By Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
Looking for a broccoli slaw recipe that's easy to make? Look no further than this broccoli slaw salad! Whip it up in just minutes for a simple broccoli salad.
I'm all about fast, easy, and delicious meals. Enter this super easy healthy broccoli slaw recipe. I'm certain your family will love it as much as mine does.
The Many Benefits of Broccoli
Broccoli is one of my favorite foods. You may be thinking that as a registered dietitian, I have to say that. But really, it makes my top food list (along with my other staple, Greek yogurt).
I love the crunch of broccoli cooked al dente—and how it sops up the flavor of veggie broth or low-sodium soy sauce when sautéed. I also love the crunch of broccoli stems. All in all, broccoli is a tasty and filling veg, at 89% water/
And research by Johns Hopkins scientists, published in Cancer Prevention Research, amps up broccoli’s potential attributes: It may help lower your risk of cancer.
In the study, 291 healthy adults in China—a country known for high-level exposure to air pollutants—were separated into two groups. One group drank a juice daily for three months made of broccoli sprout (the baby version of mature broccoli) powder, pineapple juice and lime juice. The other group drank a placebo beverage made of pineapple juice, lime juice, water and molasses.
The people sipping the broccoli drink excreted significantly higher amounts of two carcinogenic air pollutants: benzene and
acrolein, both linked with lung cancer.
The broccoli sprout juice contained the phytonutrients glucoraphanin and sulforaphane, which may help excrete cancer-causing pollutants. “
By increasing levels of protective enzymes in our bodies, pollutants are chemically transformed to molecules that are excreted more quickly,” explains Thomas Kensler, PhD, co-author of the study. “The less time the pollutants have in the body, the less time for mischief.”
Pollutants are most likely to be excreted from parts of the body with higher cell turnover—such as the lungs, skin and
liver—versus, say, fat cells, in which toxins from past exposures have been stored.
Now, you may be wondering how this links back to you, since there’s a big chance that (like me!) you aren’t going to prepare and drink broccoli-sprout juice daily. So let’s talk science for a moment.
Both broccoli sprouts and broccoli contain the phytonutrients that were found to help excrete air pollutants in the study, although broccoli sprouts are packed with between 10 and 100 times the amount found in mature broccoli.
To get the dose of phytonutrients that the study participants consumed daily, you’d need to eat about 3 cups broccoli daily or ¼ cup broccoli sprouts (available in some grocery and health food stores, about $3 per 2 cups).
Note that this is a rough estimate, since phytonutrient content of broccoli depends on many factors—including where and when
the broccoli was grown and how it was harvested, shipped and stored.
There is no magic bullet for good health, but could broccoli help you stay healthy? Very possibly, as part of a meal plan that includes other equally important vegetables. If you feel you were exposed to a particularly high amount of air pollutants, have an extra serving or two of broccoli that day.
And cancer fighting or not, broccoli can certainly help you get the vitamins and minerals you need: 1 cup, for instance, contains more than 100% of your daily need for immune-helping vitamin C, plus 14% of your daily need for folate, important for pregnant women.
Should You Cook Broccoli?
I’ve been thinking a lot about broccoli cooking, as I’ve been reading up on the best way to cook it for maximum nutrient retention. A survey by nutritional ingredient company Brassica Protection Products found that 76% of Americans most enjoy cooked broccoli versus raw—and for people who cook their broccoli, 39% do so for 10 minutes or more.
Cooking broccoli for this length of time can decrease its nutritional offerings. One study shows that the amount of immunity-helping vitamin C in broccoli decreases continually with longer cooking times.
When boiled for 5 minutes, broccoli loses 62% of its vitamin C; that number continues to decrease at 10 minutes. When broccoli is microwaved for 1 minute, it loses 53% of its vitamin C; and this number grows when microwaved for longer.
Cooking also affects the amounts of phenols, a type of antioxidant that may help prevent disease, in broccoli. When broccoli was boiled for 5 minutes, the phenolic content decreased by 28%, progressing to 47% at 10 minutes and 60% at 20 minutes.
When microwaved, phenolic content decreased by 38% at 2 minutes but did not significantly change at 1 and 5 minutes.
