I love Fennel (the bulb) – which surprises me because I never liked aniseed (even when, at 16, Pernod was the only thing to get drunk on in friends’ parents’ drinks cabinets!). I’m not that keen on liquorice either and the flavour of fennel is definitely in that taste area – only for me at least – sufficiently different to be one of my very favourite veggies.
What to do with it - the raw. . .
I particularly like it raw, either grated or shredded on a mandolin in a green salad or added as an exotic twist to homemade, dairy-free coleslaw, so. . . white cabbage, carrots, onions and fennel with a dressing made from a blend of sunflower oil, apple cider vinegar and almond butter. Absolutely delicious.
. . . and the cooked.
If I eat it cooked, I like to sweat it in a teeny bit of oil with leeks, onion, garlic and plenty of dried tarragon. The tarragon does something really special to the flavour of the fennel and leeks. A divine combination. I introduced my gourmet father to this recipe back in April and he has served it at dinner parties twice since then - only he uses naughty butter instead of oil. It really is delicious and I urge you to try it.
I also like it as a soup. Again it’s a doddle to do. Simply place half a red onion and a crushed, chopped clove of garlic into a pan with a splash of olive oil. Gently fry until they start to go clear then add a roughly chopped fennel bulb to the pan along with a Marigold organic, yeast- and gluten-free vegetable stock cube and some water. Bring to the boil and then allow to simmer for about 7 minutes. I take it off the heat at that point and using a hand blender, blend it in the saucepan, sat on the chopping board. Blend until smooth and return to the heat for a minute before serving with a handful of sprouted seeds sprinkled on top.
How about roasted? Not the best way to cook from a nutrition point of view I know, but if you go really easy on the oil and keep the chunks small enough to reduce the cooking time, it’s delicious chopped and roasted with chunks of red and yellow pepper, whole garlic cloves and slices of onion, sprinkled over with rosemary.
So that’s a few ideas on what you can do with it, but what does it do with you?
Well, it’s an excellent source of fibre, so aside from helping lower high cholesterol levels, there is also evidence that it can help diarrhoea or constipation too, so if you suffer from IBS you should try it. And since fibre also removes potentially carcinogenic toxins from the colon, fennel bulb may also be useful in preventing colon cancer. Like broccoli, it contains those all important phytonutrients including one called ‘anethole’ the primary component of its oil. Believed to enhance immunity, anethole has been shown to reduce inflammation and to help prevent the occurrence of cancer. It seems to be able to protect the liver from toxic chemical injury. At 100mg per 100g, it contains just a little less calcium than full-fat milk (118mg per 100g*) except unlike milk, fennel is very low in cholesterol. It is a great source of Vitamin C, Folate, Potassium and Manganese and a good source of Niacin, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper.
So if you are having a BBQ this weekend, how about making a batch of the coleslaw suggested above or adding some fennel to your green salad. Or even skewering chunks of it with organic chicken and red and yellow pepper to make some delicious kebabs. Don't forget to invite me round!
*The Dairy Council
Claire Raikes is a Wellbeing Coach, Speaker and Writer who ‘cured’ herself of a chronic, disabling and potentially life-threatening bowel condition without the use of steroids, surgery or any other traditional medical intervention. She now shares her passion for natural and vibrant health through coaching, speaking and writing about the importance and power of a truly healthy diet.
She publishes a free weekly eZine, In Essence and is compiling an eBook of Healthy Fast Food with 25% of the proceeds going to The Cancer Project, a charity set up by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and nutritionists to educate the public on the benefits of a healthy diet for cancer prevention and survival. If you have a recipe you would like to submit, visit the Live In Essence website for further details. To book Claire to speak at your event, email her at email@example.com .