What's in Season: Broccoli by Emily Weeks, RDN, LD

One of the world’s most popular and healthiest vegetables, broccoli, has quite the reputation. Jam-packed with nutrition and cancer-fighting antioxidants, it’s got serious bang for the buck. Whether you enjoy it raw, steamed, roasted, or added to your favorite soup, broccoli is delicious and can be used in a wide variety of ways.

What's in Season: Broccoli Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family, of which cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts are also members. Also known as cruciferous vegetables, they contain fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and potassium. Broccoli contains more protein than most other vegetables, great for those on a plant-based diet. Per cup, broccoli has just 30 calories, but 2.4 grams of fiber and 2.5 grams of protein. Just half a cup of broccoli contains almost 70% of the daily value of calcium. Broccoli also contains folate, important for pregnant women and fetal growth, and potassium, beneficial for blood pressure control. 

Rich   in antioxidants, broccoli may protect against many types of cancer, like lung, breast, prostate, pancreatic, and gastric cancers. Broccoli may also reduce stress, decrease inflammation, and support the immune system.  

A cool weather vegetable, broccoli thrives in the winter and spring, but is grown year-round in warm climates like California. The best season for broccoli is October through April. When selecting broccoli at the grocery store, choose florets with firm stems and dark green buds. When the buds begin to turn yellow or limp, it’s past its prime.

Store broccoli in the fridge wrapped in damp paper towels for three to four days. If you want to store broccoli longer than this, you can blanch and freeze it. To blanch broccoli, bring a pot of water to a boil and prepare a bowl of ice water. Add florets to boiling water for two minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and add to ice water for another two minutes. Lay the broccoli on a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze, then transfer to a freezer bag (and it’ll be good for up to one year).

Broccoli is delicious both fresh and frozen and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Raw broccoli is delicious dipped in salad dressing or hummus alongside baby carrots and other raw vegetables. 

Roasted broccoli is as simple as tossing with oil and spices, spreading onto a baking sheet, and placing in the oven at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes. Pan-frying is easy too—heat oil and cook broccoli until tender-crisp. Broccoli can be added to a wide variety of soups, including potato and vegetable soups, or you can whip up a batch of broccoli cheese soup. If you’d like to add broccoli to your favorite pasta dish, simply toss in a handful of florets during the last few minutes when you’re boiling pasta. Broccoli pairs well with garlic, cheese, and other strong seasonings.

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