Friday, August 1, 2014: 7:50 am
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Get Figgy With It

Little fruit packs big vitamins

Delicious, sweet fig fruit is one of the prime fruits enjoyed since antiquity. The fig is naturally rich in health benefiting phytonutrients, antioxidants and vitamins. Dried figs, in fact, are concentrated source of minerals and vitamins. The fully ripe fig has a bell or pear shape with succulent flesh.

The fig tree is native to the temperate climate of Asia Minor or present day Turkey and today is grown commercially in the eastern Mediterranean region, the United States, and Spain.

According to the Fit Day website, figs are a uniquely nutritious fruit, as they have the highest amount of calcium of any fruit--3.5 ounces of dried figs contains 16 percent of the daily recommended amount. Figs are also an excellent source of dietary fiber, which makes them filling and can help to take the edge off appetite.

Figs are a good source of iron, magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, as well as vitamin K, according to the World’s Healthiest Foods website. Figs contain different types of antioxidants and have been shown in studies to raise antioxidant activity. Antioxidants mop up free radicals, those volatile molecules that may contribute to the development of cancer, heart disease and the visible signs of aging by damaging DNA and other body systems. The riper the fig, the more free-radical-fighting antioxidants it contains.

Curried Pineapple and Dried Fig Salsa

The combination of figs, pineapple, coconut and curry gives this salsa a pleasing sweet and spicy taste that pairs well with full-flavored entrees, such as broiled seafood, pan-seared shrimp, barbecued pork or lamb.

1 cup dried whole Mission figs, stemmed (about 6 ounces)

1 teaspoon curry powder

Pinch of crushed red pepper, or to taste

11⁄4 cups water, or as needed

13⁄4 cups diced fresh pineapple, or 20-ounce can pineapple chunks in juice (not drained)

3 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut

Combine figs, curry powder, crushed red pepper and water in a medium saucepan. (If using canned pineapple, use the pineapple liquid to cook the figs, adding water if necessary to measure 11⁄4 cups.) Bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the figs are softened and plumped, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their dryness. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the figs to a cutting board, leaving the liquid in the pan. When cool enough to handle, cut into quarters and transfer to a medium bowl. Add pineapple to the liquid in the pan. Return to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced and the pineapple is well coated, about 5 minutes. Add the pineapple mixture to the figs; stir to combine. Heat a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add coconut and toast, stirring, until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir the coconut into the fruit. Serve the salsa warm, at room temperature or chilled.

SOURCE: EATING WELL



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