April/May/June 2009 Fig Focus

Valley Fig Growers Sponsors PBS Series, Joanne Weir’s Cooking Class

Reaching into consumer’s homes in 2009-2010, Valley Fig Growers is a proud sponsor of Joanne Weir’s Cooking Class. A wonderful PBS series that focuses on Mediterranean cooking and features Joanne Weir, an award-winning cooking teacher, cookbook author and fig lover! Taped entirely in Weir’s home kitchen in San Francisco, the series invites viewers to join Joanne and her real-life students as they work side-by-side. Check your local listings for the time. Sign up for Joanne’s email newsletter at her Web site, cookingclass.joanneweir.com. Her most recent issue features some of her favorite fig recipes, Pork Tenderloin with Onion, Orange and Dried Fig Marmalade, Oatmeal Cookies with Figs, Chocolate Chips and Walnuts and Crostini with Dried Fig Paste and Goat Cheese.

Crostini with Dried Fig Paste and Goat Cheese

  • 1 cup Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Figs, stems removed and quartered
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • Pinch salt
  • 5 ounces fresh goat cheese, room temperature
  • 18 baguette slices, sliced on a sharp diagonal
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced

Place the figs, orange juice, water, orange zest and salt in a saucepan.  Over low heat, simmer until the figs are soft and 2 tablespoons of the liquid remains, 20 to 30 minutes.  If the mixture becomes dry, add water to keep it moist.  Cool the mixture and puree in a blender or food processor to make a paste.  Reserve. Toast the baguette slices.  Spread the fig paste on top of the crostini distributing evenly.  Place the goat cheese in a bowl and mash.  Spread about ½ tablespoon goat cheese over the fig paste.  Sprinkle with the green onions. Serves 6

Mother’s Day, May 10

While traditionally one of the biggest days to eat out, this Mother’s Day will likely find many families celebrating at home. Make Mother’s Day special with our Raspberry-Fig Napoleons. While enjoying dessert together, share a fond memory with mom, it’s worth far more than any store bought gift. “Mom, I’ll never forget the time when you and I ……”.

Fathers Day, June 21

Delight dad on Father’s Day with a hug, a “thank you dad, I love you” and some time spent together. This Father’s Day suggest the family go on a hike. Get out of the house, away from all the chores, and enjoy exploring someplace new. Our latest and greatest recipe, Bunch of Crunch Honey Fig Granola is perfect to take along. Make a batch the night before and head out early in the day. Something as simple as a walk together, talking and reminiscing, can create a lifetime memory. Take some pictures, too.

Bunch of Crunch Honey Fig Granola

  • 1 package (about 7-oz.) Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Figs
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 cups popped corn (low sodium, low fat microwave popcorn)
  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans or almonds
  • 2  tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest (optional)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Adjust rack to middle of oven and heat to 300°F. Remove fig stems and cut each fig into four pieces. In small saucepan, combine figs, water and 2 tablespoons honey. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and set aside for 5 minutes. Drain well. In large bowl, stir together popped corn, oats, nuts, sesame seeds, cinnamon and salt. In small saucepan, stir oil and 1/4 cup honey over low heat for a few seconds, till blended. Remove from heat and stir in orange zest and vanilla. Pour over oat mixture, add figs and toss well. Spread on oiled 15-x-10-inch rimmed baking sheet or 9-x-13-inch baking pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until light golden brown. Place pan on rack to cool. Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Makes about 5 1/2 cups.

On the Nutrition Front

By Cherryl Bell, RD, MS

One Size Does Not Fit All

MyPyramid offers personalized eating plans and interactive tools to help you plan and assess your food choices based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.The new MyPyramid Menu Planner is the latest in a series of on-line nutrition tools developed by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP). The Planner is provided free of charge and can help motivate you to make healthier food choices. According to Dr. Brian Wansink, Executive Director of the CNPP, “It has three benefits. Based on the information you provide, it interactively shows whether your diet is balanced and allows you to track it. It gives you an easy way to know whether you are losing or gaining weight based on what you plan to eat. And it helps you plan upcoming meals.” After you enter your age, sex, height, weight and physical activity level, you can begin entering food items and amounts you might consume each day. The screen displays visual feedback as each item is added. From this, various reports can be seen and printed which include a daily, weekly or family menu, a breakdown by food item, and goal setting worksheets. MyPyramid Tracker is another web-based interactive tool that helps you compare your diet and physical activity to current health recommendations. You can enter the foods you eat and your physical activities for a day and obtain the energy balance between them. MyPyramid Tracker provides you with detailed, personalized results.

