Saturday, January 15, 2011

I guess I should have FIGured...

I remember my first encounter with figs was in Hebrew school, where we were given Fig Newtons as a snack before class. I always loved the chewy consistency, sweet flavor, and crunchy seeds. Little did I know then that I could eat figs sans cookie covering…Now figs are my favorite dried fruit!

Why have you done a good thing?

Since many people do not eat enough fruits and veggies, but eat excessive amounts of salt or sodium, many people are deficient in potassium. Dried and fresh figs alike, not only are deliciously sweet, but are a great source of potassium, which helps control blood pressure. Figs are also a great source of dietary fiber, which as we have said before is essential to weight management, regularity, blood sugar control, and prevention of many cancers. Figs are a great fruit source of dietary calcium, which is important for healthy bone density. For a high dose of antioxidants, eat figs in their fresh fruit form. Figs are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce the risk of heart disease and macular degeneration. Figs are believed to be associated with enhanced fertility.

Fig Recipe Ideas:

Try both Black Mission and Turkish fig varieties, although I personally prefer Black Mission.

Stuff fresh figs with goat cheese and almonds and serve an as appetizer.

Chop dried figs for salads, trail mixes, couscous, or oatmeal in the morning.

Bake with dried figs in your next cookie or muffin recipe, instead of raisins.

Try making a fig glaze:

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

½ cup water

Optional: 1 cup strong, dark roast coffee

10 dried figs, chopped

In a small pot, heat vinegar, water, and coffee if using, and bring to a boil. Add figs and reduce heat to simmer. Continue heating until sauce has thickened to syrup consistency.

Use this glaze for fish, lean meats, or chicken dishes. Try topping with chopped pistachios.

Eating out? Check out Fig and Olive, one of my favs: a delicious restaurant that uniquely incorporates figs into their menu. They have both NYC and Westchester locations

Having a cocktail party? Buy Dalmatia Fig Spread at Murray’s Cheese Shop and make crostini with fig spread and ricotta cheese!

--Amy Santo, MS RD

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