Saturday, August 7, 2010

Eat...figs



Immortalized in the Bible, the Qur'an and Greek and Indian Mythology, figs have long been a luscious staple in the Mediterranean diet (and immortalized in North America by the Fig Newton Cookie) but many of us are not familiar with the fresh fruit. 

Dried figs are widely available but bear little in common to the experience of eating a fig right off the tree. Sweet and creamy with crunchy seeds, figs have a delicate flavour and texture that lends itself well to a variety of recipes. While most figs are grown in the Mediterranean region or even California, the fig tree can even thrive right here in Vancouver. These gorgeous specimens came from a friend's East Vancouver fig tree and I was able to feast on them 24 hours after they came off the tree. I have also spotted fig trees on jaunts around the city so keep your eyes peeled!

Interesting fact: what we call the fruit of the fig tree is actually the receptacle of a flower. The flower grows inside the "fruit" and is pollinated not by bees but wasps! Wasps enter and exit the fruit by the pore in the bottom of the fruit.

Figs, whether dried or fresh, are incredibly nutritious: four fresh figs contain 150 calories and make the perfect summer dessert. Rich in potassium (464 mg) and magnesium (34 mg) for your heart and bone building phosphorus (28 mg) and calcium (70 mg), figs are more than just a sweet treat! Figs are also rich in detoxifying fibre, with 6 grams per 4 fruits, which is one quarter of a woman's daily needs (25 g per day) or almost one sixth of a man's daily requirement (38 g per day).

Figs are also a source of iron, containing just over 1 mg of iron per 6 fruits which make them a great addition to a prenatal diet.

Fresh figs are extremely delicate and should be handled with care and eaten at once! Try them on their own or use this simple recipe. This is a great appetizer to make for company when the thought of turning on the oven seems insane in the summer heat....

Recipe: Figs with Chevre

Wash, carefully peel and quarter 6 fresh ripe figs. Top with 1 tsp goat chevre (I love Saltspring Island or Happy Days). Slice prosciutto or Serrano ham into 1 inch long ribbons and wrap fig with one piece. Arrange on tray and drizzle with pre-made balsamic reduction.

In good health,
Desiree



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