buds, excessive
branches and hollow stem. Whenever possible, go for organic farm
products to get maximum health benefits.

Once at home, rinse flower heads by dipping it upside down in salt
water for up to 30 minutes and then clean in running cold water before
use in order to remove any pesticide residues and dust.  Broccoli
greens should also be treated in the same way as you do in washing any
other greens like spinach.

Whenever possible, eat broccoli while they are fresh. Otherwise, it
can be placed in the refrigerator wrapped in a zip pouch where it may
keep well for a few days.
Culinary uses

Fleshy flower heads, stalks and leaves are edible. Broccoli sections
are being used in varieties of delicacies. Tough stalks and thick
leaves are trimmed using paring knife.

Here are some preparation tips:
■Young, tender, broccoli heads may be eaten raw or as salad.
■Its flower heads are much sought-after in stir-fries; either alone or
with other vegetables, beans and poultry, in mouth-watering recipes
mixed with sauce, oil onions, pepper, and garlic.
■Although boiling and microwaving has been found to destroy heat
sensitive vitamins like folate, anti-oxidants like vitamin-C, and some
anti-cancer phyto-nutrients in broccoli, some preparation methods such
as mild steaming and gentle braising have shown not to alter the
composition of these compounds.

Safety profile

Like other members of the cruciferous family, broccoli contains
“goitrogens” which may cause swelling of thyroid gland and therefore,
should be avoided in individuals with thyroid dysfunction. However, it
may be used liberally in healthy person. (Medical disclaimer).


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