I’m all about broccoli lately. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Which is odd considering I went a good portion of my life hating it.
When I was a baby and a little kid, I adored broccoli. Especially broccoli with cheese… I was like a little Green Giant worshipper. Then all of a sudden, things changed. Broccoli was no longer my friend- it was my foe. For many years (lets say young adolescence until *ahem* early adulthood) I ate Smartfood White Cheddar popcorn and Totino’s Pizza Rolls as snacks and my food choices were either a hamburger or… a hamburger. Nothing green was to touch my plate. Its safe to say my diet wasn’t the best, but find me a teenager’s whose diet is great and I’ll show you a vegetarian teenager. But I’ve since gone through a transformation. When I was younger, I could eat all that crap and it didn’t effect me, I was still super skinny and fit. But the older I got, the more that changed. So recently I did something about it. I lost a lot of weight since mid-2007 (50 pounds), began exercising and, you guessed it, eating better. I realized that there are so many health problems related to being overweight, even just moderately overweight or a few pounds over what the recommended weight is for you, that I needed to make a change. At 5’9″ or 5’10” I can get away, just barely, with the extra poundage better than most, visually. But healthwise it doesn’t matter. Being heavier isn’t good for anyone. I feel better, look better and I’m sure I’m much healthier now. So my new diet consists of much less red meat (I really don’t have much of a taste for it, anymore, except for a big thick bacon cheeseburger every now and then.. and a Nathan’s hot dog), lots of salad, seafood and chicken, and my old friend- broccoli.
Broccoli is so amazingly good for you:
Broccoli is high in vitamin C and soluble fiber and contains multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties including diindolylmethane and selenium. A single serving provides more than 30 mg of Vitamin C and a half-cup provides 52 mg of Vitamin C . The 3,3′-Diindolylmethane found in broccoli is a potent modulator of the innate immune response system with anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer activity.  Broccoli also contains the compound glucoraphanin, which can be processed into an anticancer compound sulforaphane, though the benefits of broccoli are greatly reduced if the vegetable is boiled more than ten minutes. A high intake of broccoli has been found to reduce the risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Broccoli leaf is also edible and contains far more betacarotene than the florets.
Broccoli is usually boiled or steamed, but may be eaten raw and has become popular as a raw vegetable in hors-d’oeuvre trays. Although boiling has been shown to reduce the levels of suspected anticancer compounds in broccoli, other preparation methods such as steaming, microwaving, and stir-frying have been shown not to reduce the presence of these compounds.
Broccoli is also high in vitamin K.
I prefer my broccoli “stir-fried”; in a skillet with some olive oil or butter. Which is good because thats how you keep the nutritional value. I put it on my Amy’s Organic frozen pizza’s, add it to my macaroni & cheese (I don’t stir-fry that, I just thaw it and add it to the mixture before baking), and eat it right out of the aforementioned skillet while I’m cooking it, sometimes. And the other major component here thats excellent for you is olive oil.
So many people hear “fats and oils aren’t good for you” so they omit them totally, or as much as possible. With olive oil, this couldn’t be further from the truth:
Evidence from epidemiological studies suggests that a higher proportion of monounsaturated fats in the diet is linked with a reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease. This is significant because olive oil is considerably rich in monounsaturated fats, most notably oleic acid.
There is a large body of clinical data to show that consumption of olive oil can provide heart health benefits such as favourable effects on cholesterol regulation and LDL cholesterol oxidation, and that it exerts antiinflamatory, antithrombotic, antihypertensive as well as vasodilatory effects both in animals and in humans.
Not that that means you should drink bottles of the stuff everyday, but in moderation it really can help more than hurt. Now isn’t that good news!?
All hot & steamy in the pan…
This recipe is loosely taken from a book I recieved recently at a fundraiser at Lord & Taylor. I met the author and she signed the book for me, and I read it that night. The title is I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti and the author is Giulia Melucci. Its a novel about her love life, and how food was so intertwined with it, interspersed with her recipes, most of which are mouthwateringly tempting. I didn’t really need a recipe to tell me how to make this dish, its so easy, but when I saw this recipe in her book it made me crave it so much I’m giving her the credit. Plus, her dish has a bit more going on than mine- I didn’t use the walnuts and raisins myself, but left them in the recipe in case you did. And as my friend Tania from Love Big, Bake Often suggested, toasted pine nuts would also be good. I also thought I had penne in the house, but instead only had ziti and rotini, so I used ziti. Pasta is pasta, right? Buon Appetito!
- 1 pound broccoli (if you buy it frozen, buy broccoli florets)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for finishing
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- Pinch of hot red pepper flakes
- ½ cup raisins*
- ½ cup chopped walnuts*
- 1 pound penne
- Freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
- Wash the broccoli and cut into florets; discard the stalks. If you’re using frozen, just rinse them in cool water in a strainer to “thaw” them a bit before cooking.
- In a skillet large enough to hold the pasta and the broccoli, heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the garlic and red pepper flakes. When the garlic is golden, add the broccoli, raisins and a big pinch of salt. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, adding a little water if the mixture gets too dry.
- Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in a small skillet for 5 to 6 minutes over medium heat, giving the skillet a shake every so often. Watch them or they will burn! Once they’re toasted, remove from heat and set aside.
- Cook the pasta according to directions. Drain and add the penne to the skillet with the broccoli, then add a splash of olive oil and the toasted walnuts.
- Serve in warm bowls, and sprinkle generously with parmigiano cheese. If you’re lactose intolerant (or have no cheese), a ¼ cup of bread crumbs can be substituted.
*Like I said, I omitted these.
A delicious and healthy way to eat pasta! Even better if you use whole-wheat pasta. I added slightly more red pepper because I like my food with a kick.
Since its meatless, this is a good dish for all you religious folk to eat this week. I don’t get down like that, I just eat it because its good. Amen!