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Fig Nutrition Facts

Q: What is the succulent fruit of the ficus tree?
A: The fig of course!

The fig is actually not a fruit but a flower that has inverted itself, producing an edible, sweet, chewy, seed-filled flesh. If your only exposure to or taste of a fig is via a “newton,” (aka cookie) then you’re missing out on one of the world’s healthiest and tastiest fruits!

Cleopatra’s favorite fruit, the fig, originated in western Asia and is thought to have been introduced to the U.S. by a Spanish missionary in the late 1500’s. The nutritional benefits of figs are astounding. They are low in calories, delicious, a good source of dietary fiber and contain vitamins and minerals such as potassium, vitamin B6 and manganese. They are rich in disease fighting phytochemicals (flavonoids and polyphenols).

A fig can be eaten both fresh and dried and are primarily grown in California (where they are known as ‘mission’ figs). There are over 100 varieties that vary in texture, color, flavor (slightly) and size.

Fig Calories, selection and preparation

One fresh fig (2.5″ in diameter or about 64 grams) provides only 47 calories, 0 g fat and 2 g dietary fiber. California varieties  are in season June through September. Beware: fresh figs are very perishable fruits (meaning they go bad fast). Purchase yours two days maximum before you plan to eat them. Choose figs that are plump and tender but not mushy, have firm stems and are bruise-free. Avoid figs that have a sour smell. Choose those with a mildly sweet scent.

Wash fresh figs before you eat or cook them under cool water. Gently remove stems before wiping them dry. You can simply pop dried figs right in your mouth, use fresh or dried figs in recipes (below) or simmer them in water/fruit juice for a few minutes to make them plump and juicy.

FIG RECIPE
Fig and Arugula Salad with Parmesan
Ingredients

2 Tbs minced shallots
1 1/2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 fresh figs, each cut in half lengthwise
6 cups trimmed arugula (about 6 ounces)
1/4 cup shaved (about 1 ounce) fresh Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add figs; cover and let stand 20 minutes. Add arugula and pepper; toss well. Top with cheese. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Facts for Fig and Arugula Salad with Parmesan
(per serving): 152.7 calories; 32% calories from fat; 5.7 g total fat; 5.5 mg cholesterol; 253 mg sodium; 371 mg potassium; 24 g carbohydrates; 3.8 g fiber; 16.8 g sugar; 4.4 g protein.

Roasted Vegetables: healthy & delicious

About roasted vegetables

Year round you can find tasty, budget-friendly produce that is ‘in season’, particularly in the autumn and winter months to prepare roasted vegetables. Roasted vegetables make a great crowd pleaser for parties or an everyday ordinary dinner with the family. If you’ve not tried them before, you’ll be pleasantly surprised! Roasting vegetables draws out their natural sugars, creating a crunchy, browned outside and a juicy, tender inside.

How-to prepare roasted vegetables

To begin your roasted vegetables dies, line a roasting pan with foil and spray it generously with non-stick cooking spray or simply choose an aluminum oven-ready pan. Slice/cube variety of seasonal root/winter veggies (that you have washed to remove dirt and debris) for your roasted vegetables side dish. Good choices include parsnips (peel them first), sweet, white, Yukon or baby new potatoes, carrots, onions (sweet onions work well and color), cauliflower, eggplant, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash and any other hearty veggies you enjoy. Be sure to slice/cut the vegetables in fairly uniform pieces for even cooking. Prepare more than you think you will need/be very generous with your ‘mound’ of cut-up veggies. Since vegetables have a very high percentage of water, dry cooking methods, such as roasting, removes much of the water and shrinks them. This concentrates the flavor though the volume decreases significantly. Post-roasting, you will end up with a smaller mound of roasted vegetables.

Drizzle the veggies generously with olive oil and add a sprinkle of your favorite dried herbs, such as rosemary, basil, oregano and thyme (fresh herbs will ‘burn’ in the hot 420-degree oven). Toss well with your hands to coat all of the veggies and spread in the pan in a fairly even, single layer (as best as possible). The last step is to add a pinch of sea salt and a generous grind of pepper. ‘Roast’ in a 400-degree oven for about 40 minutes. Pair your delicious roasted vegetables with roasted chicken, pork tenderloin or any main meat.

Rich Chocolate Mousse make-over

Rich chocolate mousse is an ideal holiday dessert – especially for company when you are looking to impress. Conventional recipes, made with heavy whipping cream as a base, in addition to semi-sweet chocolate, egg yolks, butter and sugar puts you at about 330 calories and 25 g of fat (mostly saturated) per serving.

Simple swaps – instead of heavy whipping cream, try silken tofu (puree well in a food processor until smooth and creamy). Use half high quality, extra-dark (bittersweet) chocolate and half cocoa (combine and melted in a double boiler) to mix into the pureed silken tofu (along with superfine sugar). Vanilla extract and a tbsp of brandy (or espresso powder if you don’t want the alcohol), enhances flavor further. The result? This simple trade-offs do not sacrifice flavor or texture but, per serving (same size), you are looking at about 250 calories and 10 g of fat – a big difference – even with a spoonful of real whipping cream on top.