Fennel is one of my absolute favorite foods, but I usually get a lot of questions about what it is when I serve it to a guest at my house. I want to cover the basics of how to purchase it and prepare it so you can enjoy the health benefits of this delicious food in your own home.
Fennel is a flowering plant that is in the same family as the carrot. Florence fennel is the specific type of bulb that is quite common now in U.S. grocery stores. Sometimes it is labeled as anise in the grocery store, but that’s actually incorrect. Anise is a pungent seed spice that has a deep licorice flavor and is used in baking and mulling spices. Fennel, on the other hand, has a slight licorice hint (which is why people get confused), but don’t let that scare you away. I hate black licorice, and I love fennel. They are distinctly different, despite what the grocery store label may say.
Watch the video below for tips on how to buy it and prepare it to cook.
Health benefits of fennel:
- Fennel is fantastic for digestive health. Fennel naturally stimulates digestive enzymes and helps support a healthy gut. A healthy gut is key for a good immune system.
- Fennel is high in potassium, which helps contribute to healthy blood pressure.
- Fennel has a high concentration of flavonoids, alkaloids, and phenols, which have all been shown to provide cancer preventive properties.
- 2 different studies I found showed that fennel essential oil helps pain associated with menstrual cramps. Who knew?
My favorite way to cook fennel:
Cut it up (watch the video for how), and saute it in a pan with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. That’s it! Cook it until it softens, but still has some crunch.
Other ways to use fennel:
- Hot out of the pan as a side dish
- Hot or cold on top of a hearty salad
- Mixed with other veggies in stir fry
- Roasted with other hearty veggies like celery, beets and carrots
- Raw and shaved with brussel sprouts in a salad with a vinaigrette. Let the vinegar soften the fennel up for a little bit before serving.
One of my favorite essential oil blends, DiGize, has fennel essential oil in it. It’s amazing for any GI issues and helps out when you eat something that doesn’t quite agree with you. I always carry a bottle of it if I’m traveling just in case the local food isn’t what you’re used to.
Comment below if you love fennel or want to try it for the first time! I’d love to hear what you make with it.