Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 Superfoods Challenge Begins!

Today marks the beginning of the Superfoods Challenge! I hope you're ready for your very first Superfood today! Your challenge is to eat this Superfood at least once this week (more often is better!) and report back how you prepared it and whether or not you liked it. If this is a food you think you hate, try one of the different preparation methods listed. Many foods taste different/better when prepared various ways. If you hate it steamed, try it raw, roasted, sauteed, or mixed with other ingredients. I will give you preparation ideas for each Superfood. And if you already eat this Superfood regularly (or just plain don't like it prepared in any way), pick one of its Sidekicks to try this week. My goal for this week is to eat at least 3 servings of this week's Superfood or its sidekicks. Each Monday I will blog about one of the original 14 Superfoods, found in the book SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life. This book was published in 2006; a bunch of other Superfoods books have been published since then, and even the official Superfoods Rx website has added several more foods to the original 14 (and has gotten a little gimmicky/diet-pushing, in my opinion) but I am sticking with the originals for now. I prefer the straightforward, non-diet-gimmick approach of just adding the healthiest possible foods to our eating plans. After 14 weeks, I may go on to discuss the new, added "superfoods" since no doubt they, too, are nutritious. But for now, let's focus on the original 14, and how we can get them into our daily diet.
Now let's get started! This week's Superfood is a relatively common one: Broccoli. But this challenge will be far from boring. Read on!

Broccoli is one of the world's healthiest foods. It, and its sidekicks, are potent cancer fighters. Broccoli is loaded with nutrients: for only 30 calories per serving, you get 135% RDA of Vitamin C, 115% RDA of Vitamin K, 14% RDA of folate, 11% RDA of Vitamin A, 3.7% RDA of iron, 4.3% RDA of calcium, 2.37 grams of fiber, 2.57 grams of protein, and a myriad of other vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are beneficial to your health. Raw or lightly steamed broccoli is the most nutritious, but any way you prepare it, unless you deep fry it or dip it in chocolate, it is so very good for you!

Here are my favorite ways to eat broccoli:

Raw, dipped in hummus or light Ranch (the stems, even the big ones, are *delicious* if you peel them with a carrot peeler and slice them into sticks!)
Cut up and lightly steamed (5 minutes) with a bit of sea salt
Made into broccoli salad (I love this recipe, but I use low fat mayo and less bacon and sugar when I make it)
Roasted with olive oil and garlic. This is soooo good! I started using this recipe and it is amazing. On Medifast, I make roasted broccoli by measuring out 1.5 cups of florets, tossing with 1 sliced clove of garlic and 1 tsp olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for 15-20 minutes at 425 degrees. Yummy!
If you need a more adventurous way to eat your broccoli, here it is: Veggie Cereal. Believe it or not, this is delicious! I love it.
Here's a yummy Broccoli and Beef recipe that uses a sidekick, too!

Broccoli's Sidekicks are also cruciferous vegetables with a similar nutritional profile. You can read more about the health benefits of cruciferous vegetables here. Below I list Broccoli's sidekicks and some ideas for their preparation.

Brussels sprouts: these are EXCELLENT roasted, similar to broccoli. Here's a post from some time ago with photos and directions for roasting them: A New View of Brussels Sprouts. You can also steam them; they taste very similar to cabbage and make a great stir-fry when shredded.

Cabbage: I mainly enjoy this raw as a salad under tuna mixed with light mayo; I buy the shredded angel hair cabbage in a bag and just use it in salads. Sometimes I cook it, too. My favorite cabbage recipes from my blog are Cabbage Roll Casserole and Quick, Easy, Delicious Cabbage Soup.

Kale: I wrote a post on kale previously, here: Farmer's Market: Kale! That post includes recipes for Kale Chips and Winter Vegetable Hash. My absolute favorite way to eat kale is Kale with Ham and Onions. Seriously delicious. And last week, I tried kale raw in a salad. I will share that recipe with pictures later this week.

Turnips: I have very little experience with these. I have boiled them, mashed them, and roasted them. I am not a big fan; if you have a favorite way to prepare turnips or a recipe, please share it in the comments! I am open to trying again. I do like the greens, though. They are yummy steamed or sauteed with olive oil and garlic.

