January 24, 2017

Broccoli Leaves: The Superfood Sitting in Your Garbage Can

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)

broccoli leaves source of vitamin a, potassium and folateBroccoli leaves are also an excellent source of:

  • 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.

green broccoli breakfast smoothie Ingredients:

  • 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.


  • bright rice and broccoli green bowl1 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


  1. Put half the olive oil, along with all of the shallots and minced garlic in a pan.
  2. When the pan appears hot, add broccoli florets and sweet potato.
  3. Cook for 5-7 minutes, and then add broccoli leaves, black beans, half the red wine vinegar and cumin.
  4. Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, take off the heat and place on top of one cup of hot cooked rice.
  5. Add the fresh oregano, the rest of the olive oil and rest of the vinegar.
  6. 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.


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Vision of Judi Dench with Macular Degeneration

Actress Judi Dench, famed for her many roles of playing dignified, strong willed women in positions of authority who are sometimes opposed or criticized by those under her, is now under a new form of criticism: age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Reading scripts for her upcoming roles (as James Bond’s boss, included!) has now become difficult, because with AMD the area of the retina (the back of the eye) responsible  for sharp, central vision, called the macula, is gradually destroyed. This central vision is needed for seeing objects clearly, recognizing faces and for common daily tasks such as reading and driving.

Symptoms include blurred vision, difficulty seeing at a distance or doing detailed work. Blind spots develop in the middle of the field of vision, colors becoming hard to distinguish and distortion causing edges or lines to appear wavy. AMD can eventually lead to blindness.

There are two forms of AMD, wet and dry. Although dry is by far the most common form, unfortunately drugs are only available for wet AMD.

Dame Judi Dench says she has dry AMD in one eye and wet AMD in the other, but has released statements saying that she is not going blind.

This is most likely because she is receiving treatments such as injections into her eye to help reduce the degeneration process and, in some cases, restore some vision loss.

Some doctors might send you home to go blind, but there have been cases of reversing AMD and other common eye diseases.  High intake of dark green vegetables (spinach, broccoli, kale, ect.) and orange colored veggies (carrots, eggs, etc.) have the right vitamins that are vital to eye repair and maintenance.

You can opt to go for high doses of the same supplements found in those foods to naturally treat age-related macular degeneration.

Lutien and Zeaxanthin

  • Lutein and zeaxanthin are naturally occurring plant pigments in dark leafy greens, including kale, spinach, romaine lettuce and green leaf lettuce. They are also in a variety of other vegetables, including broccoli, squash, bell peppers, carrots and tomatoes. Eggs are another good source of these important phytonutrients.
  • There is no RDA for lutein and zeaxanthin. But some researchers suggest you need at least 6-10 mg of lutein daily for good eye health.


  • There are some good dietary sources of selenium: egg yolks, seafood, poultry, beef and whole grains contain the highest amounts. Brazil nuts are the most concentrated food source of selenium, featuring about 70-110 micrograms per nut.
  • To guarantee that you’re getting sufficient amounts in your diet use a 200 mcg supplement daily.

Vitamin C

  • Top sources include oranges, red and green bell peppers, grapefruit, strawberries, broccoli and kale.
  • Take up to 4000mg – you’ll know you are taking to much if you get diarrhea.


  • For a beta-carotene boost, choose apricots, carrots, sweet potatoes, collard greens, beet greens, turnip greens, kale, spinach, papaya, red bell pepper, cantaloupe, winter squash and romaine lettuce.
  • The National Institutes of Health recommend adult males include 3,000 IU and adult females include 2,310 IU of beta-carotene in their diet.


  • To be sure you’re getting enough zinc, enjoy wheat germ, garbanzo beans, black-eyed peas, sunflower seeds, almonds, tofu, brown rice, milk, ground beef and chicken.
  • The recommended dosage for eye health is 80mg/day.

Vitamin E

  • Sunflower seeds and almonds are excellent sources of vitamin E. Other vitamin E-rich foods include hazelnuts, peanut butter, spinach, avocados, olive oil and whole grains.
  • The daily RDA for vitamin E is 15 mg (22.5 IU) for teens and adults for healthy vision.

