Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Fennel-Carrot Salad with Lime Dressing

Fennel is a cool-weather vegetable that doesn't get much respect in America, but it's a mainstay of French and Mediterranean cuisine. In cooking, it most closely resembles crunchy celery, albeit with a more delicate flavor. Its stalks and seeds taste something like licorice. But its health claims may be its strongest appeal. Fennel is loaded with Vitamin C and a powerful antimicrobial needed to reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol and boost the immune system.



Ingredients

3 medium carrots
2 fennel bulbs
1 jalapeno pepper
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon honey
1 pinch of sea salt
1/3 cup minced parsley or cilantro

Preparation

1. Combine lime juice, cumin, red pepper flakes, sea salt, jalapeno in a bowl or mini-food processor. Add minced jalapeno. Whip or blend. Then add olive oil and blend until well mixed.

2. Shred the carrots and fennel with the grating blade of your food processor or a box grater. Toss together with parsley or cilantro until well mixed.

3. Add lime vinaigrette, toss and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cooking with Fennel:

The fennel bulb, foliage, and seeds of the fennel plant are widely used in many of the culinary traditions of the world. Fennel pollen is the most potent form of fennel, but also the most expensive. Dried fennel seed is an aromatic, anise-flavoured spice, brown or green in colour when fresh, slowly turning a dull grey as the seed ages. For cooking, green seeds are optimal. The leaves are delicately flavoured and similar in shape to those of dill. The bulb is a crisp, hardy vegetable and may be sautéed, stewed, braised, grilled or eaten raw.

Fennel seeds are sometimes confused with those of anise, which are similar in taste and appearance, though smaller.

Its health benefits abound.

Like many of its sister herbs, fennel contains a unique combination of phytonutrients—including the flavonoids rutinquercitin, and various kaempferol glycosides—that give it strong antioxidant activity.

The most fascinating phytonutrient compound in fennel, however, may be anethole—the primary component of its volatile oil. In animal studies, the anethole in fennel has repeatedly been shown to reduce inflammation and to help prevent the occurrence of cancer. The volatile oil has also been shown to be able to protect the liver of experimental animals from toxic chemical injury.

In addition to its unusual phytonutrients, fennel bulb is an excellent source of vitamin C which aids in neutralizing free radicals in all aqueous environments of the body and reducing pain and joint deterioration that occurs in conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The vitamin C found in fennel bulb is directly antimicrobial and is also needed for the proper function of the immune system.

As a very good source of fiber, fennel bulb may help to reduce elevated cholesterol levels. And since fiber also removes potentially carcinogenic toxins from the colon, fennel bulb may also be useful in preventing colon cancer. In addition to its fiber, fennel is a very good source of folate, a B vitamin that is necessary to convert a dangerous molecule called homocysteine into other, benign molecules, thus reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke. Fennel is also a very good source of potassium, a mineral that helps lower high blood pressure, another risk factor for stroke and heart attack. In a cup of fennel, you'll receive 10.8% of the daily value for fiber, 5.9% of the DV for folate, and 10.3% of the DV for potassium.
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