Better late than never – this was supposed to have been posted before the end of July 2020 – but laptop issues challenged me – as I am really technically challenged – so had to wait for all of the necessary to be resolved – and here is my July edition of “A-Z Of Spices”

For July – the seventh month of the year and I am featuring the letter “F” and the spice/herb chosen is “fennel and the fennel seeds/saunf/varyali”. But yes I am posting in August – for some reason – not even valid I never got down to posting this in July

The fennel plant belongs to the “carrot” family (never knew that), and it is a flowering plant producing yellow flowers and feathery leaves. Almost every part of the plant – bulb, foliage, fruit and seeds are used in many culinary traditions of the world – the small flower of the wild fennel – known as the pollen – is the most potent and most expensive part.

The bulb – a crisp vegetable with intense flavour and texture – can be sautéed, stewed or even eaten raw in salads – the tender young leaves are a perfect addition to garnish any dish – the tender young shoots can be eaten as you would a celery stick or just as an addition to your salad ingredients. The fennel fruit can easily be confused with that of the anise – both are similar in taste and appearance.

It is also a common ingredient in natural toothpastes and various other mouth fresheners – because of its natural “breadth freshening” properties. Fennel/saunf seeds are somewhat crunchy – with a mild sweet/liquorish taste and its aromatic properties, has made, the fennel fruit form one of the common and essential ingredients of the compound in liquorice powder.

Many sub-continent cultures use the fennel seeds/fruits in day to day cooking and it is one of the essential and most important spice in “Gujarati Cooking”, and most of my recipes originate in “Gujarati Cooking”. Roasted and salted fennel seeds are also used in “mukhwas”, (traditional Indian after-meal digestive and breadth freshener) – the colourful candied version of fennel seeds is now also readily available and many a time a tastier option.

Fennel Seeds/Saunf/Varyali is commonly and frequently used by diverse cultures – and simply because of all the natural health benefits it provides, and here are just but a “handful” of Health & Wellness Benefits of Fennel Seeds:-

  • Fennel seeds a power house of nutrition – is often associated with longevity – because of its nutritional benefits that aid in providing/improving ones general well-being
  • The antioxidants in fennel seeds – have anti-inflammatory properties that aid in fighting bacteria and viruses – keeping you safe
  • They are rich in a multiple of nutrients – manganese, copper, zinc, phosphorous, Vit K, Vit E, Vit A & the amazing Vit C and the list of nutrients goes on
  • Regular consumption of fennel seeds is essential for improving your vision because of the high  dose of Vit A it contains
  • Fennel seeds provide minerals (potassium) that are essential in regulating blood pressure and heart rate
  • Essential oils contained in fennel seeds contribute to the anti-inflammatory properties, enzymes and gastric juices and that aid in breaking down food in the body and ensuring your digestive tract is healthy – as a result it is excellent for people suffering with IBS, bloating, indigestion and constipation
  • Essential oils and vital fibre in fennel seeds – are highly beneficial in flushing out toxins from our bodies – thus cleansing the blood – and thereby helping our bodies absorb necessary nutrients – it is also used to treat/prevent water retention – a tea/infusion works like a diuretic – also helps in preventing urinary tract diseases
  • Fennel can be used to comfort and regulate ones menstrual cycle–by ensuring the hormones are well balanced–a number of products to kerb the effects of PMS-also used as a “pain reliever ”or comforting agent for menopausal woman
  • Essential oils in a cup of fennel tea/infusion aids in suppressing the appetite – many dieticians suggest consuming a cup of tea/infusion before meals to reduce calorie intake and promote weight loss – regular use of fennel seeds and a healthy and active lifestyle helps with keeping the weight down
  • Because of its healing and recovering qualities – fennel seeds are widely used within the beauty industry and you can easily use it in various homemade remedies for number of skin problems. Minerals such as selenium, calcium, zinc and many others are found in fennel seeds and are integral in keeping hormones balanced, maintaining balanced oxygen levels in the blood stream and imparting a cooling effect on the skin – thereby providing a healthy glowing skin. In Ayurvedic practice, fennel seeds are used to treat skin ailments such as rashes and dry skin – a paste of fennel seed powder and water is applied to the skin – so that the skin can absorb all of the minerals and keep your skin stays moist, clean and healthy. Use cooled and strained version of the fennel infusion as a toner and for added benefit add a few drops of fennel essential oil. Use about 30ml fennel seeds and about 1.5litres of boiling water – lean over – cover head with a towel – steam face for 5-8minutes – this aids in opening up and cleansing the skin. Take about 100ml fennel infusion – add this to about 30ml oatmeal and 10ml honey – and you have a facemask – apply over face – leave for about 15-20minutes and wash off with some lukewarm water.

Taking of “YOU” and your personal beauty needs is not as time consuming, difficult or as expensive as you might think. A few of the spice cupboard, pantry and kitchen essentials are all that you need to pamper YOU and let YOUR natural beauty shine through. There you go – don’t starve YOUR body of the pampering it so deserves.

Care & Precautions When Using Natural Products

  • Even natural products come with side effects and therefore one needs to be cautious and aware of allergies when consuming it or using it as part of a beauty regime
  • Should you be pregnant, breast-feeding or susceptible to hormone related conditions – Please seek medical help before consuming fennel seeds

In India and in Ayurvedic medicine “Fennel Seeds” are commonly used, simply because of its ability to heal/treat/cure a list of ailments (with caution always).

The next time you want to add a “Naturally Healthy Bonus” to your diet – look no further than fennel seeds or even the fennel plant – they would fit right in with long term “Healthy Living Goals

In India and more so in Gujarat during the summer months “Variyali/Fennel Sharbaat/Drink” is a popular preferred alternative to fennel tea/infusion – simply because the tangy drink is “hydrating and cooling”.  There are numerous other benefits of enjoying and consuming this drink on regular basis – weight loss, detoxifies the body by ridding it of acidity and reducing stress levels – and all of this is possible because of the list of antioxidants that fennel contains. I will be sharing two recipes ASAP – one for fennel tea/infusion and one for the fennel/variyali shaarbat/milkshake or smoothie

All of the above images have been sourced from the internet

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