Introducing the Next Supergreen: Broccoli Leaves
by Jessica Sanders
Unfortunately, these precious greens usually end up in the trashcan. But health professionals believe they meet all the requirements of a superfood because:
- One serving (1-2 leaves) delivers 100 percent of your daily dose of vitamin C and 340 percent of your vitamin K requirements. (CleanPlates.com)
- Vitamin A: Important for good eyesight, strong bones and healthy skin
- Potassium: Regulates electrolyte levels and blood pressure
- Folate: Helps reduce LDL “bad” cholesterol and builds red and white blood cells
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, nearly 40 percent of food in the United States is thrown away, including broccoli leaves. So by eating your broccoli leaves you’re not only adding to your nutrition, but also helping reduce food waste.
Unless you grow broccoli at home, you may not even notice the leaves. Store-bought broccoli is usually trimmed of its leaves. But if leaves are still present, just cook them along with the broccoli for an added nutritional boost.
One of the only commercial brands of broccoli leaves available right now is Foxy Organic’s BroccoLeaf. So broccoli leaves may still be difficult to locate in most supermarkets and health stores. Instead, head to your local farmers’ market to see if you can find broccoli leaves from your local farm. If you don’t see any on display, ask for them; most farmers take food requests if they grow the item already.
Once you find some broccoli leaves, it’s time to cook them. Here are a few cooking ideas and some recipes to try with this healing plant.
How to Cook Them
Broccoli leaves are similar to other tough, fibrous green leaves, such as Swiss chard and some types of kale. This means that you can cook them using relatively similar techniques. Try one of these simple cooking methods.
Boil: Boiling leaches nutrients from vegetables if you cook them too long. Use this method if you don’t mind your leafy greens al dente and let them boil for no more than 5 minutes. Then, save the water you boil them in and incorporate it in the finished dish to retain some of those lost nutrients.
Try it: Toss boiled broccoli leaves with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, salt and pepper for a simple side dish.
Quick Sautee: This is one of the most delicious ways to bring broccoli leaves into a dish while retaining their powerful nutrients. The key is to add them to an already-heated pan and cook for only 7 to 10 minutes.
Try it: Sautee your broccoli leaves with broccoli florets, mushrooms and onions. Add light coconut milk, yellow curry powder and cooked chicken for a simple dinner.
Bake: Add raw broccoli leaves to any vegetable bake in place of other greens like kale.
Try it: Mix raw broccoli leaves, chopped onion, and chopped bell pepper into raw, scrambled eggs. Pour this mix into a muffin tins and bake for breakfast.
Add to a smoothie: Reap all the benefits of this superfood by adding it to a smoothie. This ensures that you get all the fiber (as opposed to juicing, which eliminates most of it), along with the nutrients. If you have a tough time digesting raw greens, massage them before adding, which breaks down the fibers that often cause digestive distress.
Try it: See our smoothie recipe below!
Give Your Skills a Try
If you’re not sure where to start with broccoli leaves, try one of these two simple recipes. Both yield one serving and can be easily adjusted for more.
Broccoli Green Breakfast Smoothie
Drink this smoothie in the morning if you’re pressed for time. It tastes like dessert and you’ll get protein, carbs, a little fat and plenty of vitamins to power your day.
- 1 scoop vanilla or chocolate protein powder (Try MRM Vegetable Protein)
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
- 1/2 medium-sized carrot
- 1 cup shredded broccoli leaves
- 1/4 – 1/2 apple, sliced
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
Add everything into a blender and mix.
Bright Rice and Broccoli Green Bowl
The “bright” part of this recipe comes from the vinegar, which adds lightness to what can often be a heavier rice dish. It’s best to eat in a bowl.
- 1 cup cooked jasmine or brown rice
- 1/2 cup broccoli florets
- 1 cup broccoli leaves
- 1/2 cup chopped sweet potato
- 1/4 cup black beans
- 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 shallot, diced
- 2 tbsp. fresh oregano
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- Put half the olive oil, along with all of the shallots and minced garlic in a pan.
- When the pan appears hot, add broccoli florets and sweet potato.
- Cook for 5-7 minutes, and then add broccoli leaves, black beans, half the red wine vinegar and cumin.
- Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, take off the heat and place on top of one cup of hot cooked rice.
- Add the fresh oregano, the rest of the olive oil and rest of the vinegar.
- Mix the rice and vegetables well, and eat hot.
You’ve likely had your fill of kale and chard, so give these new supergreens a try. You can cook them in the same way you prepare other green leafy vegetables. But you’ll reap even more benefits from broccoli leaves, like 100 percent of your daily vitamin K requirement and significant amounts of vitamin A, folate and potassium.
Head to your local supermarket, health store, or farmers’ market to add this new superfood to your regular grocery rotation.
If you liked this article, then you’ll love these:
- The Science of Cooking: Keep the Nutrients in Your Food
- Foods to Calm and Lower Anxiety
- Get Good Vibrations from Food