The Herb to Eat Now: Fennel

This slightly sweet vegetable may look strange, but it’s rich in antioxidants and extremely versatile.

Fennel is an herb that can be a great addition to almost any dish. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user Nick Saltmarsh.

What: Fennel is a crunchy and slightly sweet plant that has a white bulb, green stalks, and feathery leaves that bloom and contain fennel seeds. It is in the same family as parsley, carrots, dill, and coriander. It’s one of those veggies that is often overlooked, says nutritionist Danielle Omar, but it can complement a variety of meals.

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Why it’s good for you: Fennel is rich in antioxidants, including rutin and quercetin, which research shows reduce inflammation and the risk of cancer. Fennel also is a great source of fiber and potassium, and its bulb contains a high amount of vitamin C. The seeds are often used to sooth digestive pain.

How to prepare it: Everything—the bulb, stalk, leaves, and seeds—is edible. To prepare fennel, cut the stalks from the bulb. Cut the bulb in half—Omar says it’s best to cut vertically—and wash it. The stalks are often used in soups, while the leaves and seeds can be used as seasoning.

How to add it to your diet: Fennel is extremely versatile, so it’s easy to incorporate it into your meals, Omar says. If it’s your first time using it, try sautéing it with onions for a side dish. Or add some sliced fennel to your sandwich. It even goes well thinly sliced with Greek yogurt and mint leaves on top.

Recipes to try:
Fennel, avocado, and mint salad
Roasted fennel
Crispy cream-braised potatoes and fennel

You can download Omar’s e-book The Food Confidence Expert: 7 Ideas for 10 Minute Dinners on her Web site