Now for something completely different: Cooking Broccoli

From the department of How We Do One Thing...

Is how we do everything.

Let’s see if that is true. Is how we cook broccoli, how we do everything?

Eat your veggies. Five servings a day. If a serving is, generally speaking, half a cup, then we’re talking 2 1/2 cups per day. Per person. More if you’re bigger. Less if you’re not.

My kids are tired of steamed, so we’ve really gotten into roasting. They pushed me into it. Now I prefer roasted to steamed, but in the past it always seemed a big hoohaw to prep them that way. It’s not. Promise. I’m less likely to overcook the veggies using this method, too—for the win.

What if your digestive issues preclude vegetables? Roasted or otherwise.

There’s usually something we can find for you. We can dive into the low FODMAPS diet sometime, if you like. Let me know. A lot of veggies to avoid following that, but plenty to include. I know, I followed it for about a year.

I’m going to stick with a basic approach here and then we get to tweak it to suit our own individual predilections.

Grab some broccoli. Or green beans. Or zucchini. Fresh, not frozen. From your garden. From a farmer’s market. From a store. From a pile. From a bag.

Those are in order of Ideal to Yes, it’s fine.

Turn the oven to 425 degrees. Grab a baking sheet.

Now pause for a diversion: Let’s discuss the baking paraphernalia.

The surface of the pan will be touching the veggies.

We know that aluminum in the body is correlated with dementia. We know that aluminum migrates from cookware into food it touches. Especially if there’s an acid, like citrus or tomato, involved. Do you know if your baking tray is aluminum?

If so, let’s put a shield between the veggies and their cook surface. Grab some parchment paper. Do not grab aluminum foil. Read paragraph above for the reason why. Refer to article cited below if you don’t believe me.

I have a reusable sheet of parchment. Easy clean up. No aluminum. No waste.

I also have stainless steel baking trays to avoid the whole aluminum discussion, but they’re too big for my toaster oven, which is frequently what I use for a quick pan of roasted veggies.

So, veggies—check. Tray—check. Protection—check. Oven—check.

So far, so good.

Dump the veggies in a bowl or, if you’re like me and despise both cleaning up and waste: dump them in a cooking pot. I use my big ole cast iron mama. Workhorse. I don’t go anywhere without her. Love my cast iron Dutch oven.

Read the next step to see if you want to join me in the pot world (ha) or stay on the side of the bowls.

Sprinkle, very generously, your veggies with your favorite seasonings. It can be as simple as salt and pepper. Or garlic salt. An Italian blend. Taco seasoning. Curry powder.

If I have time, I add fresh garlic. I may combine veggies and add mushrooms and onions.

The trick is to only mix veggies with the same cook time.

Cauliflower takes longer than broccoli or green beans. Potatoes and carrots take longer. I don’t recommend mixing them with broccoli. Prepare them separately. Put the harder veggies in the oven earlier. Or add the broccoli to their pan halfway through cooking the carrots/potatoes/cauliflower.

Broccoli, green beans, zucchini, summer squash, mushrooms, onions (cut small) generally take 15 minutes at 425. Harder veggies at least 30 minutes.

After seasoning the veggies, douse them with extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil. Not dripping in it, but please not drying of thirst. Ha. We want the goodness of the oil to invite the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) out of the veggies and into our good bodies.

While the veggies rest in their bowl, or pot, as the case may be, I have another diversion.

Allowing garlic to rest after being crushed or chopped gives its immune-protective, body-healing, powers of allicin, time to mature. 10 minutes. Let fresh garlic sit by itself after you’ve abused the heck out of it. It gets all fired up when it’s attacked. Sitting lets it mellow and offer its resources fully to us. Garlic is so good to us after what we do to it.

Other veggies only need to rest 5 minutes between our attack on them and being full-force ready to eat; they must forgive more readily.

I’m not making this up. Well, the anthropomorphizing, yes, but it is true that, when first cut, vegetables create barriers to being fully available nutritionally. Letting them rest for 5, chills out the defenses and allows us access to the fresh enzymes and phytonutrients (phyto means plant). Five for the win.

Five servings. Five minutes rest. Five for the win.


So, by now the veggies have mellowed. Mix them up, if you haven’t, and spread them on the tray.

And, if you’re like me, you’ll use the now oily pot to cook something else, thus reducing by one what gets to be washed later. Boom.

That aside, let’s go back to the beginnings of our story. Back in simple broccoli- or bean-land. Seasoned. Oiled. Mixed. Rested. On the tray.

Pop into the 425 oven. Timer for 15 minutes. Boom.

If you’re a careful cook, stir them around halfway through. If you’re like me, you’re busily heating up leftovers or suddenly realizing the rest of the fam wants rice with the broccoli and leftover chicken, so the broccoli is on its own.

And it works. Almost every time. I used a mix of spices once that no one else enjoyed. It happens. They ate salad that night. But I’ve used adobo. I’ve used chilli powder. I’ve used that new-to-me Middle Eastern blend with sumac in it, starts with a Z...Za’atar. I use a Thai seasoning blend. A homemade Italian blend. I’ve added a squirt of lemon or lime. They’re all good.

As long as they have no added gunk. If the spices are clean, if the oil is high quality, if there’s no aluminum getting in, if the veggies are organic—especially green beans, zucchini, broccoli not as crucial—then it’s all good.

Whew. How we do one thing, am I right?

Even a simple process like roasting broccoli becomes an example of how we live our lives. The shortcuts we’re willing to take, or not. The details we want to be responsible for.

It can get complicated quickly. What parts am I willing to bless and move on from?

How does that show up in other parts of my life? What does it bring up for you?

Education. I’m all about diving in and peeling back as many layers of the proverbial—or literal, in this case—onion. I want to know Why. And then I move on.

So Hmm. Maintenance. I like to leave the broccoli to its own devices once I bung it in the oven.

Yes, maintenance of other aspects of my life can challenge me.

Interesting ponder. I declare a commitment to tracking ideal maintenance in my family life and my business life. Yes. I’m up for that. I’ve been working on it and now I see where the challenge comes from.

Interesting. I am not committing to flipping my broccoli every time I’m roasting, but I’m open to it.

So here’s me doing some maintenance:

B-is for the broccoli or other veggie you’re roasting.

R- is for letting the veggies rest 5 minutes to gather their full goodness (10 for garlic)

O-is for the organic extra-virgin, unfiltered olive oil, or as close as you can come to it. Single source. Otherwise this is where mafia funny-business can come in with olive oil cut with lesser quality oils. Can’t make this sheet up. Can also use avocado oil!

A-stands for NO aluminum.

S-for season generously.

T-toaster oven, or regular oven, at 425 degrees for 15 minutes with the softer veggies, 30-40 with the harder ones. Stir as desired.

Let me know what you think of this article/recipe and what you would like to hear about in the future.

Reference article:

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