Broccoli doesn’t have to be dull and boring. Sure, popping a few florets in the microwave gives you a low-calorie, fiber-rich side for your entree, but you may get bored of that flavor time after time. Get familiar with the spice aisle at the grocery store and try out some different tastes. They all have their own health benefits, and your palate will be pleasantly surprised.
Herbs and Spices
You can vary the flavor of your cooked broccoli side dish by using blends of herbs and spices. Mix together chopped marjoram and basil -- either dried or fresh, depending on availability -- and add a touch of onion powder and cinnamon to the concoction as well. Cinnamon isn't just a flavorful addition: it can help lower high cholesterol and stabilize you blood sugar if you have Type 2 diabetes, reports "Fitness" magazine. For a little added flair, boil broccoli florets in vegetable broth instead of plain water -- just use a low-sodium variety to minimize excess sodium intake. You’ll get a burst of flavor and add only a minuscule amount of extra calories.
To do something out of the ordinary to season up a side of broccoli, head over to the produce department and pick up an orange. Zest the orange rind and drizzle the broccoli with the freshly squeezed orange juice before popping it in the microwave. Toss the cooked broccoli with the orange zest, freshly cracked black pepper and a few shakes of cayenne pepper if you can handle the heat. Cayenne pepper is made from dried and ground chili peppers that are full of capsaicin. A 2009 study conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and published in “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” found that capsaicin alters fat metabolism, causing fat to break down. Capsaicin can give you a little extra fat loss, particularly around your abdominal area, according to the researchers.
Add a touch of Cajun flair to your plate by seasoning your broccoli with a Creole blend. These blends contain onion and garlic powder, salt, black and white pepper, cayenne pepper and paprika, as well as dried oregano, basil and thyme. Use a touch of olive oil and sprinkle the Creole blend onto cooked broccoli until you get just the right amount of zing. The powerful antioxidant blend from all these herbs and spices wards off damaging free radicals that would otherwise harm healthy cells throughout your body and increase your risk for developing chronic diseases.
If you're already preparing garlic-themed dish, add a little minced garlic to your steamed broccoli as well. Garlic disrupts the growth of cancer cells, possibly reducing your risk of the chronic illness, explains Karen Collins, a registered dietitian with the American Institute for Cancer Research. Finish your garlic broccoli with a drizzle of fresh lemon juice, olive oil and black pepper.
- Cooks.com: Herb Seasoned Broccoli
- AllRecipes.com: Bright and Zesty Broccoli
- Taste of Home: Cajun Spiced Broccoli Recipe
- AllRecipes.com: Easy Lemon and Garlic Broccoli
- Fitness: Spice of Life: Health Benefits of Spices and Herbs
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Effects of Novel Capsinoid Treatment on Fatness and Energy Metabolism in Humans: Possible Pharmacogenetic Implications.
- AllRecipes.com: Creole Seasoning Blend
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.