Australian scientists brew up broccoli latte
Getting your daily dose of vegetables can be tricky – there are only so many serves one person can scarf down in a day. But now it may be a bit easier to hide broccoli in other foods, as Australian scientists have developed a nutritious broccoli powder that can be sprinkled through meals or, if you're feeling particularly adventurous, used to make a broccoli latte.
Although it isn't winning any popularity contests, broccoli is bursting with nutrients that fight cancer and type 2 diabetes, and improve gut health. Unfortunately, the processing these veggies go through before they reach your dinner table can rob them of much of that nutrition.
To get broccoli into more meals without losing that nutritional value, researchers at Hort Innovation and the Australian national science agency CSIRO developed a broccoli powder. The stuff is made of 100 percent whole broccoli, and its creators say the pre-treatment and drying processes used allow the end product to retain the natural color, flavor and nutrients of the fresh vegetable.
Two tablespoons of the powder equates to about one serve of broccoli, the team says. The stuff can be used to make broccoli smoothies and soups, add nutrients to baked foods, or even just to hide the unpopular veggie from fussy kids (or adults).
"The broccoli powder has already been used for the production of extruded snacks with high vegetable content," says Mary Ann Augustin, lead researcher on the project. "Prototype extruded snacks with 20 to 100 per cent vegetable content were displayed during National Science Week at the Queen Victoria Market last year and were well-received by parents and even by kids."
But perhaps the strangest experiment comes from a Melbourne café, which used the powder to brew a broccoli latte. The reception was apparently mixed – but if pumpkin can pull it off, there's hope for any vegetable.
The team says that the broccoli powder can also benefit farmers. Supermarkets are notoriously picky about the vegetables that end up on display, leading to a huge amount of wasted "irregular" produce that's not presentable enough for stores but is otherwise perfectly fine. Turning those plants into powder reduces food waste and can give growers a new revenue stream.
To get the broccoli powder on the market, the researchers plan to conduct consumer sensory evaluation trials, to make sure people will actually eat it.