Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Sensualists' Superfood

Figs are so misunderstood. Since we tend to stick with what we know, we often skip over the fig and go for bananas, apples or oranges because figs seem so, well, foreign.

To me, a ripe fig is as alluring and seductive as a woman in her pleasure: sweet, yielding, sensual, mysterious and a gift to all she encounters. The fig was Cleopatra’s favorite fruit and also highly prized by the Sumerians, Greeks and Romans, not to mention the founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha, who sat under the Bodhi Tree (a species of fig) to gain enlightenment.

Figs are truly the original superfood. I say screw the $3 bottle of vitamin water or the $15 a pound goji berries and get yourself some figs – they taste so much better.

While I encourage eating for pleasure and satisfaction first, here are some hard facts on figs that might serve as your tipping point to trying them:

•Figs contain very high levels of B6 (seratonin boosting and water retention-helping), calcium (good for bone density) and potassium (stress soother, energy & sugar metabolizing).

They contain more soluble fiber than any other fruit – these suckers will keep you regular and help control your blood sugar.

Fresh figs are in season through the fall and it’s the perfect time to give them a whirl. The two we encounter most are the dark purple ones, which are Mission figs and the pale green ones, which are Calimyrna. They should feel heavy for their size and have a slight give to the touch. If ripe, they'll last three days (MAX) in the fridge. If left on the counter, they'll get wrinkly and concentrated in sugar, which isn't a bad thing at all.

Ways To Eat Fresh Figs

At my fave brunch spot in Chicago – The Publican, they serve a plate of fresh ricotta with sliced figs and toasted hazelnuts drizzled with chestnut honey. Freaking phenomenal. You can also do Greek yogurt, figs, walnuts and honey.

Snicky Snack
Cut open the top of a fig and stuff with a touch of gorgonzola cheese and a walnut. Meat eaters, take it a step further and wrap with prosciutto. Drizzle with balsamic.

Lunch & Dinner

Make a salad or a pizza with a mix of one or more of the following ingredients that go great with figs:

arugula, red leaf lettuce, walnuts, pine nuts, sheep feta, Manchego, goat cheese, melon, prosciutto, bacon, mint, rosemary, red onions, caramelized onions, walnut oil, extra virgin olive oil, real, aged, balsamic vinegar

There's also a recipe from The Zuni Cafe Cookbookby Judy Rodgers, that I have yet to make but will be soon: Chicken Braised with Figs, Honey & Vinegar. The recipe was published in the New York Times a few years back and it looks like an easy and delicious one pot meal.


Hannah said...

Thanks for the tips, I've been wanting to eat more figs!

stacy di said...

loving your blog...just discovered it via Daily Candy.

oh, and I adore figs...

Rondell said...

Ain't figs kinda like prunes? My great aunt Trudy always eating prunes and stinking up the whole house.

Dana Joy said...


actually, no. prunes are dried plums and have a very different texture. fresh figs are not smelly at all and have a rich, variegated texture and aren't as sweetly concentrated as prunes. they do however help,a s prunes do with the ol' pipes if you know what I mean.

so glad you stopped by!!

Lydia Marchuk said...

I love, love, love figs. Will have to try them at the Publican!

Louisa Neumann said...

Hands down my favorite fruit. John and I were in San Francisco recently and had figs at Zuni Cafe. So it was fun to read your post! We're still waiting for our fig tree to ripen. Eager to try Publican next time we're in the Windy!

Elizabeth Fiend said...

I wonder where you're getting your nutritional data from. According to this nutritional breakdown,

1 large fig has 7% dietary fiber, hardly the MOST of any fruit. the simple apple has the same amount. And that same large fig has only 2% of yr daily calcium, with 4% B6 and potassium. good, but not SUPER. Elizabeth Fiend

Dana Joy said...

wow,a Fiend indeed! I trust my information source but also believe it's hard to find reliable information these days - everyone has their own facts and figures floating around. but I so appreciate your sleuthing and the goddessly way you corrected me! hai-ya!

Carol said...

Silly question but figs are completely foreign to me: how do you prepare a fig for consumption? Are there seeds or a skin to be removed before eating?

Carol said...

Silly question but figs are completely foreign to me: how do you prepare a fig for consumption? are there seeds or a skin to be removed first before eating?

Dana Joy said...

I love and appreciate your honesty, carol. figs do not need peeling or seeding. just wash and eat them. Trim the stem at the top if you need to. they should have a little give to the touch. I love the purple mission figs best. give those a try first.

thanks for coming by!

Coffee and Vanilla said...

Thank you for this post... for a while now I want to try fresh figs, never did before because I had no idea how to use them and I used to buy only dried ones only ;)

YaYa X6 said...

We have two fig trees and we have LOTS of fresh figs every year.
I make fig syrup for the grands and fig butter (like apple butter)with the pulp that is left over. We also make candied figs for the Christmas season and dried figs for snacking camping hiking... The fig butter can be used in baking to take place of oil in sweet breads and cakes (just remember to use less sugar)