[dropcap]F[/dropcap]ennel is nutritious and includes a little protein, fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc copper, manganese and vitamins A, B , B and B . It can 123 be used in so many different easy to prepare recipes to bring a new, fresh taste and good nutrition to your meals. Early Greeks believed that fennel had slimming powers and gave a person strength, courage and long life. The Greek name for fennel was marathon, the place where the famous battle with the Persians was fought in 490 B.C. because the soil there was overgrown with the plant.
During the Middle Ages, people ate fennel seeds to stave off hunger during church fasts. In 16th-century Europe, the expression “to give fennel” meant to flatter with false compliments. Just as fennel allays hunger for a while, but with no lasting nourishment, a false compliment flatters temporarily, but brings no real satisfaction to its recipient.
Fennel was originally a maritime plant from southern Europe and was introduced into western North America by Spanish priests and still grows wild around their old missions. Early English settlers brought the plant to the eastern coast.
A rather unusual-looking vegetable with a celery-like base and feathery, dill-like leaves, its small yellow flowers each produce two green or yellow-brown oval seeds about one-eighth-inch long. There are several varieties of fennel, including Florence fennel, F. piperitum, which produces thick stalks that can be eaten like celery; sweet fennel, F. vulgare dulce, with seeds that are used as an herb; and finnocchio, F. azoricum, which is grown for its bulbous stalk base.
Fennel has a flavor of soft anise and licorice, with a little nuttiness. The leaves, tender stems and seeds are used from the milder sweet fennel variety, while the stalks and bulbs are used from Florence fennel and finocchio. The bulb and stems can be eaten like celery, fresh and raw. The stalk, stripped of its skin and dressed in apple cider vinegar and pepper, makes a tasty, celery-like salad called cartucci that is popular in the plant’s native Mediterranean area. The feathery, darker, green leaves can be a tasty addition to vinaigrette sauces, salads and soups. Fennel seeds can be used in a wide range of dishes and can help to cut down on flatulence after eating beans.
Fennel has been used to soothe the stomach and intestines, relieve flatulence, expel pinworms, sweeten the breath, as a gargle, an eyewash, to regularize menstrual periods and to increase milk in nursing mothers. Its volatile oils are responsible for most of its medicinal properties, and many of these oils are antimicrobial.
Tea made from crushed fennel seeds is used to treat indigestion and cramps. You can chew the leaves, bulb or seeds for a pleasant, refreshing, taste and breath sweetener, as well as an appetite suppressant.
To bathe the eyes, put a teaspoonful of the leaves in a cup, pour in boiling water, allow to cool and then gently drop the strained liquid into the eyes. Fennel has a specific affinity for the bloodstream and builds strong blood plasma. Other benefits include being an excellent obesity fighter, because it accelerates the digestion of fatty foods.
Apple Fennel Salad
- 2 cups apples
- 2 cups fennel bulb and stalks 1⁄2 cup medjool dates
- 1⁄2 cup pecans
- 1⁄4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1⁄2 tsp Himalayan salt
- Pinch cayenne pepper
Pineapple Fennel Smoothie
- 2 cups fresh ripe pineapple 1 cup fennel stalks
- 1 cup pineapple juice
Brenda Cobb is author of The Living Foods Lifestyle and founder of The Living Foods Institute, an educational center and therapy spa in Atlanta offering Healthy Lifestyle courses on nutrition, cleansing, healing, anti-aging, detoxification, relaxation and cleansing therapies. For more information, call 404-524-4488 or visit LivingFoodsInstitute.com.