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Question on cooking broccoli

This has been plaguing me for the last 24 hours. I was watching the Today Show yesterday morning and Jillian Michaels (trainer from Biggest Loser) was on promoting her book & talking about good foods to eat.

She had a little demo set up with some broccoli and said that we should be eating microwaved broccoli to get the most nutrients out of it. Not raw, not steamed, but microwaved.
Huh?

Is this true? I have always thought microwaves zap the nutrients out.

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  1. It takes very little water to steam broccoli in the microwave - a tablespoon or 2 for a whole head, and it doesn't take long, so less it lost. I don't know how it could be more nutrient filled than raw, but as long as you don't over cook they stay in there.

    As for the stink that will permeate the place....

    6 Replies
    1. re: irishnyc

      Any cooking method other than boiling is fine, just as long as you don't overcook the vegetable. An overcooked vegetable is a dead vegetable. You should also be eating a good variety of raw and cooked vegetables, as any type of cooking will destroy compounds that are heat sensitive. I personally don't like microwaving fresh vegetables as it is very easy to overcook them in a microwave. You have to have a microwave with variable power settings to cook veggies well, and my microwave has only one power setting: ultra-high!

      I prefer a quick steam on the stove or a fast, hot stir-fry.

      1. re: rokzane

        But broccoli is one of the few vegetables that really doesn't develop its flavor until it's overcooked. Steamed broccoli is the most boring thing on earth, but broccoli that has been blanched, cut up and sauteed with garlic, capers, anchovy and red pepper flakes until it collapses into a fragrant, olive-drab mush - that's good eatin'.

        1. re: condiment

          I agree that sauteed broccoli is delicious -- addictive even, especially w/ garlic, anchovies and red pepper flakes (I think capers is over the top)
          However, I see no need to blanch first -- sautee, then add some water to cook the broccoli some more. Saves a step, plus you don't lose the nutrients to the blanching water.

          1. re: condiment

            You don't need to pre-blanch or pre-cook broccoli to saute it. The only reason for the pre-blanching is to preserve it's bright green color--which is the desired outcome in a professional kitchen. I love stir-fried broccoli, which is really a hot saute, with curry spices. I never pre-cook the broccoli first.

            Broccoli cooked until it turns into an olive-drab mush? That's gross--both in looks and flavor. Broccoli cooked with good technique should be deep green, tender to the bite with just a bit of crunch. Florets should be in tact, not mushy.

            1. re: rokzane

              I think it's an Italian method of cooking the broccoli.

              Here is just one of the many blog entries about about Silverton's long-cooked broccoli:
              http://nosheteria.com/2006/05/best-sa...

              1. re: jencounter

                It is indeed an Italian way to cook broccoli. And it's true - you don't have to blanch, although on the occasions where I don't, I tend to peel the stems, which is somewhat more work. But I maintain: crunchy broccoli is a crime.

      2. poor microwaves are so demonized. i find 30-45 seconds in a microwave as a fine way to cook almost any green veg. add a little salt, maybe some butter after. yum

        1. Microwaves preserve nutrients better than other cooking methods significantly. Here's a link to a NY Times article on a study Cornell University did to test this...Also there are some nutrients that we absorb better after they are cooked, e.g. lycopene.

          http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/17/hea...

          1. I think you should cook broccoli the way you enjoy eating it.

            What's the point of microwaving broccoli if you aren't going to like eating it and end up eating less of it?

            1. You have to think in the same way that TV producers and recipe writers do.

              If a person is promoting easy cooking (and promoting their book at the same time) you want to show the mass of America that you have the quickest, easiest way of doing things. Microwaving IS the quickest & easiest way, but do know that proper steaming is essentially the same as microwaving.

              1. I prefer microwaving because it's fast, retains the nutrients, and is good. Per McGee, there are some things to be aware of though - pieces need to be cut up in small, simlarly sized pieces and arrange in a single layer or loose pile. Since the microwave draws out water, the container needs to be in a nearly completely sealed dish with a very small amount of water. Lastly, he notes that some volatile chemicals that would typically escape during steam remain and have a flavor of themselves - some people dislike the taste (I prefer it) but it can be balanced with herbs and/or oils/butter.

                All vegetables are great - a minute or so in the microwave (mine has a sensor) and eaten plan for with a quick woosh in the saute pan with olive oil, pepper flakes, and lemon

                1. I think that both artichokes and corn on the cob done in the microwave are much better than boiled. Much much better! Just note the water left behind--it's FULL of flavor/color.

                  Broccoli, because it has both stems (which should always be peeled!) and florets, I treat like 2 different vegetables. I cook them seperately, but both in the microwave.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: blue room

                    oh I am dying for summer corn on the cob, and now that I learned the microwaving trick last summer it is so much more pleasant then a pot full of boiling water!