It's that time of year; the hot, sexy summer air is about to give way to the cool, crisp autumnal flavors of fall. And figs are in abundance to aid us in the transition. It's a small window when figs are piled high in our grocery stores and farmers markets at relatively affordable prices, and there's no better fruit to experiment with in the wonders of gourmet cooking (or snacking) than the fig.
Not only is this fleshy fruit revered for its unique aesthetic (it's actually an inverted flower!) and luscious sweet taste with a texture that combines a chewy flesh, silky skin and delicate seeds, but figs happen to be remarkably nutritious. Naturally fat- and sodium-free, you'll find in figs a good source of:
- potassium, a mineral that helps control blood pressure
- calcium which promotes bone density
- iron, as a deficiency can lead to lethargy, short attention span and fatigue, among other things
- fiber, containing more than any other fruit or vegetable around, which has been shown to aid in weight management
Though harder to come by (you could ask a local fig farmer), the leaves of a ficus tree on which the fig grows, have been shown to have antidiabetic properties and can actually reduce the amount of insulin needed by those with diabetes who require insulin injections. The leaves also provide many other health uses that you can check out here.
Fresh figs are also highly recommended during pregnancy as they contain a proteolytic enzyme that aids in digestion (that's naturally slowed during pregnancy) and are highly alkaline, helping out with those crazy cravings. But perhaps most infamous of all, figs are prized as an aphrodisiac and have always been associated with fertility (interest piqued:11 Foods that Get Your Sex Drive Going Naturally).
Whatever your reason may be, embrace the fig now, for the fresh ones will be gone before long. But remember, they are highly perishable. So buy only what you can eat in a couple days or what your recipe calls for, perhaps this Organic Fig Almond Frangipani Tart.
image: House of Sims