By: Suzanne Brett, RHN – Victoria, BC
I’m sure you all thought that I would write about pumpkins this month. Well, as much as I love squash, I love broccoli even more. And really, who doesn’t? If you are one of the few people who doesn’t like broccoli, or cannot tolerate it for digestive reasons…. Maybe I can change your mind? Just maaayyybe?
Broccoli’s nutrient profile is very high. It contains oh, so many amazing vitamins and minerals that our body’s crave through the fall and winter months. Just after the decline of the abundant September harvests, broccoli thrives.
As mentioned in last month’s post about Basil and it’s high amounts of Vitamin K and it’s ability to promote cancer prevention. Broccoli too, is a higher source of Vitamin K and A, which has been proven to help in the absorption of Vitamin D. Thus particularly important for some of us in the cooler climates over the Winter. Without that precious sunshine, we have few options for Vitamin D sources which, in some of us can cause S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
Broccoli also contains many powerful antioxidants and phytonutrients that help our detoxification systems and lowering our cholesterol levels.
Broccoli is a part of the cruciferous family. Among my top 4 favourite food groups. Some of it’s cousins are cabbage, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, radish… The thing about cruciferous vegetables that most people don’t know about, is that most of them contain higher amounts of oxalic acid and other digestive blockers. These acids are naturally occurring in the plants and can be easily removed in the cooking or food preparation process. For some, eating these cruciferous vegetables raw, or too lightly cooked is part of the reason that they may be experiencing digestive dysfunctions (ie: gas, bloating or distended tummies) post consumption of these delicious plants. These acids can prevent the nutrients in these foods to be effectively absorbed in some of us, and it’s those nutrients that are needed in order to digest the food itself.
In order to ensure that we can digest broccoli and other cruciferous plants with ease, we cook them, steam them, stew them, roast them or marinate them in alkaline forming acids like citrus or cider vinegars. This process helps break down the nutrient blocking acids like oxalic acid and can help promote production of our bile acids which stimulates our digestive system increasing our ability to absorb nutrients. Cooking broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables is especially important for individuals who have hormonal difficulties particularly of the thyroid. Oxalic acid acts directly as a thyroid function disturber, directly impacting our mood, energy, immunity and sleep patterns.
Due to the huge array of nutrients that broccoli can provide us, it can offer many benefits to our health. These nutrients are anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, cancer fighting, cholesterol lowering, blood-sugar balancing and so on.
So, as you can see if any of you have had difficulty with broccoli before, try it again, using the proper cooking methods below and maaaayyyybe, just maaaayyyybe you’ll enjoy it as well as be able to increase your nutrient absorption.
If you need another reason to like broccoli… Usually most fruits and vegetables loose their Vitamin C content after prolonged storage, being cooked or heavily processed. Luckily for all you broccoli lovers out there, the Vitamin C content in broccoli survives strong after following this cooking process.
Cooking cruciferous veggies and leafies
Effectively cooking cruciferous vegetables and dark leafy greens to make them more digestible by breaking down nutrient blocking chemicals and maintaining nutrients:
Cooking times vary depending on the variety of vegetable or size. Generally, the vegetable should maintain it’s colour or become slightly more vibrant and should still be slightly crunchy, never soft but forkable. Ie: greens = 3-5 minutes steaming, kohlrabi = 15-20 minutes roasting.
Lightly steam in a steamer or in a pan/pot with a bit of water.
Roast/bake in the oven at 300 – 350°C
Throw into a soup or stew blended or in the last 10 minutes.
Marinate in olive oil, lemon/lime juice and/or apple cider vinegar for a 18-24 hrs and massage the marinade into the vegetable as much as possible.
Braise greens in a pan with a cooking fat/oil or water for 3-5 minutes.