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Happy Healthy Newsletter: Broccoli

By Samantha Willcutt, MSU Extension Service

Broccoli is a super vegetable that can be enjoyed raw or cooked, alone as a yummy side, or added to salads or cooked dishes like pastas, soups, stir-fries, and casseroles. If you are not a fan of raw broccoli, try blanching, which makes broccoli more tender and less bitter. Use the following tips to help your family enjoy more broccoli!


  • When selecting broccoli, look for tight, dark green florets and firm stems.

  • Avoid broccoli with an odor or yellow, opening buds.

  • In Mississippi, purchase fresh broccoli in April and May or October and November when it is less expensive and more available.

  • During the off-season, choose frozen broccoli, which may cost less than fresh.


  • Make bite-sized pieces by cutting below the top and removing the stem. Cut the florets and stem into pieces.

  • Rinse bite-sized pieces just before using.

  • Be careful not to overcook broccoli! Crispy, tender broccoli is what you are looking for, not mushy, soft broccoli.


  • Keep fresh broccoli in an open plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

  • If you have produce drawers in your refrigerator, keep vegetables in one and fruits in another.

  • Fresh broccoli can be blanched and frozen to keep color, flavor, and nutrients longer.

  • To learn more about storing, blanching, and freezing broccoli, visit HappyHealthy.MS and click on Tips and Videos.

    • How to Store Fruits and Vegetables

    • How to Freeze Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Fun with Food

Children Can Help

  • At the grocery store, allow children to select broccoli.

  • In the kitchen, children can wash broccoli and prepare an ice bath to place broccoli in after blanching.

Children Can Learn

  • Raw or blanched broccoli makes a quick and easy snack and is fun to eat with healthy dips.

  • The florets are the flowers of the broccoli plant, so they are eating flowers!

Broccoli and Vegetable Dip


- 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream

- 1/3 cup chunky salsa

- 3 tablespoons green onions, cut into small pieces

- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  1. Wash your hands well with soap and hot water.

  2. Rinse green onions under cool water. Cut roots off white ends of onions. Cut tips off green ends.

  3. Cut onions into small pieces.

  4. Place the sour cream, salsa, green onions, and garlic powder into a small bowl. Stir until they are mixed together.

Chicken Broccoli Skillet


- 2 teaspoons oil

- 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (1-1/2 pounds)

- 1 teaspoon black pepper

- 1 (14-1/2-ounce) can low-sodium chicken broth

- 3/4 cup water

- 1 (10-1/2-ounce) can low-sodium condensed cream of chicken soup

- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)

- 2 cups small shell pasta, uncooked

- 2 cups chopped frozen broccoli

- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) cheese, optional

  1. Wash your hands well with soap and hot water.

  2. Heat oil in a skillet on medium-high heat.

  3. Cut chicken into 1-inch cubes; add chicken to skillet and sprinkle with black pepper. Turn chicken until cooked thoroughly, about 3–5 minutes.

  4. Wash your hands well with soap and hot water after handling raw chicken.

  5. Sanitize the cutting board and knife used to cut the chicken.

  6. Add chicken broth, water, cream of chicken soup, garlic, pasta, and frozen broccoli to the skillet. Stir gently to mix.

  7. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until pasta is tender.

  8. Sprinkle cheese on top before serving.

  9. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

How to Blanch Broccoli

  1. Wash your hands well with soap and hot water.

  2. Use 1 gallon of water for every pound of broccoli.

  3. Pour rinsed broccoli pieces in a pot of boiling water. Bring to boil again.

  4. Let broccoli cook for 1 to 11/2 minutes until bright green. Remove pot from heat.

  5. Quickly place broccoli into a large bowl filled with ice water. Leave broccoli in the ice water for 2–3 minutes.

  6. Transfer the broccoli to a colander and allow to drain.

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