When you type “broccoli” and “cancer” into the PubMed search field, you get 679 results – testament to broccoli’s cancer-busting antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties.
Research links it to a decreased risk of prostate cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer, and ovarian cancer, and studies into other types of cancer are ongoing. My family eats it at least twice a week – often more – and I would encourage you to do the same.
Sulforaphane, the molecule that gives brassicas their sharp taste, helps eliminate toxic compounds linked to the development of cancer and may trigger the self destruction (apoptosis) of some types of cancer cells. Among Brassicas, broccoli is the best source of sulforaphane. Sprouted broccoli seeds, sold in health-food shops but also easy to grow at home, are an even more concentrated source of this compound: they contain between 10 and 100 times more sulforaphane than broccoli.
Broccoli also contains a compound called indole-3-carbinol which has been found in laboratory studies to inhibit the development of cancers of the breast, stomach, colon, lung and liver, and may reverse pre-cancerous changes in the cervix. It may also affect estrogen activity and thus prevent estrogen-sensitive breast cancer. In addition, broccoli contains a flavonoid called kaempferol which has powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
If you want to eat more broccoli but are bored by plain, steamed (alas, often overcooked) florets, why not try these nifty little fritters? They’re actually a meal-in-one as they also contain protein (from the eggs), blood-sugar stabilizing starches (vegetables and coconut flour), lots of sating fiber (ditto) and coconut oil’s healthy fats. Eat them on their own or top them with guacamole and broccoli sprouts or a slice of raw salmon, sashimi-style. (Make sure any raw fish you eat is super-super fresh; if your immune system is weakened or you are pregnant, replace raw fish with wasabi-salmon mousse – recipe coming soon!).
It’s easy to double this recipe and freeze the fritters (separated by sheets of baking parchment for easy defrosting) for quick re-heating at a later date. Oh -- these make great lunch-box fillers too!
Broccoli and Carrot Fritters – Recipe (makes 10-12 fritters)
1 head (approx. 8 oz) baby broccoli, or “adult” broccoli, stems removed
1 grated carrot (grate on the coarse side of a box grater)
1 tbsp grated ginger root
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp coconut flour (available in health-food shops)
1 tbsp black sesame seeds
2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
juice of ½ lime
salt, freshly ground black pepper
2-3 tbsp coconut oil
In a medium pot fitted with a stainless steel steaming basket, bring an inch of water to boil; meanwhile, chop the broccoli with a long kitchen knife until you get coarse chunks resembling fine rubble. Steam the broccoli for 5 minutes, or until al dente. Drain in a colander and set aside.
While the broccoli is cooking, in a medium bowl beat the eggs with the grated carrot, grated ginger, crushed garlic, coconut flour, sesame seeds, cilantro and lime juice. Add the drained broccoli crumbs to this mixture and stir to mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
Gently melt the coconut oil in a large, cast-iron frying pan. Once it’s hot, spoon the broccoli batter into the pan – about two dessert spoons’ worth of batter per fritter. Cook for 2-3 minutes until golden, then flip with a spatula and cook the other side until golden.
Remove and drain off any excess fat onto kitchen paper; keep warm until all fritters are cooked, then serve immediately.
Copyright Conner Middelmann-Whitney. Conner is a nutritionist, cooking instructor (check out her anti-cancer cooking videos on YouTube) and author of Zest for Life, The Mediterranean Anti-Cancer Diet, a cancer-prevention nutrition guide and cookbook anchored in the traditional Mediterranean diet.