Dame Judi Dench is so brave to come forward with this AMD story. Perhaps it will encourage others to get a dilated eye exam, which can reveal even the early stages of age-related macular degeneration.

Dame Judi said her mother also had macular degeneration:

“I’ve got what my ma had, macular degeneration, which you get when you get old,” she said.

Has your mother been mentioning that she is having a hard time seeing the television screen?

How Your Diet Affects Your Pearly Whites

“Oh the shark has…pretty teeth dear…and he shows them…pearly white.”

Mac the Knife, Bobby Darin/Frank Sinatra

Amazing how the shark – with his carnivorous diet – manages to keep those – “pearly whites.” Ole sharky don’t even brush or floss none!

Well, in this month’s issue of Home Cures That Work, we go deep (get it? Deep…shark…ocean…*sigh* sorry) to uncover the foods that rule and the ones that ruin your precious smile.

And because your teeth don’t get replaced like ole sharky, hold on to your Oral-B because I have some shocking good stuff to share with you today…

Certain foods damage your teeth by lowering the pH levels in your mouth and saliva

Potential hydrogen – pH – is an important part of your dental health, which is something few of us think about when having morning OJ, or coffee.

Acidic foods and beverages like citrus fruits and juices, sodas, starches, legumes and sugars all have a negative impact on your teeth. The acid from these foods attacks your enamel and eats away at the phosphorous – the second most important mineral in your teeth and bones, next to calcium.[1]

In a moment we’re going to:

  • Examine low pH foods and beverages to stay away from
  • Review the foods that contain phosphorous that raise pH to help protect your teeth, gums and jawbone

But first, does the amount of food you eat at one sitting have an impact on your teeth?

Let’s start with the Journal of Oral Sciences…

Here’s something that may never have occurred to you when piling up the vittles.

According to the European Journal of Oral Sciences [2], it’s not only what you eat, it’s also the quantity of food you eat that determines the longevity of your smile.

You’ll see why in a moment.

Just don’t assume those 2-story stacks of premium pastrami cuts on rye guarantee your choppers and grinders that use-it-or-lose-it, life-long nibble-ability.

Now it’s true that certain foods produce more saliva than others – case in point: that mouthwatering pastrami sandwich. And saliva is very good for your gums and teeth because of the digestive enzymes. It helps wash away any food left behind after swallowing, too. In all its enzymatic, slimy glory – it even helps retard tooth decay and gum disease!

The rye bread tells the salivary gland (parotid gland) to secrete an enzyme called amylase to break down that starch, but if your Deli-Delight is too “Man V. Food” sized, the amylase can’t handle the quantity. And then, partially digested starch becomes plaque.

Are you eating the sandwich or is the sandwich eating your teeth?

Earlier I said that the quantity of food you eat determines how long you’ll be able to keep that mouthful of pearly whites. Here’s why…

The European Journal of Oral Sciences says…

Stuck-on starch = bacteria…and bacteria = plaque

What exactly happens when the amylase can’t break down enough starch? Streptococcus mutans (bacteriagrowth), that’s what. [3]

The Strep bacteria multiply inside your mouth and begin to create plaque on your teeth over time. That’s why brushing your teeth is good – you need to scrape that junk out of there. And using mouthwash after flossing is good, too. These practices help release and kill-off the harmful bacteria.

But if you don’t brush, floss, and rinse regularly, the plaque continues to grow and harden. Then it has to be removed by your friendly neighborhood dentist.

If not, the plaque works against you…getting between your tooth and the gum line…growing…hardening…separating each individual tooth from your gum. It leads to gum disease, periodontal disease, bone loss and eventually – complete separation. That’s when your teeth begin to fall out because they were anchored to that dissolving bone.

So in keeping with our double-decker, Deli-Delight demonstration, too much good of even the most favored food at one time can be detrimental to your teeth – not to mention your digestive and circulatory systems. But those are for another issue…

Now you know to take it easy with the portions. And that delicious food – even if its nutritional value is marginal – can still help to preserve your smile with saliva and its elevated enzymatic eminence.