Other research has found steaming to best preserve the phenols in broccoli, as well as glucosinolates—compounds containing sulfur that are thought to have many health benefits, including support of the body’s detoxification system.
So the bottom line on cooking broccoli? A short cook is best to retain maximum nutrients—and microwaving may even increase amounts of vitamin C, while steaming is best to preserve it. If you sauté, cook in a small amount of liquid so that no nutrients seep out into water that you will toss.
I'm also gathering from this research that it may be most beneficial to eat your broccoli raw. And you'll get those raw broccoli benefits in the broccoli slaw salad recipe that follows!
How to Make Broccoli Slaw
Now that you've learned all about the benefits of broccoli, it's time to chat about whipping up this broccoli slaw recipe. What is broccoli slaw? It's basically julienned broccoli stems.
It's so easy to make with bagged broccoli slaw mix. But you can also peel and julienne broccoli stems, using a mandolin. If you do the latter method and make the most of those broccoli stalks, you're helping to reduce food waste!
And when it comes to the dressing ingredients for this broccoli slaw recipe, they're pretty simple. All you need is rice vinegar (you can also use wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar), olive oil, honey, and salt and pepper to taste. I prefer a vinaigrette to a creamy dressing for this recipe.
The shredded broccoli recipe resembles coleslaw but is a much lighter side dish! Plus, you get more than 1/2 a cup of healthy fats from the nuts and seeds, and these help to keep you fuller for longer.
If you've never had flax seeds in salad, you will love the crunch of the ingredient! Using hemp seeds adds even more crunch to this flaxseed salad.
The beauty of this broccoli salad recipe is that you can alter the ingredients based on what you have on hand. If you'd like even more crunch, you can throw in a couple of Tablespoons of sunflower seeds.
Feel free to add diced red onion for extra tang, and dried cranberries also make a nice addition. You can also sub in toasted almonds for the almond slivers, if you prefer. And if you have lemon juice on hand, you can feel free to squeeze a little into the salad.
When it comes to broccoli slaw nutrition, each serving of this broccoli slaw salad recipe is only 210 calorie. I really think you'll love this recipe! It pairs well with other sides, such as potato salad. Ready to get cooking?
More Ways to Add Produce to Your Plate
One of my favorite suggestions and an easy way to increase nutrition is to add more produce to your plate. Of course, these fruits and veggies should be prepared in healthy ways!
Two of my favorite ways to do so are cooking onions and mushrooms in low-sodium vegetable broth and occasionally swapping out whole grains like brown rice for starchy veggies like butternut squash or pumpkin. Filling up on the fiber from veggies may extend the time between meals, which means you may eat less.
Because I wanted to share even more ideas with you, I reached out to my dietitian colleagues for their best ideas. Here you go:
Double the Portion
“If you are cooking a dish with any vegetable, double or triple the portion of vegetables,” says Christy Wilson, RDN, nutrition counselor at the University of Arizona Campus Health Service. “It's a simple way to up the amount of vegetables in the dish and on your plate!”
Bulk Up Omelets
Have Fruits and Veggies at Snack Time
“Incorporate a fruit or vegetable into your snack,” suggests Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN, author of 365 Snacks for Every Day of the Year. “Enjoy fruit with a serving of nuts, reduced-fat cheese, or low-fat yogurt. Have some veggies with a hummus dip. You can mix low-fat cottage cheese with fruits or veggies.”
Pack Produce for Lunch
“Put fresh fruits and veggies in your lunch bag,” recommends Jennifer Bowers, PhD, RD, owner of Dr. Jenn Bowers Nutrition. “I find I am more likely to eat them this way, especially if I pack my favorites. There's something about being at work, feeling a bit hungry, and reaching for the closest remedy—a juicy apple or crunchy bell pepper strips.”
Make a Fruity Sandwich
“I love to add fruit to a sandwich, but not in the way that you would expect,” says Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD, a dietitian in New York City. “I make an untraditional grilled cheese with fruit mixed into the cheese, like a grilled strawberry and goat cheese sandwich or a grilled cheese with cheddar and apple. The sweet fruit balances really well with the savory cheese.”
