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Selecting Broccoli

The nutritional power of broccoli makes it a must-have during your next trip to the market or plan for your vegetable garden. Color is key when choosing broccoli. The greener the broccoli is, the more beta-carotene -- an important antioxidant -- it has. Look for broccoli that's dark green or even purplish-green, but not yellow. Florets should be compact and of even color; leaves should not be wilted; and stalks should not be fat and woody.

Pot of steamed broccoli
Steaming preserves the nutrients in broccoli.

Keep broccoli cold. At room temperature, the sugar in broccoli is converted into a fiber called lignin, which is woody and fibrous. Store unwashed broccoli in your refrigerator's crisper drawer, in a plastic bag. Don't completely seal the bag, but make sure it is tight. Use within a few days.

Tips for
Preparing and Serving Broccoli

Wash broccoli just before using. Peel away the outer layer of the stems because these are woody. Use as much of the stems as you like; they contain fewer nutrients than the florets anyway. Steaming is the best way to cook broccoli because many nutrients are lost when it's boiled. Preventing broccoli's unpleasant odor is easy -- don't use an aluminum pan and don't overcook it. Steam only until crisp-tender, while stalks are still bright green; five minutes is plenty.

Try this trick: Make one or two cuts through the stems before cooking. This helps the stems cook as fast as the tops. Or dice and steam with the rest of the broccoli. Cool and toss into a salad to boost the fiber.

Broccoli florets can boost the nutrition, flavor, and color of any stir-fry dish. Raw broccoli tossed into salads boosts the nutrition of a midday meal. Served raw, broccoli is a great finger food. Children love it this way, perhaps because the flavor isn't as strong, or maybe just because it's fun.

However you serve broccoli, you'll be getting a boost of nutrition from this nutrient-packed vegetable. Keep reading to learn more about the great health benefits of broccoli.

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