ROANOKE—Eating fresh fruits and vegetables doesn’t have to end with the summer. Fall vegetables—like broccoli—are fresh and full of benefits. Broccoli, which is in season in Virginia September through November, is packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, folate and fiber, according to Deb Chappell, a Virginia Cooperative Extension family and consumer sciences agent. 'And broccoli is for more than just steaming these days,' she said. It can be served raw in salads or with dip. Broccoli can be stir-fried with other veggies and meat. Or it can be pureed for soup. When buying broccoli at a local farmers’ market or grocery store, select firm stems with heads that are a dark green-purple color. Broccoli will keep for three days when refrigerated. 'If your broccoli wilts, trim the bottom, place it in a cup of water, cover with plastic and refrigerate,' Chappell said. To use, rinse and remove the outer leaves and tough stems. 'The leaves are actually edible and contain more beta carotene than the florets,' she added. For best flavor and retained nutrients, steam or boil lightly until just tender and still a bright green, Chappell said. Steaming or microwaving preserves more of broccoli’s nutrients. 'All too often, broccoli is presented in a cheese or cream sauce that is high in fat, calories and cholesterol,' Chappell said. 'To keep it healthy and delicious, try topping lightly steamed broccoli with grated Parmesan cheese or lemon juice, slivered almonds, sesame seeds or toasted breadcrumbs.' Contact Chappell at 540-772-7524.