Vegetable Hacks for Broccoli and Kale
What if you could eat the same amount of the superstar vegetables broccoli and kale and get double, triple and even ten times the fighting power from them into your body? No special ingredients required, not even extra time needed. All you need is a little planning, maybe some mustard powder and creativity.
Broccoli and kale are talked a lot about from nutritionists and health experts. Their secret power in comes from compounds called glucosinolates. These compounds are great at fighting off cancer and are heart-protective too. The glucosinolates in these two cruciferous vegetables combine with an enzyme that is released only when the vegetables are chopped.
Chopped means chopping them with a knife or you can chew the vegetable in your mouth to break them up. I don’t recommend this because you would need to hold the vegetable in your mouth chewing for a while to get the most out of the chewing action.
Super Power Properties
More on these super powers in broccoli and kale. The chopping releases an enzyme called myrosinase that is tucked away in the cells. Once you start chopping away it is released to do its good work.
This enzyme myrosinase works with the glucosinolates to form the tough fighting weapons sulforaphane and indoles. Hang with me, I know this is a lot of chemistry.
These scientific sounding words sulforaphanes and indoles are part of a class of compounds called isothiocynates. These isothiocynates are amazing for fighting heart disease, cancer, inflammation and more. No more chemistry, I promise.
I know this is a little complicated but it is key you understand you need to chop or tear to get the most from this powerful process.
Here is a diagram to help make this easier to understand.
Sounds straight forward, chop your broccoli and kale before eating. Yes, but there is more. How long should you chop and let the vegetables sit to get the most out of this powerful reaction? You want to let the vegetable rest (sit) for at least 10 minutes and 40 minutes is even better. This allows more of the sulforaphanes to develop before you eat them or heat them up.
Cooking these special cruciferous vegetables or exposing them to your stomach acid (so swallowing them) destroys the enzyme myrosinase that you need for this special reaction.
What if I Don’t Have 10 or 40 Minutes?
So true. Many of us don’t have the luxury of 10 minutes or 40 minutes for meal prep. I often chop my vegetables and go enjoy a glass of wine. So 10 minutes is doable for me most evenings, but 40 minutes weekday nights nearly impossible.
There is good news. These is a work around. Go ahead and prepare the broccoli or kale as you normally would (heating it up), but just before serving and after it is done cooking either add a little bit of mustard powder (around ¼ teaspoon for a up to seven cups of broccoli or kale) or add in ¼ teaspoon daikon radish (white Japanese variety of radish), radish, horseradish, or wasabi—all are cruciferous vegetables packed with the needed enzyme—works as well as the chopping and resting hack.
Another trick is to add in a small amount of fresh cruciferous broccoli or kale to your vegetable, because the raw form is packed with myrosinase enzyme that can convert glucosinolates in the cooked vegetable to form isothiocynates.
I have another diagram to put together all the pieces for this important reaction with food to give you more fighting power.
Bottom Line: To get the most out of kale and broccoli, or any cruciferous vegetable, implement ONE of these hacks
1. Chop (or tear) and let the vegetable sit for 10 – 40 minutes before eating or cooking.
2. Just before serving the cooked and finished vegetable dish, add in ¼ teaspoon of mustard powder.
3. Just before serving the cooked and finished vegetable dish, add in a little bit of fresh broccoli, kale or another cruciferous vegetable (radish, horseradish, wasabi, cabbage, etc.).
I know this is a lot to take in. To make it easier, I have put together a bonus with 10 tips on using the hacks I shared in this post to unleash the super powers of broccoli and kale. Just read through the list and circle one of the food prep tips that you want to do. Most of them are easy enough that you can do them with little to no planning.
Remember, you boost the fighting power of broccoli and kale by ten times or more by doing these simple food prep tips.