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The Good Green Floret

Bursting with flavour and boasting a myriad of essential nutrients, broccoli has always been known as a powerful pregnancy superfood. The cruciferous vegetable from the Brassica family is said to originate from Italy and became popular in the 17th or 18th century

Broccoli is high in antioxidants, and phytochemicals, offering numerous benefits for a pregnant mom and her baby. It can be prepared in many ways too: steamed, stir-fried, made into soups, etc.

Benefits of broccoli

Strengthens Bones: Broccoli is rich in calcium, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorous, all of which are essential bone-strengthening nutrients. They help make bones strong and healthy and prevent osteoporosis.

Boosts immunity: No pregnant woman would want to fall sick but if one’s immunity is weak, it’s all too easy to catch a cough, cold, flu or infection. Did you know that broccoli is full of vitamin C, beta-carotene, selenium, zinc, copper, phosphorus, and other vital vitamins and minerals? These help boost your immunity, which helps protects you and your baby from various ailments and infections.

Bright, healthy eyes: So nutritious is the broccoli as a superfood that research has managed to point out that its beta-carotene content can help prevent macular degeneration and safeguards your eyes during pregnancy. The Zeaxanthin, Vitamin A, Vitamin B complex, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and phosphorus present in broccoli help promote eye health, repair damage and help prevent the risk of cataract and other eye ailments.

Prevents constipation: Broccoli is rich in soluble and insoluble fiber which help retain water and ensure healthy bowel movements during pregnancy.

Choose good broccoli

Choose broccoli that is bright green and has no yellow parts, especially flowers. The broccoli florets should be compact and not bruised. The stalks should be firm and have no brown spots and the leaves should not be wilted.

Try these simple recipes!

Rich and creamy broccoli soup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a deep non-stick pan, add the onion and sauté on a medium flame for 1 to 2 minutes or till the onions turn translucent.
  2. Add the broccoli and 1 1/2 cups of water and mix well. Cover with a lid and cook on a medium flame for 3 to 4 minutes, while stirring occasionally. Keep aside to cool slightly.
  3. Blend the mixture to a smooth purée.
  4. Transfer the purée back into the same deep non-stick pan, add the milk, salt and pepper, mix well and bring to boil.
  5. Serve on its own or with toast/garlic bread.

Asian Beef ‘n’ Broccoli

Ingredients

  • 1 lb beef top sirloin or rib eye beef thinly sliced
  • 1 heaping tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp onion, grated
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds, plus more for garnish
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups broccoli florets, halved lengthwise
  • Water, as needed
  • 1 scallion, sliced into thin strips, for garnish

Method

  1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the beef, garlic, onion, soy sauce, sugar, honey, sesame oil, sesame seeds and pepper. Seal and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.
  2. Steam or boil the broccoli until cooked but still firm.
  3. Set aside to cool.
  4. Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the beef, shaking off any marinade, and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 6 minutes, or until done.
  5. Add the broccoli during the last 2 minutes of cooking, to heat and coat it with the cooking juices. If the pan gets too dry, add a little water.
  6. Garnish with sliced scallions and serve.

Potatoes with Broccoli & Cheese

Ingredients

  • 4 large russet potatoes (12-15 oz each)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 10 oz broccoli florets
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Place a rack on the lowest part of the oven and another rack in the middle of the oven. Place a baking sheet on the lowest rack of the oven (line with aluminum foil for easier cleanup). Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Scrub the potatoes clean and pat them dry. Stab a few slits on both sides of each potato with a sharp knife.
  2. Hold the potatoes over a mixing bowl and rub them with extra virgin olive oil, then coat them generously with kosher salt. Place the potatoes directly on the middle rack above the baking sheet. Let the potatoes bake for 60-70 minutes till soft inside. Squeeze them after baking — they should dent under pressure.
  3. Remove potatoes from the oven and let them stand uncovered to cool slightly.
  4. Meanwhile, slice broccoli florets into small bite-sized pieces. Place the broccoli in a saucepan along with 1/2 cup of water.
  5. Bring to a boil on the stovetop. Cover the pot and reduce heat to medium low. Let simmer till broccoli turns tender and bright green (about 10-12 minutes). Drain.
  6. While broccoli is cooking, make your cheese sauce. Melt butter in another saucepan and whisk in the flour to form a thick paste.
  7. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking till milk is smooth. Heat over medium, whisking constantly, till the mixture thickens and bubbles around the edges. Do not let the sauce come to a full boil.
  8. Whisk in the grated cheese and stir till melted and smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to lowest setting, stirring frequently.
  9. Drain the cooked broccoli.
  10. Slice each baked potato across the top lengthwise. Squeeze both ends together to open the potato wide.
  11. Stuff each potato with cooked broccoli florets.
  12. Top each potato with cheese sauce. Serve hot.

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