If that’s the case, then what foods are bad for your teeth and why?

So glad you asked! Presenting…

Foods that are downright repellent for your teeth and mouth 

This is where we get a little more detailed and go a little deeper to discover which foods you should run away from as if they were photos of celebrity plastic surgeries gone awry…

Ahem…let’s start with the foods you definitely DON’T want to sink your teeth into:

  • Processed foods of any kind
    We say this a lot around here…avoiding these foods is good for the body and good for the teeth, too. The preservatives and sugars in there actually lower the pH of your saliva. A reduction in pH means denatured enzymes and demineralization of your teeth. Minerals are needed to preserve the enamel and keep teeth strong and healthy. The lower the pH, the worse the environment for your smile.
  • Grains, potatoes, candy and Fizzy Lifting drinks
    You may notice a bit of a theme here – sugar. We all know sugar is bad for our teeth, now you know why. Sugar drastically lowers oral pH and promotes the flourishing of bad bacteria. As mentioned earlier – that brings plaque. Grains and potatoes are sugar in disguise. Candy’s a gimme. And sodas – acidic AND sugary – mean double trouble for your fangs. Willy Wonka had a whole factory of sugary magic – no wonder his father was a dentist.
  • Citrus juice and sugary fruits
    Grapefruit juice and orange juice attack your teeth much like soda. Same with the fruits. You get the lower pH from the sugar plus relentless attack by citric acid. If you must have your morning OJ, best to take it in a Dixie cup and drink it with a straw. Drinking juice with a straw moves it past your teeth so less damage occurs.

All that said, you need vitamin C. It’s the glue that holds your cells together and makes them strong and vital. So you have to use good judgment and make sure you are mindful of what passes “through the teeth and over the gums.”

A good way to do that is with the right foods that promote a healthy environment for your teeth and raise your pH[4]


Foods your teeth (and your belly) will love

We’ve discussed pH and how important it is to your dental health. So let me share with you the foods that raise pH and promote a happy place for your mouth and teeth.

These foods actually preserve your smile and can improve your overall health as well.

They incite your natural concoction of glandular enzymes, which kill bacteria and work to digest starch. This process is followed by a secretion of fluid and mucus that alkalizes the food while preparing for its slippery ride into the belly, where it will be bathed in hydrochloric acid for complete digestion.

A study published in Dental Anthropology *, shows how your diet relates to tooth surface variations and how teeth are misaligned. The most common is incisor irregularity – crowding of teeth in the upper jaw. “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” is a profound truth – unless you’re talking about super-sized portions – and if ignored will come back to haunt you.

Chewing and biting stimulates the root and periodontal ligament. This stimulation tells the nerves to keep the blood and lymph flowing so the surrounding bone can keep a healthy, tight grip on the root.

So, let’s eat…

  • Cheese, please
    Yep. One of the oldest, most coveted comfort foods helps preserve your smile by protecting your teeth and gums. It’s down in sugar and up in calcium. It also contains a special protein called casein. Casein is found in milk and is very useful in the fortification of the tooth’s surface.[5] And a nice aged parmesan works as a remedy to guard against the effects of acid attacks on the teeth.
  • Veggies
    Pumpkin, broccoli and carrots are teaming with necessary vitamins and minerals. Particularly, vitamin A – a non-negotiable building-block of tooth enamel. Eat them raw or steamed but do NOT overcook them. That crunch will help clean and stimulate your gums to a nice, healthy condition. Don’t forget the onions…onions contain super-strong antibacterial compounds. They can even have the power to kill certain types of bacteria. Peel one and eat it raw. Your breath might not be date-friendly, but it guarantees healthy teeth.
  • Animal food
    No – not dog or cat food!  Lean beef, and poultry – including eggs – are healthy meats and high in phosphorous. Calcium and vitamin D work together with phosphorous to fortify your bones, including your jaw bone. They also keep your teeth strong and healthy by protecting them from tooth decay.

Also, be sure to drink plenty of water on a regular basis. Water cleanses your mouth and palette. It helps your saliva remineralize your teeth and keeps your gums hydrated. And as an added bonus: It also washes food particles from your mouth that get caught in your teeth and rot – causing bad breath (maybe try drinking some after eating the onion!).

