You're on the way to the grocery store with the idea to try out a new recipe- a healthy one of course! So, you make your way to the produce isle and end up throwing the same old packaged salad mixture, baby carrots and bunch of kale into your cart. Looks like you'll be having the same lunch and dinner as last week (eye roll).
You've glanced at the other produce but aren't quite sure what to make with all of the leafy greens and odd looking vegetables, so you give up...yet again. You remember seeing the name FENNEL on the second shelf which looked like a mix between an onion and celery stalk with a bunch of dill-like herb leaves coming out of the top. You ask yourself "What does it taste like?" "Do I use the whole vegetable?" "Do I eat is raw or how the hell do I cook this?" Well, I have all of the answers for you!
When raw, the texture of fennel is cold and crisp and is a great addition to salads and slaws.
Fennel is also very tasty on its own, sautéed, grilled, and baked. The vegetable has a very flavorful mild licorice-like flavor that gives dishes a unique taste, especially when mixed with other vegetables.
Fennel leaves can be chopped up and used to flavor any dish, either hot or cold, and is especially flavorful when combined with citrus, or in any dish that reminds you of spring. The seeds are one of the primary spices in Italian sausage or a great addition to any meat dish and the pollen has a very concentrated, musky-anise aroma and flavor.
The root vegetable is also packed with many nutritional and health benefits. An average fennel bulb contains 73 calories, 3 grams of protein, 17 grams of carbohydrate and an exceptionally high amount of fiber with 7g per bulb. It contains only a trace of fat and no cholesterol and is packed with vitamin C, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin K and folate.
The Health Benefits:
Bone Health: Because of the calcium, fennel can help maintain bone strength.
Improves Skin Health: The vitamin C in fennel acts as an antioxidant that may reduce free radical damage that can lead to premature aging. Vitamin C is also necessary for the formation of collagen which prevents wrinkles and maintains a healthy glow.
Lowers Blood Pressure: The potassium helps to lower blood pressure and inflammation by working against sodium.
Aids Digestion: The high fiber content helps to maintain a healthy digestive system which also aids in IBS, constipation and bloating. It also helps the body clear toxins from the colon and balance PH levels in the body.
Increase Satiety: The high fiber content also suppresses your appetite and can aid in weight loss.
These are only a few of the benefits of this incredible root vegetable. I bet you're already planning your trip to the grocery store to pick some up and I highly encourage it as it's in its prime season right now!
Below is one of my favorite recipes using baked fennel and mixing it with quinoa or a super grain mix. Quinoa also provides high fiber quantities and is a complete protein which will leave you feeling full and satisfied! I also incorporated fresh mint leaves to really bring out the spring flavor! It's the perfect dish to bring for lunch or to your next BBQ. Check it out!
Flavor-Packed Fennel Quinoa Salad
1 cup quinoa or super grain mix
1 whole fennel
1/4 cup red onion (chopped)
1 cup raw almonds (chopped or sliced)
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves (finely chopped)
1 large fresh garlic clove (finely chopped)
1/2 Jalapeño pepper
1.5 cups chicken bone broth (can also use vegetable broth or stock)
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black ground pepper
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp parsley
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
Optional: blood orange
Preheat oven to 400F
Separate fennel bulb from leaves and chop both separately
On a baking sheet, line with parchment paper and place chopped fennel bulb and chopped almonds
Bake for about 10 minutes until both turn slightly golden
On the stove, cook quinoa or super grains as instructed on package
In a large skillet, sauté garlic and red onion with a dash of salt and olive oil
In the large skillet, combine quinoa (or super grains), fennel, almonds, onions, chicken broth (or vegetable), all spices and olive oil and sauté for about 5 minutes
Add mint leaves, jalapeño and white wine vinegar and continue sautéing for another 3 minutes or so
Option to add blood orange for sweet taste