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Broccoli-a Nutrient Dense Food



Broccoli--A Nutrient Dense Food

 Broccoli doesn’t get a lot of credit as being a favorite vegetable, but maybe it should.  Those little green compact heads are bursting with nutrients, including carotenoids and fiber. Known for its anti-cancer properties, broccoli has tons of nutrients including vitamins A and C, fiber, folic acid, calcium, and potassium.

One half cup of steamed broccoli provides 80 percent of the recommended daily allowances (RDA) for vitamin C, almost 15 percent of the allowance for folate, 10percent for vitamin A, and 7 percent for iron. It is also a good source of several B vitamins, other minerals and dietary fiber.  All this for only 23 calories per half cup serving!

Selecting broccoli is rather easy if you follow these guidelines. Select heads with tight buds which range from dark green to purple in color. Avoid those that have spreading buds, are yellow in color and look wilted. 

Unfortunately, broccoli is subject to insect infestation. If you select a bunch that is infested with insects, remove the insects by soaking for 30 minutes in 1 quart of cold water with 1 tablespoon of salt just before cooking.  Rinse well to remove any residual salt. 

Storage of broccoli is just as important as purchasing. It can be stored refrigerated in a perforated plastic bag, for 3 to 5 days. Due to the ethylene, which speeds the yellowing of broccoli, store it away from apples and pears.

There are several ways to prepare broccoli ranging from eating it raw, to boiling, grilling, stir-frying or steaming. 

Before you can eat the broccoli, you must first prepare it. Peel the stems to remove the woody layer and cut it into the desired size pieces. If cooking the stem, it will need to cook slightly longer than the florets. Avoid overcooking because discoloration will occur, as well as, strong flavors are likely to develop. For best flavor, cooked broccoli should be crisp.

Quick-cooking is the best method to maintain nutrient retention. Steam, stir-fry, or microwave for a short time until broccoli is tender but still crisp. For optimum flavor, season with a small amount of margarine or lemon juice or experiment with herbs and spices.

If you would like to receive more information on this healthy, versatile vegetable, contact me at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture in the Miller County Courthouse, call 870-779-3609, e-mail me at or visit our webpage at You can also find me on facebook at MillerCountyFCS or twitter #MillerCountyFCS.

Spicy Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon ginger

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch pieces

1 ounce unsalted peanuts or almond slivers

2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1 medium onion, cut into rings

1 medium carrot, thinly sliced

2 cups broccoli florets (about 1 inch pieces)

1 1/4 cup reduced sodium chicken broth divided

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

Prepare marinade by combining garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes in small bowl. Place chicken in bowl, toss, cover & refrigerate 30 minutes, turning occasionally. Heat skillet or wok over medium-high heat until hot. Add nuts and cook 2 minutes or until beginning to lightly brown, stirring frequently. Remove from skillet and set aside. Add 1 teaspoon oil to skillet, tilting to coat lightly. Add chicken and cook until done. Set aside on separate plate. Add remaining teaspoon oil to skillet; cook onions and carrots 2 minutes. Add broccoli and one fourth cup broth; bring to boil over medium high heat. Cover and cook 2 minutes or until broccoli is crisp-tender. Meanwhile, combine remaining 1 cup broth with cornstarch in small jar; seal lid tightly and shake vigorously until cornstarch is completely dissolved. Add cornstarch mixture with chicken, garlic and salt to broccoli mixture.  Cook 1 minute or until thickened. Remove from heat, sprinkle with soy sauce. Serve with brown rice

Makes 4 –1 & one half cup servings.

Calories, 210; Total fat 7 g; Protein 25g; Carbohydrate 12 g; Cholesterol 49 mg; Dietary Fiber 3 g; Sodium 570 mg (this does not include the brown rice)


By Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
(870) 779-3609

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