Thursday, September 8, 2011

Figs and Honey

I love fig season. Until several years ago, I think the only figs I ever had or heard of were fig newtons. It wasn’t until I studied abroad (um ok 9yrs ago!) in Florence when I ate my first fresh fig. My host mother scurried outside her kitchen door and picked figs off of her tree and came back in and served them to me. I looked at her puzzled wondering what it was. She didn't speak any English and I didn't know the Italian word for fig, so it wasn't until I looked it up did I know what I was eating. Ever since then I love figs. When I came back to the states, I never bought them in the store and it wasn’t until last year that I rediscovered my love for them. They come into season in late August. Unfortunately they don’t grown local to New England and are grown in California. Whole Foods has them on sale right now though- so it is a great time to try them. I get both the Black Mission or Brown Turkey variety- both are great.

My favorite way to eat them is cut in half or cut in quarters and dip them in raw honey. Simple, yet delicious.  Perfect for a late summer dessert.

The fig season is short, so ENJOY them fresh while they are around!

Nutritional Benefits:
 -rich source of Potassium which helps regulate blood pressure. Also great for maintaining muscle function to prevent cramps.
-great source of fiber to help with weight management and regulating digestion
-good source of calcium and manganese
-one of the most alkaline fruits- providing balance to the body since the Standard American Diet is    highly acidic.

Raw Honey:
Most honey is pasteurized and filtered. This makes it easier to handle, looks cleaner on the shelf and slows crystallization. However, when this honey is heated, all enzymes, vitamins and minerals are destroyed. Raw honey is so much more nutritious, has more health benefits and I think it tastes much better too! It is can be more of a cream or crystallized consistency and can be used as a spread or as a dip (like with the figs). Try to buy local raw honey. You can find local raw honey at farmers markets, farms and Whole Foods.
-high level of antioxidants and phytonutrients
-Ergogenic aid (athletic performance enhancer) -study showed increased performance with athletes vs. when ingested sugar or maltodextrin
- B vitamins    
-potassium, iron, magnesium, calcium
-Immune system booster