When you get a bunch of broccoli, your instinct may be to toss the stems, and keep the flowers. But did you know that the stem contains just as many nutrients as the whole broccoli? It’s replete with vitamin C, E, K and more as well as amazing phytonutrients that are good for your health.
Broccoli “has a promising anticancer agent, sulforaphane, which also helps protect your brain, your eyesight, reduces nasal allergy inflammation, helps manage type 2 diabetes, and has recently been found to successfully help treat autism.” According to Dr. Michael Gregor, in his groundbreaking book “How Not to Die”. This is because of the “gift” in cruciferous vegetables called sulforaphane.
This is another article in my series on getting the most from your organic buck and saving food waste. This article is a teaser to interest you to take my forthcoming class “Food Quality Matters- How to Get More Bang for Your Organic Buck”.
Cooking and eating the broccoli stems gives you an additional serving of vegetables.
To start off, buy organic broccoli. Although broccoli is not on’s Dirty Dozen list, until this year, it was on the Clean 15 and it has fallen off that designation. Broccoli has been found to now have 33 pesticide residues on it, of which 3 are carcinogens, 16 are hormone disruptors, 6 are neurotoxins and 6 are developmental or reproductive toxins. In addition, 9 of the pesticides sprayed on broccoli are killing our honeybees and butterflies . No pollinators, no food.
Since I am recommending that you eat the florets as well as the stems, you don’t want to be eating poison with every bite, so buying organic is important.
When you get the broccoli home, you need to soak it is a bowl with a little bit of white vinegar and filtered water. Separate the florets, and put them in the water, and let them soak for 10 minutes. Then pat dry the broccoli with a paper towel and wait 30 minutes before proceeding to cook your broccoli.
What does this routine do? First, little bugs and worms are making their home in the flower of the broccoli. Soaking it for 10 minutes in vinegar and water kills them and washes them out. Now run it under running water to make sure they all wash off.
The next step is key; pat the broccoli dry with paper towels and set it out to dry. Waiting 40 minutes total before cooking your cruciferous vegetables after cutting it (which works for the entire cruciferous family, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, and bok choy) is referred to as “hack and hold” by Dr. Michael Gregor. By letting the vegetable rest for 40 minutes, the sulforaphane can finish its process of activating and mixing with mirosynase enzyme, so that all its health saving aspects are fully realized. Now however you prepare it doesn’t change its health-giving qualities. My hubby and I have also discovered that this gives the vegetable a milder more delectable taste.
Do not throw the broccoli stem away. It is loaded with the same number of goodies as the plant’s flowers. You may choose to use and cook them at the same time (they just need to be cooked a little longer) or you can make a recipe using just the stems, but they have value and give you another serving of the vegetable for the price of one.
The broccoli stem, also known as the stalk, is not superfluous. It contains the same vitamin A, Vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and folate as its more delicate flowers. It also contains B1, B2, iron, magnesium, zinc, and more. One cup of cooked broccoli contains as much vitamin C as an orange and 245% of your daily vitamin K requirement. (Important for bones) It also has the antioxidants E and lutein which are great for your eyes. These are antioxidants, and they are anti-inflammatory which prevents damage from free radicals.
What are the benefits of eating broccoli and the broccoli stems?
• They can boost heart health, lower LDL cholesterol, and raise HDL cholesterol, which helps reduce blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.
• They can reduce the risk of diabetes because of it’s high fiber content in the stalk, and because of its antioxidant sulforaphane.
• They can boost brain health; broccoli also has kaempferol, a phytonutrient that can slow the effects of mental decline and increase healthy brain tissue.
• They can help to fight inflammation because of its anti-inflammation compounds. This lowers chronic inflammation, heart disease, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, psoriasis and the entire family of autoimmune diseases.
• They can help maintain healthy bones, especially because of its Vitamin K content, but is also a source of calcium. Research is also showing that sulfoaphane can prevent osteoarthritis in early studies.
You can either peel or not peel the stem. You get additional fiber if you cook it as is, but some people find it difficult to chew. Cut it into coins, or sticks, make it into rice or roast it in bite size chunks.
There are a huge number of possibilities for how to cook and eat it on the internet from broccamoli, to soup, to coleslaw. I also found people touting it for
Vegie burger ingredient
And spiralized for noodles
And of course, you can roast, steam, eat it raw, add it to salads, use it for dips etc.
What more can I share in my class about broccoli? Where to buy it, why to buy it local, how quickly it begins to lose its gifts after being harvested, how to store it, on the kitchen counter, on a refrigerator shelf, in the crisper drawer? I share how to choose the best head, and why to buy the entire head when purchasing. How quickly should you eat it? When do you break it up into florettes? What colors does it come in? Can it be frozen and how much of its essential qualities does it lose in freezing?
The class also shares how to make room in your budget to buy organic, and then where to get the best bang for your buck.
Food waste is a big part of climate change. We can save nutrients for our body and contribute to our planet by saving food waste at the same time. And we save money by finding ways to utilize our waste.
I hope you will join me when I roll out my class. I have learned a lot researching for it, and I am excited to share it all with you.
Watch this space. Coming soon.

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