How to Prepare Broccoli

Recently my son brought home a card from school to keep track of the fruits and veggies he eats. Our local hospital does a program at the elementary schools to encourage the kids to be active and eat fruits and vegetables. If the kids eat 50 fruits and vegetables by a certain date, they get a special token.

As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, my son does not eat many vegetables. Some raw carrots, some roasted sweet potatoes, and maybe some spinach leaves with a bit of ranch. However, maybe he’ll branch out a bit to get that special token!

One vegetable that I’m going to use in our meals the next few weeks is broccoli. It’s in season during the Spring so is a good time to buy it. I’m thinking I will serve it raw with hummus or a bit of ranch dressing. I may also serve it cooked as part of our Cheesy Pasta with Summer Veggies. Hopefully Parker will give it a try one of these ways and we can mark it on his chart!

You can save money by buying broccoli in whole heads rather than pre-cut pieces. If you’re not sure how to cut broccoli, watch our new video How to Prepare Broccoli.

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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Broccoli Salad

broccoli-saladThis time of year I know that I need to eat fewer treats and a lot more vegetables. I have a sweet tooth plus pregnancy cravings for chocolate, so it takes a lot of willpower for me to avoid the dessert table at holiday meals and parties. I can easily fill up on sweets so that I am not hungry for the nutritious foods that my baby and I need. One solution to my problem is our recipe of the month for December, Broccoli Salad.

This Broccoli Salad recipe satisfies my sweet tooth with the combination of a lightly sweet dressing and dried fruit. On top of that, it gets me the nutrition packed broccoli that I need. I get the sweetness I want and the vegetables I need in one simple recipe!

Here are some other great things about this recipe that cannot be ignored:

  • It stores well in an airtight container the refrigerator. For some, it may even taste better after a day or two because the flavors have a chance to mingle.
  • It is a quick and easy dish to take along to holiday meals or parties.
  • It can easily be packed in small containers to put in lunch bags for a side dish.
  • It is inexpensive and it will cost even less this spring when broccoli is in season.

Try out our Broccoli Salad to add vegetables to your meals this holiday season.

Broccoli Salad

Serving Size: 1 cupbroccoli-salad-label
Serves: 7
Cost Per Serving: $0.56
Ingredients: 
  • 1 bunch broccoli
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1/3 cup light mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • 3 tablespoons cider or white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced (1/2 medium onion)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
Instructions: 
  1. Cut 1/2″ off bottom of the broccoli stem and discard. Peel the outer layer of the stem. Chop the tender inner portion of the broccoli and florets.
  2. Mix sugar, salt, mustard, and mayonnaise together in a large bowl. Add vinegar and stir with a wire whisk or fork.
  3. Add the broccoli, red onion, and raisins.
  4. Stir until mixture is coated with dressing. Serve salad immediately or store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator. Store salad for up to 4 days.
Tips: 
  • Choose broccoli with green (not yellow) stems and florets.
  • A bunch of broccoli usually has 2 to 3 stalks and weighs about 1 1/2 pounds. It should make 6 to 7 cups of chopped stems and florets.
  • You may use sweet white or yellow onions instead of red.
  • Wash broccoli and onion under running water.
Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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Cheesy Pasta with Summer Veggies

Our yummy Cheesy Pasta with Summer Veggies recipe is filled with vegetables, whole grain, and is low in calories.  Plus it is very versatile, so you can use any vegetable that you have on hand.  In the summer I make it with garden vegetables such as broccoli, zucchini, peppers, carrots and fresh tomatoes.  In the winter I use a frozen vegetable mix and drained, canned tomatoes.   If I have some leftover meat or beans in the refrigerator, I add that along with the vegetables.

 

Notice the pasta we use is whole wheat.   In the past few years the quality of whole grain pastas has increased and is now quite good.  Whole grain pastas take a little longer to cook and the texture is a little different, but the nutritional improvement is definitely worth it.  Check out the great nutritional value you get from the 250 calories in this recipe.

Cheesy Pasta with Summer Veggies

Serves: 6
Serving Size: 1 ½ cups
Per Serving: $1.07

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups sliced, assorted vegetables (zucchini, broccoli, peas)
  • 1 cup grape or fresh tomatoes, chopped and seeds removed
  • 8 ounces whole-wheat pasta (rotini, bow tie, penne)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped (about 1/2 medium onion)
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Wash and prepare vegetables.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain water from cooked pasta and save 1/4 cup of water.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet as pasta cooks. Add garlic and onion to skillet. Sauté over medium heat about 1-2 minutes or until soft.
  4. Add any uncooked hard vegetables and cook for 3 minutes. Add soft vegetables and continue to cook. Add Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Add tomatoes last and cook until warm.
  5. Add cooked drained pasta to the vegetables. Add a little of the water from the pasta if needed.
  6. Add cheeses to mixture. Stir until cheese is mostly melted.
  7. Serve immediately.

Ramen Noodle Skillet

Ramen Noodle Skillet was a hit with my kids when they were in school and it still is one of my favorite recipes.  I think the noodles were the attraction for them. I like it because you can use just about any vegetable that you have in your garden or vegetable drawer, only one pan gets dirty, and you can have the meal on the table in 15 minutes.


Meat is the more expensive part of meals in the US.  The bad news is that the money people are saving because of the gas price drop in recent weeks is likely to be offset by increased prices in beef, pork, and chicken.  USDA is predicting meat prices to increase 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent in 2012.

The Ramen Noodle Skillet recipe can help you stretch your meat dollar.  If you have leftover chicken, pork chop, or roast, you can store them in the freezer instead of letting them dry out in the refrigerator.  When you have about 2 cups, thaw, for Ramen Noodle Skillet and you have another meal without additional meat expense.

Ramen Noodle Skillet

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped (about 1 medium onion)
  • 1 carrot, chopped or sliced into small pieces
  • 2 cups frozen broccoli stir-fry vegetable mixture, thawed
  • 2 cups cooked meat or poultry cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 (3-ounce) package beef-flavored instant ramen noodles, broken into pieces

Directions:

  • Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and carrots and sauté until soft (about 5 minutes).
  • Thaw the broccoli mixture in the microwave and drain.
  • Add the broccoli and cooked meat to the skillet. Stir and heat (about 1-2 minutes).
  • Add the noodle seasonings to the water and stir into the pan.
  • Break apart the ramen noodles. Add to the skillet when the water simmers. Stir to moisten the noodles. Cover the skillet and cook until done (about 2 minutes).
  • Serve immediately.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use cooked meat and vegetables from other meals.
  • Substitute 1 pound of ground beef or turkey to yield two cups of meat.
  • Rinse cooked, crumbled ground beef with hot tap water to reduce fat by 50 percent.

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