A well balanced diet includes many vegetables. In fact, as a Certified Nutritionist, I am fond of telling my clients that to lose weight and keep it off they need to “make friends with vegetables.” I give them a pictorial handout that gives them some good ideas about how to incorporate more veggies into their meals. There are all levels of convenience available.

Add New Vegetables for a Well Balanced Diet

One of the keys to a well balanced diet is to eat a variety of foods. There are so many vegetables to choose from. Don’t get stuck with just green beans and avocadoes. Why not try something new like broccoli rabe and reap the health benefits of doing so?

Broccoli Rabe Nutrition Facts

Spicy, zesty broccoli rabe is one of the favorite Mediterranean greens commonly featuring in Italian and French cuisine. It features small, broccoli-like flowering heads and large jagged turnip-like leaves.

Rabe features broad, frilly, jagged leaves somewhat bitter, spicy and mustard-like peppery flavor. Once baked or sautéed, however, its flavor becomes more acceptable, nutty and delicious.

Health Benefits of Broccoli Rabe

  • Very low in calories. It contains only 20 calories per cup.
  • It is an excellent source of vitamin-C. One cup provides 120% of your daily needs. This vitamin-C is a powerful natural antioxidant that offers protection against free-oxygen radicals and flu-like viral infections.
  • It contains many healthful vitamins like folates, and vitamin K. 
  • Broccoli rabe is a rich source of antioxidants like flavonoids which may help prevent cancer.
  • Like kale and mustard greens, rabe too is an excellent source of vitamin-A.  Vitamin A is an essential nutrient required for maintaining healthy mucosa and skin and is essential for good night vision. Consumption of natural fruits rich in flavonoids found to help protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
  • Fresh broccoli rabe greens are an excellent source of several essential B-complex groups of vitamins.
  • Regular consumption of leafy greens in the diet may help protect against arthritis, osteoporosis, and iron deficiency.

Sicilian-Style Broccoli Rabe

The slight bitterness of broccoli rabe is tempered here by the sweetness of raisins. If you prefer, substitute milder broccolini for the broccoli rabe. All of the broccoli rabe is edible, though it’s best to trim off the very ends, which may be tough.

Ingredients (makes 4 servings)

  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe (1 pound), thinly sliced
  • ⅓ cup raisins
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon salt


1. In a small heatproof bowl, combine the sun-dried tomatoes and boiling water. Let stand until the tomatoes have softened, 15 to 20 minutes (depending on the dryness of the tomatoes). Drain, reserving the soaking liquid, and coarsely chop the tomatoes.

2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook until the garlic is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the garlic, and when cool enough to handle, mince.

3. Add the onion to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft, about 7 minutes.

4. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, broccoli rabe, raisins, red pepper flakes, and salt to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the broccoli rabe starts to wilt, about 5 minutes.

5. Add the reserved soaking liquid and the minced garlic, cover, and cook until the broccoli rabe is very tender, about 10 minutes.

Nutrition per serving: 

  • 120 calories
  • 4g total fat
  • 2g dietary fiber
  • 21g carbohydrate
  • 4g protein

Click here for this recipe to add to a well balanced diet.