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Articles - A Healthy Diet:

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Cooking with broccoli

Broccoli is a great vegetable with a pleasantly spicy taste which can be prepared in a variety of ways. For a delicious salad, blanche the florets for a few minutes and serve warm with a herb vinaigrette – for example mixed with Serrano ham and pine kernels.  For a creamy soup, cook the broccoli in a vegetable broth, mash and season with nutmeg.

Cooking and preparation tips

It is easy to prepare this aromatic vegetable in many different ways; in a wok, with Italian pasta, in a quiche, or as an accompaniment to lamb, chicken and fish. Create a main dish by steaming the florets, swirling in a little butter and sprinkling with flaked almonds.  A dash of white wine or lemon juice will emphasise the aroma. As long as broccoli is not boiled for too long it will not lose its valuable nutrients. Ready after five to 10 minutes in lightly salted water, the broccoli should be al dente and ready to eat. The stems can also be eaten and taste rather like asparagus. They should be peeled before cooking and cut into slices.

Origin and health benefits

Broccoli (Brassica oleracea) belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family and is closely related to the cauliflower. Like all brassicas, it is descended from Mediterranean wild cabbage. The head is not yet fully in flower and is composed of several small flower buds. Broccoli is low in calories (28 kcal per 100 g) and more easily digested than other types of cabbage. It has many beneficial ingredients such as vitamins C and E and beta-carotene and the minerals potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium. It is also rich in fibre and valuable phytochemicals.

Shopping, quality and storage

Broccoli is grown in many European countries and is available to buy all year round. You can tell that broccoli is fresh and good quality by a strong green colour, crisp leaves and stems and closed flower buds. Broccoli does not keep for long and will only last a few days in the salad drawer of the refrigerator. If you buy vegetables wrapped in cling film, don’t remove it; this way the head will stay fresh longer. Stir-fried broccoli is very suitable for freezing.

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de