My friend has a fig tree in her yard and is always willing to share her wealth with me. But when I bring home these succulent treats, I always wonder what to do with them and if they are good for me. There are numerous health benefits in figs. Did you know that they are a great source of potassium and fiber? In one cup of figs, you would get 7.5 grams of fiber and 526 mg of potassium (you consume 460 mg of potassium in one banana). Figs are also amongst the most highly alkaline foods, making them useful in balancing the pH of the body. Since fresh figs are one of the most perishable fruits, they should be purchased only a day or two in advance of when you are planning on eating them. Look for figs that have a rich, deep color and are plump and tender, but not mushy. They should have firm stems and be free of bruises. Smelling figs can also give you clues into their freshness and taste. They should have a mildly sweet fragrance and should not smell sour, which is an indication that they may be spoiled.
There is one thing to note: Figs are among a small number of foods that contain measurable amounts of oxalates, naturally-occurring substances found in plants, animals, and human beings. When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems. For this reason, individuals with already existing kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating figs.
Tips for Incorporating Figs in your Day
- Eat figs as a healthy energy snack (one fig = 50 calories).
- Add figs to baked goods such as muffins and muesli bars.
- Add fresh figs to oatmeal or breakfast cereals.
- Poach figs in fruit juice and serve with Greek yogurt.
- Add quartered fresh figs to a salad.
- Stuff fresh figs with goat’s cheese and chopped almonds and serve as an appetizer or dessert.
- Make a fig butter by boiling dried figs in fruit juice until soft. When all the liquid has been absorbed, place the mixture in a food processor and blend until smooth. Use to spread on rice cakes, toast or crackers.
- Add chopped fresh figs to rice, quinoa or couscous dishes.
(Reference: Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, Dr Michael Murray and Dr Joseph Pizzorn)
Here is a wonderful way to use your figs from Chef Nancy !
Fresh Fig and Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad
Serve this light and cool summer salad with iced green tea and big fat wedges of Lime.
4 Cups Baby Greens
½ Cup Crumbled Goat Cheese
4 Fresh Figs, Cut in Half and then into 1/2” Half Moons
1 Cup Fresh Strawberries, Quartered
¼ Cup Dried Cranberries
1 Orange, Peeled and Coarsely Chopped
¼ Cup Toasted Slivered Almonds
Toss all the ingredients for the salad in a large salad bowl. Drizzle with the lime citrus dressing and toss again.
Lime Citrus Dressing
½ Cup Unseasoned Rice Vinegar
1 Lime, Juice and Zest
1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 TB Strawberry or Orange Jam
1 TB Coarse Grained Dijon Mustard
1 Small Shallot, Peeled
Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to Taste
Place the ingredients into a food processor or blender and pulse until well blended.