Seasonal Spotlight: Get Figgy With It
Can you imagine current Olympic athletes getting a fig instead of a medal? That’s exactly what early Olympians received for their efforts, despite the fact that they also used them as training food.
Figs have been a documented food source for over 11,000 years, slowly making their way across the world as the Spanish conquered faraway lands. They landed in the U.S. via California, where 100 percent of our country’s dried figs still come from – and another 98 percent of fresh ones.
Figs grow on trees, from branches that have no blossoms, which is a little strange. But it gets weirder; the branches don’t have blossoms because the blossom is actually inside of the fig fruit! There are tons of tiny flowers that create crunchy edible seeds, giving the fig their interesting texture.
There are actually quite a few different kinds of figs, and all of them are very healthy. Here are a few of our favorite figs in the United States.
Also called black figs, these little guys pack a nutritional punch, with one serving providing:
- 110 calories
- 240 mg potassium
- 6 percent daily value of calcium and iron
- 20 percent daily value of dietary fiber
Considered a common fig, the Brown Turkey is full of antioxidants and dietary fiber. Just 3-5 figs, depending on their size, are considered a full serving of fruit. They can be eaten dried or fresh, but the nutritional value varies based on each.
Like all the fig varieties, the Sierra fig is very low in sodium, making it a perfect addition to the Mediterranean diet. Sierra figs are high in calcium, with one serving providing up to 10 percent of your daily intake. They have more protein than other strains, and a significant amount of iron.
Kadota figs are true to their name, with a light green hue to their outer skin. Also full of dietary fiber, calcium, potassium and iron, there is a downside to this and every fig. Most of the little over 100 calories they provide, are from natural sugars. While this does give you an energy boost when needed, it can also induce “crashing.” Eating these – and every fig – in moderation is suggested.
Fig Salad Recipe
The best way to enjoy figs is exactly the way they came! For this recipe, you’ll need fresh figs – which may result in a run to your local farmer’s market. This salad is perfect for a summer lunch or as an addition to a healthy dinner.
2 heads of romaine lettuce
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
2 fresh figs
1/4 cup vinaigrette dressing (or to preference)
- Chop the romaine lettuce
- Peel the oranges, remove the pith and cut into segments
- Slice figs into 1-inch cubes
- Combine the lettuce, oranges, cheese and figs in a large bowl
- Drizzle dressing and toss to coat
- Serve and refrigerate any remaining salad.
- Makes 4 full servings