In addition to including the above foods in your diet, chewing gum with xylitol is a convenient way to increase salivary flow and will inhibit plaque bacteria (Trident makes one, but you have to look for the one that contains xylitol).

Recipes for a healthy “shark bite”

Here are a couple recipes you can try that are delicious and very, very friendly to those…pearly whites:

Mighty Green Juice**

  • 1 bunch spinach
  • 1/2 bunch kale
  • 1/2 bunch chard
  • 1 bunch cilantro or parsley
  • 1/2 head of broccoli
  • 1/2 bunch celery
  • 1-2 cucumbers
  • 1-2 green apples

Process in a juicer or really good blender and enjoy!

Healthy Chicken Parmesan and Broccoli***

What you’ll need:

  • Oil spray like Pam®
  • 2 tbsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1, 28 oz can diced tomatoes (I made it with the Italian seasoned tomatoes), no added salt
  • ¼ c basil – fresh plus 1 sprig
  • Kosher sale to taste
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1 large broccoli – cut off florets
  • ¼ c whole wheat flour (gluten-free if you can)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 c whole wheat bread crumbs
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp dried rosemary
  • 3 tbsp fresh-grated aged parmesan cheese (who are we kidding – I doubled that!)
  • 4 large chicken breasts – boned, skinned made into cutlets
  • 1 c reduced fat mozzarella cheese grated

What to do:

  1. Coat a large skillet with Pam® cooking spray. Place over medium heat and add your EVOO. When hot, add the onion, 2/3 of the garlic and bay leaf. Cook for 6 – 7 minutes while stirring, until the onion becomes translucent. Reduce heat and add the tomatoes and basil sprig. Cook until sauce thickens stirring occasionally – about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer on low while you prepare the broccoli and chicken.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Sprinkle the remaining garlic over the broccoli and season with salt and pepper. Wrap broccoli tightly in aluminum foil and set aside.
  3. Put the flour on a piece of waxed paper. In a shallow bowl, beat the egg whites. Mix bread crumbs with oregano and rosemary on another piece of waxed paper. Add 2 tbsp of Parmesan and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge the cutlets in the flour, then dip in egg white mixture. Shake off the excess egg then dredge in the bread crumb mixture. Coat both sides of each cutlet with Pam® or other cooking spray and place on the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Bake the chicken and foil packet of broccoli until the cutlets are golden and the broccoli is tender – 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the broccoli and chicken from the oven.
  6. Preheat the broiler. Sprinkle the cutlet with the mozzarella and remaining Parmesan and place under broiler for 1 to 2 minutes, until the cheese is golden. Transfer chicken and broccoli to a serving platter. Remove the bay leaf from the tomato sauce and ladle the sauce around the chicken. Sprinkle with basil and serve immediately.

Pumpkin Pudding**

What you’ll need:

  • ½ medium pumpkin, peeled and cut into chunks
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup coconut water
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup agave
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 tablespoon golden flax seeds, ground

What to do:

Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Fin (As in – end!)

You can be a carnivore just like ole sharky from Mack the Knife – as long as you understand how to keep your bite…pearly white.

  • Keep a high pH by steering clear of sugars even in their carb and starch form
  • Eat smile-friendly foods
  • Take care of your fangs by cleansing and remineralizing like we talked about earlier
  • Brush, floss, and rinse with a quality mouthwash
That should take care of your shark bite for life!

And it only works if you work it…

As we’ve discussed, it takes more than just brushing 2 or 3 times a day for good dental health. Just like any healthy regimen you have to eat right, exercise (chew good stuff), and drink lots of water.

Then your teeth will be pearly white and not brown…you’ll smile so much easier…through mouth so healthy…now that Macky’s – back in town!


  • Do you brush and floss as recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA)?

  • Are you tearing into chunks of food without fear of how that food is affecting your choppers?

  • Do you think that brushing and flossing (assuming you answered “yes” and follow the ADA’s recommendations) gives you carte blanche to eat and drink as you please?

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