Figs at the Farmers Market
This past Saturday, I decided to attend our local farmers market that occurs every weekend here in Downtown Bryan, TX. Why is it that I’ve been living in this city for over three years and I am just now venturing out to these local events? Or rather, why I am just now hearing about these wonderful events?
In my quaint and quiet city, it seems like I have to hunt for the hidden gems. I am constantly venturing out and asking the other locals what they do, where they eat, or where they shop. I guess that’s what makes this city so special, to the outsider it remains a small town but to the locals it resembles a goldmine for hidden treasures. Treasure is indeed what I found at the farmers market on Saturday Morning.
I found fresh figs.
The simple joy that farmers markets bring me is similar to that of Christmas morning. You never know what you’re gonna find under all those covered booths. You could find fresh produce, could be homemade jams, might even be cured meats and cheeses. This Saturday though, I found fresh figs, and lots of them. My excitement was obvious when the farmer saw my smile. I bought two bowls from him and left with ideas swimming in my head about what to make with them.
The Power of Figs
Figs have more benefits than just satisfying your sweet tooth. They contain nutrients, vitamins and may even have healing benefits. They are recommended to snack on if you have high blood pressure. In 1 cup of fresh cut figs, there is around 255 mg of bioavailable potassium. By increasing your potassium and lowering your sodium intake, your blood pressure can naturally decrease.
- Why?- The fluid levels in the body are regulated by sodium/ potassium pumps. These pumps work in opposition with each other. When we consume too much sodium (and not enough potassium) our blood pressure increases, also called hypertension. When we consume more potassium, the fluid levels can balance out, maintain smooth muscle contractions, regulate heart rate and maintain water balance within the body.
Furthermore, figs are naturally cholesterol free, low fat, and contain only 3mg of sodium (that’s 0% Daily Value). They also contain vitamin C, Calcium, Magnesium and a bit of Iron, making these little guys a powerhouse to add to your snack. Because of the amount of calcium in a serving of fresh/dried figs, this can help reduce your chances of lost calcium through urination, AKA healthier bones and teeth.
Figs are also known for their fiber content. They contain a soluble fiber called ‘Pectin’, which can help reduce the chance of constipation and colon cancer. It can also lower your current cholesterol level.
- Why?- Soluble fiber essentially helps clean your system by bringing cholesterol bits back to your liver to be broken down and eliminated from the body. Fiber in general promotes healthy and regular bowel movements, reducing the chance of constipation or the opposite, diarrhea. This regularity helps to reduce the chance of colon cancer later on in life.
Creative Ways to Incorporate Figs
- Fresh figs
- If you’re lucky, your local grocery store may carry fresh figs during their peak season (June-September). You might also find them at your local farmers market during this time. Fresh figs are hard to come by but they taste so good when eaten by themselves. The skin, flesh and seeds of the fig fruit are all edible, except for the stem.
- Dried Figs
- During the remainder of the year, dried figs are great too. I find dried figs where I usually find raisins and other dried fruits. They are great to add in cereals and yogurt, or simply munch on the fruit by itself.
- Fig granola
- Check out my homemade granola recipe that incorporates dried figs and dried apricots for a yummy n’ crunchy breakfast… Fig & Apricot Granola
- Figgy Guacamole
- Combining two of my favorite ingredients, here is a rendition of an ol’ time popular recipe by The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics… Figgy Guacamole
- Chocolate covered figs
- It’s just like it sounds. Melt some chocolate and pick some fresh figs, you’ve got yourself a new (and healthy) dessert! …Chocolate Covered Figs
- Making your own Fig Jam
- If you have plenty of figs to spare, try making your own fig jam by mashing them down or bringing them to a boil. The natural sugar on morning toast will excite any sweet tooth lover… Homemade Fig Jam
- Fig and Prosciutto Flat bread
- Thinking of using figs for dinner instead of dessert? Try combining goat cheese, prosciutto and figs on a flat bread pizza. Pair it with some white wine and call it a ‘sweet date’ night (haha get it?- dates and figs)…Fig and Prosciutto Pizza
- Fig smoothie
- Throw some figs, bananas, almond milk and almond butter together in a blender and wha-la, you’ve got yourself a protein & potassium packed snack.
The academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. www.eatright.org
Healing Foods by DK books. First American Edition, 2013
All photos were taken by and for The Healthy Chew, all rights reserved
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email me at StephanieRackley@thehealthychew.org