Healthy Eating Tips from MyPyramid

  • Make half your grains whole
  • Vary your veggies
  • Focus on fruit
  • Get your calcium rich foods
  • Go lean with protein
  • Find your balance between food and physical activity
  • Keep food safe to eat

Nutrition Research Update

According to researchers at the Center for Human Nutrition at UT Southwestern, diabetics on high-fiber diets might need extra calcium. The amount of calcium your body absorbs might depend, in part, on the amount of dietary fiber you consume. “We already know that fiber helps improve your cholesterol and glucose control and improves your bowel regularity. Our new findings suggest that dietary fiber reduces the body’s capacity to absorb calcium,” said Dr. Abhimanyu Garg, professor of internal medicine and senior author of a study appearing online in Diabetes Care. “Because more calcium equals better bone health, we recommend that people on high-fiber diets talk to their physician about increasing their dietary calcium as well, in order to get the most benefit from both.” Prior research at UT Southwestern has shown that a high intake of dietary fiber, mostly from fruits and vegetables, lowers blood glucose levels and leads to decreased insulin levels in the blood, as well as lowering blood lipid concentrations in patients with type 2 diabetes, the most prevalent type of diabetes. “We should encourage people to try food sources rich in fiber and calcium such as spinach, broccoli, figs, papaya, artichoke, okra, beans, mustard and turnip greens, and cactus pads.” Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center (2009, March 31). Diabetics On High-fiber Diets Might Need Extra Calcium.

Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice Fig Balsamic Vinegar Wows Crowds from the East Coast to the West Coast!

We’re taking our new Fig Balsamic Vinegar on the road and it looks like we’ve got a winner. From the Fancy Food Shows in New York City and San Francisco, to the International Association of Culinary Professionals in Denver, crowds are giving our Fig Balsamic Vinegar rave reviews. “It’s really good.” “I can use this on my salad and save lots of calories without losing any flavor.” “It’s delicious, I never thought of a fruit vinegar like this.” “Where can I buy it?” At our Grower’s Store, of course. For a simple appetizer, drizzle olive oil on a small plate, drizzle a little Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice Vinegar and serve with crusty olive bread, sour dough or rosemary focaccia.

Prevention magazine names figs The Best Dried Fruit for its fiber, calcium and phenols.

Prevention magazine helps consumers make good/better/best healthful choices in Go Power Shopping, an aisle-by-aisle nutritional guide to supermarket superstars. Quoted in the article is Dave Grotto, author of 101 Foods That Could Save You Life! “With about one-third of your day’s supply of fiber per 1/2-cup serving, figs pack more than any other dried fruit. Fiber helps you stay full, so figs are a powerful hunger suppressant. Each 1/2 cup has as much calcium as 1/2 ounce of cheese and contains phenols that may guard against heart disease and cancer.” Source: Prevention.com March 2009.

Mark Bittman, New York Times’ columnist and cookbook author, recently featured a recipe for Fig Stuffed Pork Loin.

“I soak some figs — less sweet, better-tasting, and perhaps handsomer than apricots and prunes — in water or wine.” “The result is quite fabulous. The figs are imbued with the flavor of the meat. The meat gains moisture, sweetness and complexity from the figs. The presentation is considerably lovelier than an unadorned roast. And the workload? About five minutes extra.” New York Times, 3-13-2009 Fig Stuffed Pork Loin.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and tag us @valleyfig —we’d love to see what you’re cooking on Instagram and Facebook!

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