Cauliflower: this is probably my most-eaten vegetable, and one of my favorites! It is great raw with hummus or Light Ranch. I love it steamed. But what I usually do is this. I buy a head of cauliflower and quarter it. I cut off the big stems and throw them out (they have the strongest "cauliflowery" flavor and smell; the florets are milder). I cut the rest into bite sized chunks and put them in a big glass bowl with 1/4 cup of water. I cover it with plastic wrap and microwave it for about 6 minutes, then stir and if they are not fork-tender yet, microwave another 2 or 3 minutes. You do NOT want it mushy, just tender. I then cool it and keep it in the fridge for use in my favorite recipes, including:

Cauliflower Pizza (I just mash the cooked cauliflower and use it in the crust)

Cauliflower "Potato" salad

Loaded Baked "Potato" Soup

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Low Carb Split Pea Soup

Mashed "Potatoes"

"Tortellini" Soup

Cauliflower "Rice"

Cauliflower is a low carber's best friend! As you can see, I've used it as a healthier, low carb substitute for pasta, rice, potatoes, and even split peas. It is so versatile! Love the stuff!

Collards: these can be prepared in the same way as kale in the "ham and onions" recipe above, by simmering for a long time to make them tender. They are very good!

Mustard Greens: same as collards in preparation.

Swiss Chard: These don't take as long to cook as Collards or some other greens, but are similar in taste. I did a post on chard and its preparation here: Swiss Chard.

Bok choy: I love bok choy! This Chinese cabbage is yummy in all kinds of Chinese dishes. If you can find baby bok choy, it is even more tender and delicious! I did a post with recipes and pictures here: Baby Bok Choy with Cashews, and Baby Bok Choy with Bacon.

Those are the sidekicks. I hope you'll try some this week! The Superfoods book recommends eating 1/2 to 1 cup of broccoli or its sidekicks daily. With all those recipes and suggestions, I'm sure you can find some delicious ways to include them in your diet this week. Good luck, and let me know how you did!

*p.s. I am starting a thread over at my BlogFrog community forum. Please come and share your preparation ideas and recipes for these Superfoods this week! Thanks for sharing!


Anonymous said...

I LOVE broccoli and cauliflower. I will definitely be trying some of your recipes. :D

I'll have steamed broccoli for lunch in about 10 minutes, as a matter of fact. (Not that that's a new recipe.)

WAhoo, 2012. We're gonna do this thing.


Anonymous said...

On my way to the store to pick up broccoli and cauliflower! I rarely eat broccoli so I'm going to try the roasted with garlic and olive oil and see how that is. I'm excited about making the lean and green fun and interesting.

Jane said...

I am so excited for this! One of my goals for this year was to get into vegetables a little more. Thank you so much! I joined the community at BlogFrog, and I am going to make a new dish with broccoli and post about it!

Kyle Gershman said...

I've got broccoli in the crisper ready for something this week...since I'm doing the Vegan kickstart, it'll probably end up steamed with nutritional yeast (like a parm cheese sub) as flavoring. As a sidekick, though, Kale is the star for me. I make green juices with it regularly that most always include carrot, apple, and beets.

Anonymous said...

I like turnips prepared as baked " French fries".There's many recipes online, but all I really do is cut them up, drizzle lightly with olive oil and seasonings, and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or so. Very yummy! I don't peel them and I think they turn out great. Most recipes say to peel though. I'm not picky! :)

Bobbie said...

I won't have any trouble with this one. I have already had Kale yesterday. And I have cabbage and cauliflower and broccoli in the fridge for the rest of the week. The broccoli/cauliflower salad is one of my very favorites.

spunkysuzi said...

I added spinach to my dinner thinking it was on the list :) Oh well I'll buy some broccoli tomorrow!

Lyn said...


spinach *is* a Superfood! Just not THIS week's superfood! :) I am going to mess you up by not going in order, lol. Maybe I will tweet/FB next week's Superfood a few days early so people can shop!

spunkysuzi said...

It's all good! I'm going to try not to miss one of the superfoods.
I've also got a great start on my fitness program :)

beerab said...

Yum to all you posted- I ate a ton of broccoli over December :) I love roasted broccoli, broccoli in a stir fry, etc. And don't get my started on cauliflower- I can eat a whole head RAW in one sitting- course I don't do that anymore- too much fiber in one sitting! lol!

April said...

I'm on a big broccoli kick...I've been roasting it for a while but I found a great recipe on Pinterest to roast the broccoli with evoo, sea salt and pepper then when it's done add a little more evoo and toss in parmesan cheese...sooo good! And...on GMA last week Emeril said to simmer cauliflower in chic broth until fork tender then roast with s&p and then sprinkle with parmesan...not as good as the broccoli but good to change up sometimes...


