February 2019 Fig Focus

Happy Valentine’s Day

Each February, our minds drift to visions of chocolate paired with Orchard Choice and Sun-Maid California Figs. We’ve got several ideas to sweeten the month ahead. Our loaf cake will knock your socks off and is a trusty recipe to bake for gluten-free friends and family. We turned to Alanna Taylor-Tobin for inspiration. Her roots as a pastry chef and first cookbook, The Alternative Baker, delve into baked delicacies with a gluten-free slant. She’s a California Fig lover and knows her alternative flours! Think of this newsletter as our Valentine to you.

Gluten-Free Chocolate & California Fig Loaf Cake

By Alanna Taylor-Tobin   Makes 8-10 Servings   

Ingredients 

Cake:

  • 1-2 teaspoons softened butter, for pan
  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • ¾ cup (5 oz) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (2 oz) Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • ½ cup (2 ¾ oz) sweet white rice flour
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons (1 ½ oz) almond flour
  • ¼ cup (1 oz) gluten-free oat flour
  • 2 tablespoons (1/2 oz) tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup (4 oz) coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate (~70% cacao mass)
  • 1 cup (6 oz) Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs, stemmed and coarsely chopped

Ganache:

  • ½ cup (2 oz) bittersweet chocolate (~70% cacao mass), finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Handful Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs, stemmed and sliced into rounds
  • Handful toasted sliced almonds, optional for decorating
  • Sprinkle of coarse pink salt or flaky sea salt, optional for sprinkling

Directions:

1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350ºF. Butter a loaf pan and line on all sides with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, brown sugar, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together cocoa, sweet rice flour, almond flour, oat flour, tapioca flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt, adding back anything that gets caught in sifter. Stir flour mixture into egg mixture until combined. Stir in chocolate and figs.

3. Scrape batter into pan and bake until a toothpick inserted near center comes out with moist crumbs, 55-65 minutes.

4. Let cake cool 15 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

5. To make ganache, heat cream in small saucepan to a simmer. Place chocolate in small heatproof bowl and pour hot cream over. Let sit 1 minute, then add salt and vanilla and whisk smooth.

6. Let ganache sit until thickened slightly, 20-30 minutes, then pour over cake. Let sit until ganache is mostly set, 10-20 minutes, then decorate top with sliced figs, almonds, and coarse salt. Cut cake into slices using a large, sharp chef’s knife dipped in hot water and wiped clean between each cut.

7. Store cake at room temperature for up to 1 day or refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Recipe and photo by Alanna Taylor-Tobin

Nutrition Information per serving: Calories 340; Fat 15 g; Cholesterol 40 mg; Sodium 270 mg; Carbohydrates 47 g; Fiber 4 g; Protein 6 g; Calcium 99 mg; Iron 4 mg; Potassium 161 mg. 

#ValleyFigValentine — Treat Your Sweetie to a Trip for 2 to America’s Test Kitchen

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, but some things go together all year long, like chocolate and Orchard Choice and Sun-Maid California Dried Figs. We’ve teamed up with our friends at America’s Test Kitchen for one sweet photo contest: show us on Instagram how you pair chocolate and figs for a chance to win a trip for two to Boston to tour America’s Test Kitchen. Find chocolate and fig inspiration or enter and learn more

Nutrition Notes – February is American Heart Month—Commit to Better Health

As women, we tend to put others ahead of ourselves. But if we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t take care of everyone else around us. If you don’t make your health a priority, who will? 

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Heart disease claims the lives of more than 400,000 women each year – about one per minute. The good news is that you have the power to dramatically reduce your risk, and a diet rich in a variety of vegetables and fruits, lean proteins, healthy fats and whole grains is your first defense against the onset of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease. 

Cholesterol 

Cholesterol itself isn’t bad. In fact, cholesterol is just one of the many substances created and used by our bodies to keep us healthy.

Cholesterol comes from two sources: your body and food. Your liver and other cells in your body make about 75 percent of blood cholesterol. The other 25 percent comes from the foods you eat. Cholesterol is found in animal products only, which means figs are naturally cholesterol-free.

There are two types of cholesterol. If there’s too much LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood, it can lead to plaque formation in the arteries. When you have a high HDL (good) cholesterol, it is protective. It actually “shuttles” the LDL out of the arteries and protects the lining of the arteries from developing plaque. 

Set Your Nutritional Goals 

Start with small but consistent changes that can make a big difference in the long run. An adult consuming 2,000 calories daily should aim for:

  • Fruits and vegetables: At least 4.5 cups a day (5-7 Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs equals ¼ cup)
  • Fish (preferably oily fish, like salmon): At least two 3.5-ounce servings a week
  • Fiber-rich whole grains: At least three 1-ounce servings a day
  • Nuts, legumes and seeds: At least 4 servings a week, opting for unsalted varieties whenever possible

Other dietary measures: 

     •  Sodium: Less than 1,500 mg a day

     •  Sugar-sweetened beverages: Aim to consume no more than 450 calories a week

     •  Processed meats: No more than two servings a week

     •  Saturated fat: Should comprise no more than 7 percent of your total calorie intake 

Nutrition information is included in the recipes at ValleyFig.com. Fish recipes, whole grain recipes, vegetarian recipes, and recipes featuring fruits and vegetables are abundant on our website. The Fig Soy Glazed Salmon is a great recipe. Try making it with low sodium soy sauce to reduce the sodium. 

Enjoy the taste of good health with Orchard Choice and Sun-Maid California Figs. 

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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