Silly Food Fact
What veggie looks just like tiny trees? Broccoli! Named from the Italian brocco, which means arm or branch, broccoli is part of the cabbage family. You are actually eating the flowers of this tree-shaped vegetable. Broccoli came to the U.S. by Italian immigrants but did not really become popular until the 1920s. Now it is a summer crop in California and a winter crop in Arizona, making fresh broccoli available year around.
Why Our Bodies Love It
Broccoli is crammed with nutrients. One serving has twice the vitamin C of an orange! Broccoli has amazing antioxidant properties and is a cancer-fighter. Iron, fiber, vitamin A, and calcium are just a few of its additional benefits. All this, and a broccoli spear contains just 15 calories. No wonder broccoli consumption has increased nearly 1000 percent in the last 25 years!
Care and Picking
As a cool-weather crop, broccoli grows best in the spring or fall. It likes daytime temperatures between 65 and 80F. Either seeds or seedlings can be planted, and regular watering is essential. Keep a close eye out for leaf-eating caterpillars which first munch on the broccoli leaves and then move to the heads. Be sure to use a high-nitrogen fertilizer to keep the plant a rich, dark green. When harvesting, keep a few leaves on the plant and continue to water—usually you will be rewarded with a second crop of broccoli.
Can’t get enough of this green antioxidant? Check out these tips for growing broccoli in a warm climate.
Tips and Warnings
When selecting broccoli, the darker green bunches are the most nutritious. The floret buds should be tightly closed with no signs of yellowing. Look for stalks that are firm, not limp or rubbery. Cook by steaming, microwaving, or quick frying—boiling can substantially reduce nutrients. Don’t toss the stalk. Peel the tough exterior; chop and toss in a stir-fry, or shred to make broccoli-slaw.
Easy way to cook broccoli