I talk a lot about my picky eaters, but today I want to salute my little adventurous eater, Birdie. I love watching her eat. She’s always so excited with new foods and explores them thoroughly. She reminds me of myself when I was little. I loved eating just about everything, except steak. My mom would rarely serve things like cooked beets or Brussel sprouts because my dad and I were the only ones who would eat them out of a family of 6. I liked it all- spinach, turnips, peas, carrots, you name it!
I also remember loving hot lunches at school. I know…many of you are making the Yuck! face. I’m oh so familiar with that face. While all the other kids in school would make Yuck! faces at the turkey cubes and mashed potatoes, I’d gobble them up, after making the official Yuck! face myself since I wanted to fit in. Don’t get me started on the peanut butter balls…those were divine! In all fairness, I don’t think I truly loved all the school lunch foods as much as I loved new flavors. There was something exciting about the unknown and all those little compartments on the tray. Would this new food be salty or sweet? What would the texture be like? What in the heck is fruit cocktail? It’s no wonder I ended up in a career that is centered around food.
Birdie is just like this. I adore watching her explore and taste her new foods just like this simple fennel recipe we grilled the other night. I didn’t think Fennel was going to be real kid friendly, but it’s one of my favorites and super easy to make so I threw a little on their plates to see what they’d do. Birdie did her thing. She started with a look of interest, “I haven’t seen this before.” This leads into her picking up the food and looking at it from every angle. She actually does this for quite awhile which really cracks me up. Then she quickly pops it in her mouth and chews rapidly with a look on her face like, “hmmmmmmm”. Then, if she likes it she’ll continue to eat until it’s gone. If she’s not so sure she’ll try another bite before completely giving up. Well, she actually liked the fennel and ate all of her serving plus another serving. Go figure.
While I spend a lot of time finding good strategies for my picky eaters I love sitting back and watching little Birdie enjoy her adventures with food. I get what it’s all about! If you love fennel like me…this recipe from my last cookbook, The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Dummies, is light, easy and wonderful. If you’ve never tried Fennel- give it a go- you just might find a liking to it like Birdie. It’s also a really simple way to add some extra vegetables and fruits to your meal the next time your grilling. Fennel is a good source of Vitamin C, Fiber, Folate and Potassium, not to mention it even provides calcium and iron as well!
Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 8 minutes Yield: 4 servings
2 fennel bulbs
1 tablespoon, plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8th teaspoon salt
1/8th teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup raw almonds, chopped
1. Heat a grill over medium-high heat. Cut the fennel bulbs in half, drizzle them with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and season with the salt and red pepper flakes. Grill the fennel for 4 to 6 minutes on each side.
2. Using a sharp knife, cut the skin away from the orange , removing the white outer portion. Cut the orange in half, break it into segments.
3. Toast the almonds in a skillet over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring or tossing constantly to avoid burning. Sprinkle the almonds over the orange slices.
4. Thinly slice the fennel andtoss it with the orange slices and almonds. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and serve.
Per serving: Calories 169 (From Fat 103); Fat 11 g (Saturated 1g); Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 235 mg; Carbohydrate 16g (dietary fiber 6g); Protein 4g.
Note: Give easy peel mandarin oranges a try with this recipe and skip the step of completely taking off the white pith from the orange segments.
Note: If serving to kids you can omit the red pepper flakes to tone down the heat.
Recipe from The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Dummies, Wiley and Sons, November 2011