Fennel: a nutrient packed green and white vegetable that looks like a celery crossed with an onion with a fringe of dill-like leaves but tastes like none of the three.
Until now, fennel was completely off my radar, mainly because I didn’t know what it was or what to do with it. (Oh, the multitude of veggies still out there that I walk right past because of their unfamiliarity!) I have since discovered some really beneficial information about fennel and delicious ways to use it in my cooking. Plus, very importantly, that mildly licorice taste goes away when you start slicing it raw and disappears when you cook it! (I’m not a big fan of licorice and now, I am big fan of fennel!)
Fun Facts About Fennel
- it’s part of the Umbellifereae family and related to parsley, carrots and dill
- everything about the plant is edible: bulb, stalks, green leaves and seeds from the flowers
- early Greeks and Romans cherished fennel and mythologized about its medicinal and culinary properties
- it is widely used in French and Italian dishes and in the Mediterranean Diet
- contains a unique combination of phytonutrients including the antioxidants quercetin and rutin
- historically, it has been used in women’s health to increase lactation, facilitate birth, promote menstruation
- it can help lower your LDL cholesterol
- it’s a natural source of estrogen
- it has been used to treat backache, low libido, loss of appetite and infantile colic
- it is well-known remedy for flatulence, constipation and gastro issues
- contains anethole, fenchone and estragole which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, anti-microbial and cancer protective properties
- contributes to building and maintaining bone structure and health
- found to help lower blood pressure and protect the heart due to its vasodilatory and vasoprotective properties
- A NUTRIENT POWERHOUSE! 1 raw fennel bulb: 73 calories, 0.5 gms of fat, 0 cholesterol, 2.9 gms of protein, 17 gms of carbohydrate and 7 gms of dietary fiber, 27% daily potassium, 5% sodium, 6% Vitamin A, 11% calcium, 46% Vitamin C, 9% iron, 5% Vitamin B6 and 10% magnesium. Also contains phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, niacin, pantothenic acid, folate, choline, beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin E and vitamin K.
Dr. Oz Recommends Fennel Tea
Dr. Oz has often featured the benefits of fennel on his show and website because of the myriad and incredibly useful properties to improve your health.
If you’re suffering from constipation, (and I am proud to admit that since going vegan that has not been a problem!), brewing some tea from dried fennel seeds may provide a gentle nudge in the right direction. It also has been reported to help flatulence and bloating. In fact, fennel tea has been used to treat IBS—-the volatile oil compounds in fennel seeds assist in regulating the the contractions of the intestines, helping to relieve intestinal cramps and trapped stomach gas.
- 1-2 teaspoons freshly crushed fennel seeds
- 1 cup of water
- 1) Boil water.
- 2) Crush fennel seeds:
- By Hand: place the seeds in a plastic bag and lay on a cutting board. Crush the seeds with a heavy rolling pin or mallet.
- By Mortar and Pestle: place seeds into the bowl and push pestle down onto seeds back and forth to grind
- By Spice Grinder, Magic Bullet or Coffee Grinder
- 3) Add crushed fennel into a cup of boiling water
- 4) Steep mixture on stove for 5 -10 minutes. Strain.
- Serve and Enjoy!
At the Supermarket: Is It Fennel or Is It Anise?
One easy way to get some of this fabulous fennel into your day is to, first, find it in your market—it may be masquerading as anise, which is apparently a different plant that is used mostly for its seeds but has a similar flavor. In America, markets seem to label fennel as anise sometimes (which is technically incorrect), but if you see the bulb at the bottom of the plant, then you’ve got fennel!
Ina Garten’s Wonderful Fennel Recipe: Veganized!
A wonderful chef, Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa, created a fabulous recipe for fennel called “Parmesan Fennel Gratin” and which I easily and successfully veganized. I endeavored to make this simple dish as a side dish for dinner and it was gobbled up!
Crispy-Topped Fennel Casserole
by Ellen Francis, inspired by Ina Garten. the Barefoot Contessa
- 4 medium fennel bulbs
- 3/4 cup vegetable stock
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons Earth’s Balance vegan spread
- 4 tablespoons Earth’s Balance vegan spread, melted
- 1 cup panko or bread crumbs
- 3/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup Daiya vegan shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Remove the stalks from each fennel bulb and set aside. (It can be used for something else!) Trim the thin but tough layer off the hard bottom, discard.
- Cut the bulbs in half lengthwise through the core. Remove that white oval-shaped part of the core by cutting a V-shaped wedge, leaving the bulb pretty much intact. If the bulb layers separate, it’s ok.
- Cut each bulb into 4 pieces, depending on the size of the bulb.
- Arrange the pieces, cut side up, in a gratin dish just large enough to hold them snugly in a single layer.
- Pour the vegetable stock and wine over the fennel, then sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of salt and 3/4 teaspoon of pepper.
- Dot with parts of the 3 tablespoons Earth’s Balance vegan spread
- Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes—check to see if the fennel is tender.
- Remove from the oven and raise the oven temperature to 425 degrees.
- Meanwhile, to make the topping: In a medium mixing bowl, combine the 4 tablespoons of melted Earth Balance vegan spread, the panko or bread crumbs, the nutritional yeast, the shredded vegan mozzarella cheese, parsley, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
- Sprinkle evenly on top and return to oven.
- Bake uncovered for 15 minutes and watch the topping brown. Be careful not to let it burn.
- Serve hot or warm.
Note: If you don’t love vegan cheese, you can eliminate the Daiya shredded mozzarella in the topping. Add some more melted Earth’s Balance to the topping mix and keep a close watch on it as it browns in the oven.
Raw Fennel Sliced Thin For Salads
As a raw vegetable, fennel is wonderful to garnish salads with. Remove the green on top and slice the bulb very thinly. It provides a fantastic crunch and so many nutrients!
- Dr. Weil…Cooking With Spices: Fennel
- Medical News Today: What are the Health Benefits of Fennel?
- Dr. Oz’s Healthy Fennel Recipes
For more great recipes and reading:
- Ina Garten’s Mushroom Lasagna Veganized!!
- Menopause: Certain Foods May Help Symptoms
- There’s a Tea for That:19 Brews for What Ails You!
- All Natural Soy Royal Tea Candles
- ZAPPOS Surprising and Delightful Vegan Department
- 9 Fabulous Shopportunities to Save Veganly on Holiday Sales
- 18 UGG Alternatives: All Price Points, All Beautiful
- Hot Vegan Clothing All Over Nordstrom Anniversary Catalogue
- Maple-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Hazelnuts from Chloe’s Kitchen
- My Dream Girls for a Vegan Reality TV Show
- Recap of Chef Chloe’s Appearance on the TODAY Show
- Last Minute Ideas for a Vegan Valentine’s Day
- My Go-To Vegan Cookbooks
- Vegan American Princess Mother’s Day Gift Ideas
- Go Blue Blueberry & Lemon Cupcakes: Celebrate Your Team Spirit
- Yummy Vegan Valentines Day Treats:
- Frosted Strawberry Cupcakes & Carly and Tyler’s Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Amazing Easy No-Bake Watermelon Cake
- 4 Berry Chia Pudding: Guilt-Free and Delicious