Make Veggies the Star of Your Plate
“Instead of focusing on the meat for your meal, focus on a variety of seasonal veggies, whether it's zucchini, kale, butternut squash, or fennel,” says Sharon Palmer, RDN, author of The Plant-Powered Diet. “Think of creative ways to showcase these, whether it's roasted, stir-fried, or in a soup, salad, or pasta dish.”
Start with Salad
“We've made it a habit to have a salad each night as a first course for our dinner,” says Elana Natker, MS, RD. “It's easy to do if you prep at one time, then simply assemble each night. Buy the veggies you like and only enough to last one week. Cut them up, and place them in individual containers. Then just assemble and serve!”
Add Fruit to Almost Any Dish
“Fruit pairs well with a lot of different Asian dishes,” says nutrition blogger Rebecca Clyde, MS, RDN. “You can easily add pineapple and citrus to nearly any Asian dish.”
Don’t Follow the Recipe Verbatim
“When making a stir-fry that asks for carrots and broccoli, feel free to add other veggies like spinach, celery or corn,” says Charlene Pors, RD, owner of Euphoria Nutrition. “The same rule applies for other meals such as pasta dishes, quesadillas, and frittatas. Not only will this add to the taste and nutrition of your meals, but it will also help clean out your fridge.”
Stir it Into Soup
Roast in Advance
“I love meal prepping big trays of veggies like zucchini, eggplant and bell peppers and roasting them in the oven,” says Christy Brissette, MS, RD, author of Everyday Low Carb. “Then they're ready to layer up on sandwiches or chop and add to frittatas, pilafs and salads.”
Look to Spiralized Veggies
“Replacing half the spaghetti or noodles in a dish with spiralized zucchini is a great way to up the veggie content and keep carb portions in check,” recommends Jessica Cording, MS, RD, author of The Little Book of Game Changers.
Helpful Kitchen Tools
This blog post was updated in June 2020. A version of this article originally appeared on WeightWatchers.com.
Let me know how you’re enjoying this broccoli salad recipe!
Healthy Broccoli Slaw Salad with Flaxseeds and Hemp Seeds
- 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 12 ounces broccoli slaw mix
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1 plum tomato, diced
- 2 Tablespoons slivered almonds
- 1 ½ Tablespoons flaxseeds, ground
- 1 ½ Tablespoons hemp seeds
- Black pepper, to taste
- Salt, to taste
- In a small bowl, mix vinegar, oil, and honey.
- Set aside
- In a large bowl, combine broccoli slaw with avocado and tomato.
- Toss dressing with broccoli slaw mixture.
- Top with almonds and seeds, and sprinkle with black pepper and salt to taste.
Sat. Fat (grams)2
Did you make this recipe?
- Rapid and Sustainable Detoxication of Airborne Pollutants by Broccoli Sprout Beverage: Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial in China, Cancer Prevention Research
- Thomas Kensler, PhD, co-author of the study
- A survey by nutritional ingredient company Brassica Protection Products
- Antioxidant Properties of Green Broccoli and Purple-Sprouting Broccoli Under Different Cooking Conditions, Bioscience Horizons
- Cooking Methods of Brassica Rapa Affect the Preservation of Glucosinolates, Phenolics and Vitamin C, Food Research International
- Christy Wilson, RDN, nutrition counselor at the University of Arizona Campus Health Service
- Tara Collingwood, MS, RDN, author of Pregnancy Cooking and Nutrition for Dummies
- Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN, author of 365 Snacks for Every Day of the Year
- Jennifer Bowers, PhD, RD, owner of Dr. Jenn Bowers Nutrition
- Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD, a dietitian in New York City
- Sharon Palmer, RDN, author of The Plant-Powered Diet
- Elana Natker, MS, RD
- Rebecca Clyde, MS, RDN
- Charlene Pors, RD, owner of Euphoria Nutrition
- Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author of Expect the Best
- Christy Brissette, MS, RD, author of Everyday Low Carb
- Jessica Cording, MS, RD, author of The Little Book of Game Changers
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