Jenn said...

It's been so long since I last ate broccoli, but I will try to eat some this week. Its other sidekicks, I tend to eat once in a while, so I think I will do good for this challenge.:)

Good luck to all of us.


Cathy said...

This is an easy one, we had broccoli tonight! I am going to try your roasted broccoli though. We eat many veggies roasted, but not broccoli. Also I am going to pick up some shredded cabbage and try it with a honey mustard dressing.

Cathy said...

This is an easy one, we had broccoli tonight! I am going to try your roasted broccoli though. We eat many veggies roasted, but not broccoli. Also I am going to pick up some shredded cabbage and try it with a honey mustard dressing.

Deb said...

Thanks for doing this! I read the book a few years ago. Will be a great way to challenge myself to get more healthy foods in. Count me in!

Anonymous said...

Yay! This sounds exciting! Quick question: do you plan on reposting the post about the "letter to yourself for the new year"? Thanks!

Lyn said...


oh hey! I forgot all about that! I will put that into a post this week. What a great idea, thank you :)

Anonymous said...

I went to the store and bought broccoli and everything for the cauliflower soup. I made the soup and it was delicious! I never would have thought cauliflower could be so good! Thanks for posting the recipe.

Anonymous said...

Yes...totally had steamed broccoli last night! Tried a recipe online ( but modified it a bit as did some of the recipe reviewers. Steamed it and then added some of the dressing WITHOUT the salt, and, actually, a little less of the oil and other spices as well. Was definitely crisp, refreshing, and great with lemon-pepper baked salmon.

Jennneil said...

Brussel sprouts are my favorite!! I love to just roast them with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.
Today, I did have brocolli. I ate it as a snack with picante sauce. I love it that way. I want to learn how to cook kale. I want to learn how to make mashed califlower instead of mashed potatoes. And I want to learn to eat turnip greens. I grew up on them but haven't had them as an adult. I'm excited about the 2012 Superfood Challenge!!! Yay!

Anonymous said...

Oh I so love this post, Lyn. It is coincidental for me as I purchased beautiful brussels and a bunch of collards yesterday. I put the collards in a pot of lentil soup. The green color paired with the brown lentils is not only pretty but tasty.

Thanks for sharing the cauliflower recipes. Cauliflower is something I rarely cook and I think it is the perfect candidate to expand my palate.

Have a super duper Tuesday!

~Mrs. Chupchake (Vanessa Joy)

lisa~sunshine said...

I too love this superfood and most of the sidekicks.. I had cauliflower yesterday which I love mashed with a wedge of light garlic laughing cow cheese and some plain greek yogurt mixed in.. it's a comfort food for me.. I also make the cauliflower pizza and cauliflower rice.. I've tried the turnips as fries and didn't like them much.. when slicing they have a radish smell to me but I did notice when eaten that goes away a bit.. but still not a favorite..
I'm loving the superfood challenge already..

Anonymous said...

This will be great to watch. Superfoods=Awesome. Happy New Year!

Undercover Dieting said...

I want to join, too! I've already had broccoli today, but that doesn't count because that was BEFORE knowing it was this week's superfood. So that just gives me a reason to eat even more of it!

spunkysuzi said...

O.k I went to the store today and bought broccoli and swiss chard. I've planned to make my mini egg quiches in the morning and I'm going to be add some of each. With a little bacon and cheese they are going to be scrumptious!!

spunkysuzi said...

I loved the quiche with the swiss chard and broccoli :)

Anonymous said...

well i learned to love vegetables through the past two years, thank god.

i am up to new recipes and love cooking so i am gonna try yours soon.

about turnips, you know i tasted once a pickled turnips, and a stuffed turnips ( it was stuffed with rice, ground meat,and seasoned with cumin,cinnamon,salt,black pepper, and cooked in tahini sauce. both are yummy;) but not working for diet purposes...

i don't think you can do much things with it.

spunkysuzi said...

Turnip chips :)

junkfoodkids said...

I am working with superfoods as well!! I really liked you post.

Anonymous said...

How awesome - THIS was the book that changed my life. 75 lbs down, 7 years maintenance. Yay Dr. Pratt! -Glory87

Lyn said...


I am 99% sure it was YOU who told me about this book! Actually didn't tell me directly but I read your post about it on 3fc and that is why I bought the book. That was way back before I even started blogging. So thank you for the inspiration :)