Broccoli is a well known vegetable, but few people realize that it is actually a member of the cabbage family. This veggie, which looks a lot like a little tree, is an excellent source of vitamins C and K, and a good source of vitamin A, folate (which helps make red blood cells and may help prevent cancer), dietary fiber and the mineral manganese. This veggie is a serious nutritional powerhouse!
Broccoli is a cool weather vegetable, so its season is spring or fall. It’s not an easy vegetable to grow from seed, so we usually plant seedlings directly into the ground early spring and mid-August to get two good harvests from this super veggie. The flower head grows up from the ground on a thick stalk, surrounded by large, protective leaves. The flower head is a deep green, sometimes purple, and should be picked before the flowers turn yellow.
There are lots of ways to dress up broccoli to ensure a thumbs-up reaction from the little ones. It’s typically fun for kids to eat because of the tree-like structure, and the unusual texture of the florets. The stem of the plant is edible and delicious, too, but the fibrous outer layer needs to be peeled away. One of our favorite ways to serve broccoli at the Barn is our Creamy Broccoli Soup, from Stacey Antine’s book, Appetite for Life: The Thumbs-Up, No-Yucks Guide to Get Your Kid to be a Great Eater. The creaminess and cheesiness will definitely appeal to kids' palates, and it's low fat and nutritious, which will appeal to parents, too!
Creamy Broccoli Soup
We typically avoid “creamy soups” because they are usually high in saturated fat, but our creamy soup—healthy and slimmed down--is most definitely an exception. Sip a serving of this light but filling low-fat soup for calcium, and vitamins A and C.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
2 cups water
3 cups broccoli florets
2 medium white potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 cup low-fat (1%) milk
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup shredded 50% reduced-fat Cheddar cheese (2 ounces)
½ cup finely chopped chives
- In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until tender and translucent, 7–10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring.
- Add flour to vegetable mixture and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually stir in water and cook, stirring, until mixture boils and thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.
- Add broccoli and potatoes; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20 minutes or until broccoli and potatoes are fork-tender. Remove saucepan from heat.
- Pour about one-third of soup into blender; cover, with center part of cover removed to let steam escape, and blend until pureed. (Or, use an immersion blender and puree in saucepan).
- Pour soup into large bowl and repeat with remaining mixture. Return all soup to saucepan; stir in milk, salt, and pepper and heat through over medium heat.
- To serve, ladle soup into 9 soup bowls; top with Cheddar and chives divided evenly among bowls.
Makes 9 servings (1 cup per serving).
Nutrition Facts per serving: 90 calories; 3g fat (1g sat fat, 1g mono, 0g trans fats); 5mg cholesterol; 13g carbohydrate (2g fiber, 3g sugar); 5g protein; 80mg sodium; 20% Daily Value (DV) vitamin A; 60% DV vitamin C; 10% DV calcium; 6% DV iron.