‘’I do not like broccoli, and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli!’’ George Bush Sr., defending his edict to ban broccoli from the White House and Air Force One.
Within a week, broccoli growers in California, outraged by the comment, shipped ten tons of the vegetable to Washington D.C. where it was donated to local homeless shelters to feed the hungry.
Bush may have done broccoli a favor in the long run as the ensuing firestorm brought broccoli into the public eye as never before! This manmade member of the cabbage family has had a love-hate relationship with humankind since its conception as early as the first century BCE. The Romans were enamored with the crop and served it with herbs and wine as well as in cream sauces. Drusius, the son of Roman Emperor Tiberius, loved broccoli so much that he gorged on it (excluding all other foods) for an entire month. It was only after his father chided him for “living precariously,” that he was induced to give it up. It was during the Roman Empire that broccoli became a staple of their warriors who believed that it enabled them to gain strength for battles.
Despite its early success, its introduction into England and France in the early 18th century did not fare well. And although broccoli received its debut in the United States over 200 years ago, it did not obtain favor with the general public until the D’Arrigo brothers, Stephano and Andrea, immigrants from Italy, established The D’Arrigo Brothers Company and created “the brand name Andy Boy, named after Stephano’s two-year-old son, Andrew. They advertised by sponsoring a radio program and featured ads for broccoli on the station. By the 1930s the country was having a love affair with broccoli. People were convinced that broccoli was a newly developed plant”(Wikipedia).
Broccoli is another powerhouse vegetable, rich in vitamin A and beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant which has been found to help protect against cancer and aging. Because beta-carotene is a fat-soluble vitamin, pairing foods rich in it with fats such as nuts or olive oil can help the body absorb it more readily. A cup of cooked broccoli provides as much calcium as 4 oz. of milk and as much Vitamin C as an orange while weighing in at only 44 calories. Eaten raw, one cup chopped comes in at only 24 calories! Looking to boost your potassium? Need iron? Adding fiber to your diet? All are reasons to put broccoli on the table.
Ham and Broccoli Roll-ups
1 Bunch fresh broccoli or 1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen broccoli spears, cooked and drained
5 thin slices cooked Ham
½ cup Mayonnaise
3 T. Flour
½ tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Pepper
1 ½ cups Milk
1/3 cup grated Parmesan or Cheddar Cheese
Fine dry Bread Crumbs
Wrap ham around broccoli spears. Place rolls in shallow casserole. In small saucepan, stir together mayonnaise, flour, salt and pepper. Gradually stir in milk. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Add cheese, stirring until blended. Pour sauce over rolls. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Broil 4 or 5 inches from source of heat 2 minutes or until bubbly. Serves 5.
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