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I’m a fig fanatic! Calimyrna (in the photo) is my favorite variety – isn’t it gorgeous? Figs make a great snack – solo, dipped into a dollop of peanut butter, or bathed in melted dark chocolate (try adding fresh grated ginger to the mix – yum!). I also love adding chopped figs to oatmeal, garden salads, cooked squash, sweet potatoes, and rice or couscous dishes. Their texture is amazing – both squishy and crunchy, with just the right amount of sweetness. And of course, they’re nutrition powerhouses.
Two to three of these little gems provide just 100 calories but are chock full of nutrients, including 20% of all the dietary fiber we need daily (mostly from those little bunches of seeds), potassium, calcium, and iron (fun fact: figs contain more minerals than any other fruit). They’re also loaded with disease-fighting antioxidants called polyphenols - the same type that make red wine and tea so healthful (polyphenols are linked to lowering the risk of both heart disease and cancer, our nation's top two killers).
These beauties also have a rich history. I have 10 figgy facts for you today:
-Figs are thought to be indigenous to western Asia
-There are almost 20 different varieties of figs
-Figs were reportedly Cleopatra’s favorite fruit
-Solon, the ruler of Attica (639-559 BC), prohibited the export of figs out of Greece
-Early Olympic athletes ate figs during training; they’re known as the “fitness fruit”
-Figs are mentioned in Homer’s Iliad, and the Odyssey
-Figs have more fiber than any other kind of dried fruit
-Fig Newton cookies were introduced in 1891
-Figs grow on the Ficus tree
-Figs are actually inverted edible flowers
And here’s a link to 220 fig recipes!
P.S. I eat dried figs year round but fresh figs are a special treat. They’re in season in the summer and early fall.
Photo courtesy of Cynthia Sass