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Eat Your Greens!

Think green! It's not just for St. Patrick's Day.

Nashville, Ark. – Being St. Patrick’s Day is this week made me think about the color green and the role it plays it an overall healthy diet. Dark green colored vegetables and fruits are super important in a healthy diet plan. And they should be included often in your meal plans. Vegetables such as turnip greens, collards, asparagus, and broccoli are naturally high in vitamin A and low in calories. Kiwi, green grapes and green apples also provide lots of nutrients, including vitamin C. Besides being high in vitamins, green vegetables and fruit also provide lots of fiber. Even some dark green vegetables are great sources of vitamin C. Broccoli is one of them.

            Broccoli is an important source of fiber and many nutrients. Broccoli provides vitamins A and C which are antioxidants that may reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers. It is also a good source of calcium, magnesium and vitamin K for healthy bones; potassium for healthy blood pressure and fiber to help control cholesterol and keep you regular.

            Just ½ cup of chopped broccoli provides 23 calories, 10% vitamin A, 80% vitamin C, 14% folate (needed for brain health) and is low in sodium at 8 mg. Broccoli can be enjoyed steamed, boiled, fresh or roasted.

            When choosing which head of broccoli to purchase at the grocery store, look for heads with tight buds which range from dark green to purple in color. Avoid bunches that have spreading buds, are yellow in color, and look wilted or limp.

            Once you have purchased broccoli, store it unwashed in the refrigerator. Broccoli stored in the cold and with high humidity can last from 3 to 5 days. It is important to store broccoli away from apples and pears because these fruits naturally give off ethylene which speeds the yellowing of broccoli.

            When you are ready to prepare broccoli to eat, begin by removing the woody layer of the stem. This can be easily done by peeling the stems. The stems will take a little longer to prepare than the florets. Avoid overcooking broccoli as this can cause discoloration and strong flavors. Broccoli should be cooked to just tender and should still be a little crisp.

            Broccoli can be cooked both on the stovetop in boiling water or in a steam basket. You may also cook broccoli in the microwave. To do this, place cut broccoli in a microwave-safe dish with ½ cup water, cover and cook 5 to 7 minutes on high.

            You can also enjoy broccoli fresh. Just wash and cut off the florets and enjoy them in salads or as snack!

            Broccoli is just one of the many “greens” you can enjoy with your family this St. Patrick’s Day and all summer long. If you would like a copy of the handout, “Arkansas Fresh Broccoli” contact the Howard County Extension Office at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse.

Recipe of the Week

            This is one of the featured recipes on the handout, “Arkansas Fresh Broccoli”. This recipe is a lighter version of a favorite broccoli salad enjoyed at many potlucks.

A Lighter Broccoli Salad

4 cups small broccoli florets (about 1 ½ pounds)

1 ½ cups seedless red or green grapes, halved

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup raisins or dried cranberries

¼ cup slivered almonds

1/3 cup light mayonnaise

¼ cup plain fat-free yogurt

3 Tablespoons sugar

1 Tablespoon white vinegar

            Combine the first five ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, yogurt, sugar and vinegar. Pour dressing over broccoli mixture and toss well. Chill for 1 hour. Yield: 8 servings (about 1 cup each)

Nutrition Information Per Serving: 175 calories, 6 g. fat, 3 g. protein, 31 g. carbohydrate, 4 g. fiber, 148 mg. sodium

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


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