I love my job! I get to learn new things all the time. For example, we all know that broccoli is good for us, but did you know that the different parts of the broccoli plant each make their own unique contribution to its overall nutritional value — and that nearly all parts of the plant are edible? Yes, even the leaves…

    Nutritionally, the florets contain more beta-carotene than the stalks, but the leaves actually are a richer source of beta-carotene than either the stems or florets. The stems have a mild sweet flavor and are much higher in fiber than the florets. You’ll likely need to peel off the tough outer layer of the stems before cooking or eating, but it’s worth the extra 30 seconds this process takes! 

    My research into cooking broccoli leaves yielded some interesting information. While I didn’t find many “recipes,” there were quite a few blogs from folks in San Francisco, New York, Florida, and Australia with great suggestions on preparing the leaves.

    One gal raved on about briefly boiling (3 minutes) the very large leaves and using them like she would to make stuffed cabbage. Another person finely chops the leaves and adds them to soups and sauces. Many commented on how they basically treat broccoli leaves like spinach, sautéing them with olive oil, shallots, etc. and serving them as a side dish or over pasta.

    The recipe I think I’ll try had them sautéed lightly and then topped with bacon bits and Parmesan cheese — similar to a hot spinach salad. Sounds yummy! If you get adventurous and discover a great way to use the leaves, please e-mail me at karendonaldson@cableone.net. I’ve got lots of leaves in my garden!

    Karen Donaldson, MS, RD, LD is a registered dietitian, personal trainer, and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) practitioner who specializes in helping people lose weight and keep it off. She can be reached at EXCEL Weight Loss Solutions at 233-0593.