Friday, January 25, 2008

Glorious Crowns: Broccoli

I've never had qualms with broccoli; as a child, it was one of my favorites and a relief in the face of mystery vegetables like turnips and collard greens. Not only does its mild flavor go with everything from pasta to Thanksgiving dinner, but it has recently been shown to fight heart disease:

Researchers "gave broccoli extract to lab rats for one month and measured its effects on the rats' heart muscle. Compared to a control group that ate a regular diet, the broccoli-fed animals had improved heart function and less heart muscle damage when deprived of oxygen. Broccoli's heart-healthy effects are likely due to its high concentrations of certain substances that seem to boost levels of a heart-protective protein called thioredoxin, the researchers note." (Science Daily, Jan. 24 2008)

For a half cup serving of steamed broccoli, you're only doing in 27 calories for 3g, or 10% DV of fiber. It's also a significant source of vitamin A (24%), vitamin C (84%), and iron (3%). However, many people want more flavor in their food than plain steamed broccoli can provide, so here's a quick and easy way to integrate it into an old favorite; this is one of my staple weight loss foods in the summer, when squash is in season.

Baked Veggie Penne (serves 6)

8 oz package penne pasta, whole grain
3 small yellow squashes, cubed
1 cubed zuchinni
2c chopped raw broccoli
16 oz. jar marinara sauce
pinch of chili powder
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
1 tsp oregano
a pinch of basil & thyme
1c grated hard cheese (fontina, asiago, manchego, parmesan, romano, etc

1. put water on to boil in a large pot.
2. preheat oven to 4oo F.
3. once water begins to boil, add pasta and squash, broccoli, and zuchinni.
4. allow to cook until pasta and veggies are both tender, around 6-8 minutes.
5. in a separate saucepan, combine marinara, chili powder, garlic, and herbs over medium heat, reduce to low when the sauce simmers.
6. strain pasta and veggies, transfer to a medium-large sized baking pan. follow with marinara, top with grated cheese. bake for 10 minutes, or until slightly brown and bubbling.
7. allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, serve hot.

Nutrition Info:
16g protein, 8.6g fat, 55g carbs, 10g fiber, 356 calories overall.

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