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Healthy Eats and Repeat

Highlighting Food, Recipes, and Ideas for a Healthy Lifestyle
Veggie Chow Mein - INEP

Best of Broccoli

Posted by Caitlin Huth - broccoli

Similar to my previous post on green peas, I think broccoli is another food that folks tend to like or dislike. I am a fan and grew up eating broccoli, but know that the way broccoli is cooked can really change its appeal. (I used to microwave broccoli in the shared kitchenette in my dorm college – very mushy. And my floor mates did not appreciate the smell.)

Disease Risk Reduction

Part of that smell comes from a compound in broccoli – and other brassica vegetables – called glucosinolates, which contains sulfur. University of Illinois researchers looking at broccoli describe more about these compounds in the recent "ACES@Illinois" publication with the article Plant Power: Broccoli to the Rescue.

Broccoli – and other brassica vegetables – also contain compounds, such as flavonoids and phenols, which are related to helping reduce cellular damage and reducing disease risk, such as cancer.


1 cup of cut broccoli contains around 33 calories, 6g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, and 3g protein and contains vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, and folate. Broccoli contains very little fat and sodium.

  • Buy: Fresh broccoli is available year round in most stores. Look for bright green, firm stalks.  Yellowing or browning or limp broccoli may indicated an older crop.  If buying frozen broccoli, look for plain broccoli, rather than brands with cheese or flavored sauces. These add salt and fat.

  • Price: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, fresh broccoli heads average $1.64 a pound. Frozen averages $1.87 per pound. When a cup is about a third of a pound, you can eat for around $0.75 per cup.
  • Store: Store fresh broccoli in the refrigerator without prior washing. (Washing and then storing fruits and veggies can shorten shelf life.) Keep frozen broccoli frozen until ready to use.
  • Prepare: Wash broccoli and cut into desired size pieces. Montana State University Extension has a visual step-by-step guide on preparing broccoli. Remember, stems can be eaten too.
  • Eat: Enjoy broccoli raw and cooked, in salads, pasta dishes, casseroles, as a side dish, as a pureed soup, and more.  When eating raw, ensure broccoli is washed before eating.  Broccoli cooked for a short time retains in green color than during long cooking.


The recipe below – and others – are available as part of our Illinois Nutrition Education Programs.

Veggie Chow Mein (serves 6)

A tasty veggie side dish. Try with cooked tofu, chicken, or pork for a full meal.

6 ounces rice noodles (or thin, flat egg noodles)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 tsp. vegetable oil
1 cup carrots, grated
2 tsp. chicken bouillon
1 tsp. hot pepper sauce
1 cup broccoli, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup bell pepper, finely chopped
4 tsp. soy sauce
1. Prepare noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
2. Sauté onion and garlic with oil in frying pan for 1 minute over medium-high heat.
3. Add carrot, chicken bouillon, and pepper sauce. Stir.
4. Add broccoli, celery, and bell pepper. Continue to stir.
5. Reduce heat to low. Add noodles and soy sauce. Stir over low heat for 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are cooked to crisp-tender.

Nutrition analysis per serving: 160 calories, 4g fat, 310mg sodium, 21g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 2g protein

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