“Wild” Broccoli? No Such Thing.



Blooming Broccoli

Broccoli? Fun? Are you wondering if I’m maybe a little crazy?

Here’s the deal: 90% of getting kids to try a new food is getting them ready to try it. “Selling” it to them. Making it “cool.” Making it fun! Plopping a pile of overdone broccoli on a plate and saying, “Eat it, it’s good for you” usually doesn’t do the job.

Check out these fun (and surprising) facts about broccoli with your kids.

Then for the real fun: Help them decide which adult in their life would be most impressed with their new knowledge. (Someone who’s going to be sitting at the dinner table when broccoli is on the menu would be perfect!) Upper elementary kids might even enjoy creating a “true-or-false” quiz from these facts to administer to their favorite grown-up. Kids love feeling smart, and getting to teach the adults in their life something new and interesting…. Well, that’s got to feel pretty good!

First, let’s get “The Amazing Human Broccoli” out of the way:

Yes, the best-known broccoli is a human being! Albert Romolo “Cubby” Broccoli is famous for producing the James Bond spy movies.

Okay–on to “The Incredible Vegetable Broccoli”:

1. Broccoli has been around for a long, long time. The Romans grew it for food some 2000 years ago. They liked to season it with cumin, coriander seeds, chopped onion and a few drops of oil and wine vinegar. Or with a creamy sauce. Take your pick.

2. Goldfish like to nibble on fresh broccoli! Here’s proof:

3. Broccoli is a superfood, considered one of the most nutritious veggies around. It’s packed with good stuff that helps our bodies grow and stay strong: calcium that helps build strong bones; fiber that helps us digest our food and keep our hearts healthy; antioxidants that help fight cancer; potassium that helps keep our blood pressure healthy; and vitamin C that helps our bodies absorb iron, which we need so our blood can do its job (getting oxygen from our lungs to the rest of us). You wouldn’t be far from the truth if you called broccoli a superhero!

4. Broccoli hasn’t always been called “broccoli.” When it first arrived in England from Italy in the 1700’s, it was known either as “sprout colli-flower” or “Italian asparagus.” But now, broccoli has the same name in every language!

5. Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush banned broccoli from the White House. “I do not like broccoli, ” he declared. “I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. I’m President of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.” (That wasn’t a very good example for his kids, was it?!)

6. On the other hand, hamsters are quite fond of broccoli. Need proof? Here you go!

7. Speaking of presidents, Thomas Jefferson planted broccoli in his garden in 1767. (That was 34 years before he became the third U.S. president.)

8. And while we’re still on the topic of presidents: 44th U.S. President Barack Obama likes a serving of steamed broccoli with his burger. (A great example for his kids!)

9. One more while we’re in president mode: A pizzeria in Chicago makes a pizza called the Broccoli Obama, topped with many of the president’s favorite ingredients: broccoli, seasoned potatoes, applewood smoked bacon, gruyere cheese, cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese and minced garlic, with fresh chives added after baking. Yum!

10. Broccoli has a lot of close cousins–like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi, cauliflower and collard greens. Their family name is Brassicaceae, and they are also called cruciferous vegetables.

11. Broccoli wasn’t common in the U.S. until 1922, when soldiers returning from Europe after World War I brought back a taste for the veggie and some enterprising farmer (or merchant?) started advertising it on the radio.

12. Broccoli is a human invention. There’s no such thing as wild broccoli! (Check out the interesting. kid-friendly podcast at this page.) Long before scientists started messing around with food in the laboratory to create GMOs, farmers messed around with their crops through selective breeding to get exactly what they wanted.

Note: The Green Gourmet Giraffe blog out of Melbourne, Australia has lots of great information about vegetables–not to mention awesome vegetarian recipes! I don’t know what it is about those Aussies, but you’ll find another great resource for kid-friendly info about broccoli (and other vegetables) at the Australian site freshforkids.com.

Viva les broccoli–

Barbara Jean the Story Queen

Healthy Food

Photos and videos used with permission via creativecommons.org: Blooming broccoli, Peter Sitte. Goldfish eating broccoli, Cattigan. Hamster eating broccoli, Anthony Zheng.



First, a disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. I’m not a nutritionist. I’m not a chef. I’m not even a mom. What I know about healthy food and healthy eating I’ve learned by reading and doing, just like you.

What I am is a children’s book author. A Story Queen! My area of expertise is FUN. In the last dozen years, I’ve written a number of entertaining, award-winning picture books–about monsters, cats, Disney princesses–and veggies, of all things. 

I’m big on imagination. Monsters Don’t Eat Broccoli encourages kids (the way my dad encouraged my siblings and me) to think of broccoli as crunchy, munchy, fun-to-eat trees. Once Upon a Parsnip is a fairytale rematch between Little Red Riding Hood (a vegetarian) and the Big Bad Wolf (NOT a vegetarian). Scary fun!

On the surface, neither of my veggie books is really about healthy eating–they’re just plain fun. But the fun is subversive: both books introduce and normalize the idea of eating healthy, fresh-from-the-garden vegetables. (Never underestimate the power of fun to get your kids to try something new!)

My goal in these pages is to find and share fun ways to introduce fresh fruits and vegetables to children and to normalize healthy foods and healthy eating in their experience. My means is to expose them–through you, their parents and caregivers–to food-friendly books, videos, downloadable and printable posters and coloring pages, hands-on activities and kid-friendly recipes. Anything that equates healthy food and FUN!

I’m here for you–to help you make healthy eating feel as natural to your children as breathing.

Because healthy food and healthy fun make healthy kids. And that’s something all of us can get behind.


Barbara Jean Hicks, a.k.a. “The Story Queen”

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To purchase signed, personalized copies of my picture books, visit the “Books” page on my website.  To contact me about my well regarded young author presentations for schools, or for other enquiries, send an email from the “Contact” page at barbarajeanhicks.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

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