Saturday, February 25, 2012

Roasted Fennel + Sweet Potatoes

Do you have a favorite vegetable or side dish? You know, the one you enjoy at least once each week. Yeah, we definitely have that “go-to” veggie at my house. We can always count on…broccoli. While I love broccoli and other typical vegetables trying a new method or combination can be fun, exciting, and really spice things up!

I used to struggle with sugar cravings. I would always jump at the opportunity to indulge in a cupcake, ice cream cone, chocolate chip cookie, etc.  Since I have added more sweet veggies (squash, carrots, sweet potatoes) into my diet I have been able to, for the most part, kick these cravings! Woohoo! If you can relate to this type of craving, I encourage you to do the same! “Crowd out” the unhealthy options by adding more naturally sweet veggies and fruit to your diet.
Image from: Backyard Gardening

This recipe is a great side dish that pairs fennel and sweet potatoes. Fennel is a crunchy, refreshing, and slightly sweet vegetable that can most commonly be identified in Italian cooking. Typically you’ll find fennel available late fall through early spring. Oh and just so you know, you can eat the entire thing – bulb, bushy green sprigs, and the seeds.

Fennel contains some unique phytonutrients, including Anethole, which has been shown to reduce inflammation and prevent the occurrence of cancer. It is also high in vitamin c, fiber, folate, and potassium. What does this mean? Fennel aids in proper functioning of the immune system, may reduce elevated cholesterol levels and blood pressure thus preventing risk of stroke and heart attack. All in all, add fennel to your diet!

2 large fennel bulbs, quartered with green bushy tops reserved for later use
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
Himalayan sea salt (or whatever you have at home)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add the sweet potatoes and fennel to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with EVOO, sprinkle with sea salt and use your hands (or spoon) to mix things up. Make sure the veggies are evenly coated. 

Left: Before roasting; Right: After roasting
Transfer the vegetables to a large jellyroll pan (baking sheet with edges) and roast for 25-30 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven, spoon them into a serving bowl, top with green fennel sprigs, and serve!

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