Monday, 9 September 2013

Figs – back in season!

Figs are most commonly consumed dried throughout the year, but nothing can beat the unique taste and texture of fresh figs. They are beautifully sweet, with the different textures like the chewiness of the flesh, the smoothness of the skin, and the crunchiness of the seeds, complimenting every mouthful.

Figs are part of the mulberry family and come in many varieties, but come into season in September in the UK, so this is the time when they are at their most flavourful and plentiful. So what are the health benefits?

·         Figs are low in calories, totting up to only 74kcal per 100g – so by adding figs to desserts or dishes for natural sweetness or flavour can be a great alternative

·         Figs are high in fibre providing 2.9g of fibre per 100g – your recommended intake is 25g per day. By meeting these requirements you can aid digestion and regular bowel movements, and decrease the risk of some cancers

·         Figs are rich in vitamins such as A, E, K and vitamin C. All of which are vital for the body to grow, repair and maintain its healthy state

·         Both fresh figs and dried figs are excellent sources of B vitamins which are needed for the healthy metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates

·         Figs are rich in antioxidants which prevent certain cancers in developing, infections, diabetes and reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes

·         Figs are rich in cholorgenic acid which some studies have shown to help control blood sugars and control blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes

·         Figs, particularly dried figs, are excellent sources of minerals such as iron and copper, (needed for red blood cell production) calcium, (needed for teeth and bones) and potassium (an important component in cell structure and body fluid).

Recipe time! Figs are fantastic in recipes, and there shape and colour can add flare and a touch of fancy to any dish! Here are a couple of recipes, one of mine and one from the ‘BBC good food’ website, both are deceptively easy, and are just delicious.

Sticky Cinnamon Figs – this is great low fat dish
8 ripe figs
Large knob of butter cut into eight small pieces
4 tbsp. of clear honey
2 tbsp. of chopped pistachios
1 tsp. of ground cinnamon
Greek yoghurt or low-fat vanilla yoghurt to serve (Rachel’s yoghurt is lovely!)
1.       Cut a deep cross in the top of each fig, and sit the figs in a deep baking dish (I would line it with tin foil to prevent excess scrubbing of your dish!), drop a piece of butter into the top of the fig and drizzle with honey and top with the cinnamon and chopped nuts. You can use any nuts you like in this dish, but pistachios compliment the dish well.
2.       Pop under a medium heat grill for 5mins, until softened, then pop the figs on top of the yoghurt, spooning the sauce in the bottom of the dish on top, and done!

Prosciutto and fig-finger sandwiches – a great twist on a packed lunch or great finger food!
Butter, for spreading
4 slice of ciabatta or white bread
50g of thinly sliced prosciutto
2 figs
½ tsp. of olive oil
½ tsp. of balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
Rocket leaves
1.       Butter the slices of bread and fold the prosciutto over two slices.
2.       Remove the skin from the figs and slice thinly, and place over the prosciutto
3.       Mix together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and drizzle over the figs, and top with rocket leaves and the other slice of bread. To serve as finger food, if using white bread, slice off the crusts and cut into finger sized pieces. Delicious!

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