Figs for a Healthy Diet - Fig, Goat Cheese & Arugula Salad

Mention of figs dates back millennia, prominent in folklore as well as a staple in the Mediterranean diet. The sacred fig is perhaps best known for its leaves that clothed Adam and Eve, and there is even speculation that the fig, not the apple, was the Biblical "forbidden fruit." Believed to have health powers, the fig was the "training fruit" of early Olympians and was awarded as the first Olympic medal. Today, the esteemed fig is a signature ingredient in fine cuisine around the world.

Figs grow on the ficus tree (Ficus carica), a member of the mulberry family. Considered a fruit, the fig is actually a flower turned into itself, housing the seeds which are actually the real fruit. There are over 150 varieties of this unique fruit that packs the delightful crunch of many tiny seeds within a thick and sweet flesh wrapped in a smooth skin. The fig has both soluble and insoluble fiber; just two medium figs provide 12 percent Daily Value (DV, requirement based on 2,000 calories per day) for dietary fiber, as well as 7 percent DV for potassium, which helps control blood pressure, and 4 percent DV for bone-building calcium.

The more deeply colored the fig, the higher it is in antioxidants. A study in the October 2006 Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry analyzed six varieties of fresh figs colored black, red, yellow, and green for bioactive plant compounds such as polyphenols, flavonoids and anthocyanin, as well as antioxidant capacity. Researchers found that the darker colored fruits, notably the Black Mission variety, were highest in all categories. Another study, in the February 2005 Journal of the American College of Nutrition, compared the phenol antioxidants of dried figs with those of fresh figs. Though the drying process decreased their polyphenol content, dried figs still produced significant antioxidant activity four hours after consumption, demonstrating their ability to overcome oxidative stress.

Seasonal treasures harvested from late summer through early fall, fresh figs are so delicate and perishable that most are dried so they can be enjoyed year-round. Choose fresh figs that are deeply colored, plump, and soft but not mushy, with a mildly sweet fragrance. Store covered and refrigerated one to two days before use. Dried figs store well for a few months in a cool, dark place, or longer if refrigerated.

Enjoy chopped figs in oatmeal and baked goods or broil honey-drizzled halves and top with yogurt or creme fraiche. For a tantalizing appetizer or salad topper, stuff figs with goat or blue cheese and almonds or walnuts.

This Fig, Goat Cheese and Arugula Salad recipe is delicious and packed with antioxidants and other healthy ingredients.

Fig, Goat Cheese and Arugula Salad

    Prep Time: 10 minutes

    Yield: Serves 4

Fig, Goat Cheese and Arugula Salad Ingredients

    1 1/2 sprigs rosemary

    1 tablespoon honey

    2 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar

    1 tablespoon water

    1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

    1/8 teaspoon salt

    1/8 teaspoon pepper

    4 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

    6 ounces arugula

    6 fresh (or dried) figs, stems removed, sliced

    1/4 cup walnuts, toasted

    4 teaspoon goat cheese

Fig, Goat Cheese and Arugula Salad Recipe Instructions

    In a food processor or metal bowl, combine rosemary, honey, vinegar, water, mustard, salt and pepper. Slowly blend in the oil.

    Combine arugula, figs and walnuts in a salad bowl. Toss dressing with salad.

    Divide salad onto four plates and garnish each with 1 teaspoon of goat cheese.

Fig, Goat Cheese and Arugula Salad Nutrition Facts Per Serving

192 calories, 5 grams (g) protein, 21 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat, 103 milligrams sodium, 3 g dietary fiber.

Figs Notable Nutrients

2 medium figs (2 1/4- inch diameter), fresh

Calories: 74

Dietary Fiber: 3 grams (12 percent DV)

Vitamin A: 142 International Units (3 percent DV)

Vitamin C: 2 milligrams (3 percent DV)

Vitamin K: 4.7 micrograms (6 percent DV)

Vitamin B6: .1 milligrams (6 percent DV)

Calcium: 35 milligrams (4 percent DV)

Magnesium: 17 milligrams (4 percent DV)

Potassium: 232 milligrams (7 percent DV)

Manganese: .1 milligrams (6 percent DV)

(DV = Daily Value)


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Fig, Goat Cheese & Arugula Salad Recipe - Figs for a Healthy Diet

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