Figs are a fruit superstar! Figs have a long, interesting past and a number of great health benefits. So what makes figs nutrition so valuable and why should you eat them? Let’s talk about that!
Figs grow from the Ficus tree which is a member of the Mulberry family. Most often, people enjoy dried figs. But when it comes to fresh figs, there are some interesting facts you may want to know. This seems crazy, but there are more than 150 varieties of figs! However, some of the most popular varieties are Black Mission, Kadota, Calimyrna, Brown Turkey, and Adriatic. Figs are believed to be originally cultivated in Egypt.
Fresh figs are a delicate fruit and should be used within 1-2 days of picking or selecting them in stores. They should be soft when ripe, without bruises, and have a firm stem. If you purchase them on the slightly firm side, you may be able to get a day or two extra from them so keep that in mind. To get the most of the antioxidants offered from a fig, it's best to eat them when fully ripe. Store them in your refrigerator until ready to use.
Numerous health benefits come from enjoying figs. About 1/2 cup of fresh figs is about 75 calories. They contain soluble dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which play an important role in maintaining optimal health. Figs are high in Vitamin A, E, and K which are all known to protect against cancer, diabetes, and degenerative diseases such as macular degeneration. Some studies suggest that the chlorogenic acid in figs helps to lower blood sugar levels and control blood glucose levels when it comes to type II diabetes. Figs are also a great source of B-complex vitamins.
Aside from all of that, figs are absolutely delicious! So when they are in season, I take full advantage of their availability. Eating them fresh on their own is always a treat. I enjoy all of the varieties, but if I had to choose one, it would be the black mission fig. The most important thing is to obviously eat them when they are ripe. That’s when you get to enjoy every bit of their natural sweetness.
Figs are often associated with the beginning of fall. So I thought this spiced fig cake would be a great one to share with you. I just love warming spices, especially when the season changes to a cooler climate. Figs, combined with the warming spices of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves, really welcomes in the season with comfort.
12 figs sliced lengthwise, 1/4 inch thick (variety of choice)
1 & 1/2 cup almond flour or cashew flour (or a combo of both)
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup melted brown butter ghee (vegan butter or coconut oil will work too)
2 eggs (2 flax eggs for vegan)
1/4 cup maple syrup (or honey)
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
1/4 cup full fat coconut milk
1) Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch tart pan with parchment paper, or grease as needed.
2) Wash figs, remove stems, and slice lengthwise about 1/4 inch thick.
3) Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl and sift together to no lumps remain.
4) Beat the eggs, brown butter ghee, maple syrup, molasses, and coconut milk.
5) Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Mix until combined. The batter will be on the thicker side. Spoon the batter evenly into the tart pan. Arrange the sliced figs on top. Press them down slightly into the batter.
6) Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool, then slice. This cake goes great with a scoop of ice cream. Try my gingerbread, cardamom, or vanilla ice cream recipe for a delicious homemade option.