May/June/July 2013 Fig Focus

May is Mediterranean Month!

Celebrate Mediterranean Month this May. Healthy eating and healthy foods enjoyed with family and friends, that’s the Mediterranean way. Key components of Mediterranean cuisine include lots of plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts, healthy fats, such as olive oil, and fish and poultry. If desired, include red wine in moderation. Exercise is a key component of the Mediterranean lifestyle as well (check out the Health Tip #5). Try these great Mediterranean-style recipes: Mediterranean Fig Kebabs on Mixed Greens, Spaghetti with Figs, Lemon and Olive Oil, Fig & Pistachio Couscous.

Father’s Day–June 16

Plan a party for dad with a dessert that says you’re the best. Here’s our favorite, German Chocolate Cake with Fig, Coconut and Toasted Pecan Frosting.  Check out the dessert section at ValleyFig.com for other great choices.

German Chocolate Cake with Fig, Coconut and Toasted Pecan Frosting
Makes 2 single-layer cakes

Cake:
1 package (18 1/4-ounce) German Chocolate Cake Mix
Water (check package label for amount)
3 large eggs
Vegetable oil (check package label for amount)

Fig-Coconut Topping:
1 cup stemmed, chopped Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Figs
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
6 tablespoons whipping cream
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans

Follow package directions to heat oven, grease two 8-inch round cake pans and prepare cake batter with water, eggs and oil. Bake and cool as directed. For frosting, in medium saucepan combine figs, sugar, butter and cream. Stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer. Simmer 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in coconut and pecans. Spread warm frosting on top of cake layers, dividing evenly. Place one layer at a time on a baking sheet or heatproof pan. Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat for 15 to 30 seconds, or until frosting bubbles, watching constantly. Remove from oven. Repeat with second layer. Cool. Transfer cake layers to serving plates to serve.

If It’s July, It’s Hammock Day!

Looking for a good reason to kick back and enjoy a relaxing summer day? Are you stressed and need some down time? We’ve got an idea—embrace Hammock Day!

Yes, there’s really a Hammock Day and it’s in July.  Jump into your hammock and catch a quick nap, try closing your eyes and visualizing yourself in a peaceful place, or how about reading that book you’ve had for months. After some relaxing time in the hammock, you’re ready to hang (excuse the pun) with friends for a afternoon of food and fun. Make our Mediterranean Picnic Sandwich ahead of time and you’ll have even more hammock time!

Easy Mediterranean Picnic Sandwich

Makes 8 servings

Filling:
7 ounces Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Figs, stems removed
1/2 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
1/3 cup pitted and chopped kalamata olives
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil (1 1/2 teaspoons dry basil)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons each water and drained capers
Salt and pepper to taste

Sandwich:
1 round (24 oz.) sourdough, French or Italian bread, unsliced
1 pound assorted sliced deli meats and cheeses (turkey, ham, provolone

Thinly slice figs. Combine with remaining filling ingredients; set aside. Cutting horizontally, remove top third of loaf. Hollow out bottom portion of loaf, leaving a 1-inch shell. Pack filling into bottom of loaf, reserving about 3 tablespoons of liquid. Brush liquid on cut side of top. Layer sliced meats over filling. Replace top of bread loaf. Wrap in airtight plastic bag. Place loaf upside down in refrigerator. Weight with 5-pounds (e.g. bag of sugar) and refrigerate for 3 to 12 hours. To serve, turn upright and cut into wedges.

Healthy Tips and Counting

This year we’re highlighting one new lifestyle tip each month that you can incorporate into your day. By the end of the year, you’ll have 12 new ways to help you live a healthy, happy, active lifestyle.

Tip #1 for January—Vegetarian for a day…or two…or three

Tip #2 for February—Focus on fiber

Tip #3 for March—Be a breakfast believer

Tip #4 for April—Add a smart snack or mini-meal

Tip #5 for May–Get Moving

Tip #6 for June–Size Matters

Tip #7 for July–Reduce, Don’t Eliminate Your Favorite Food

May–Get Moving

Physical activity is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. In combination with healthy eating, it can help prevent a range of chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and stroke.

Take the first step. Start with walking! Check out the simple steps from the American Heart Association’s Get Moving: Easy Tips to Get Active, to boost your chances to succeed and stay on the road to better health. Here are a couple tips:

Go out for a short walk before breakfast, after dinner or both! Start with 5-10 minutes and work up to 30 minutes.

When walking, pick up the pace from leisurely to brisk. When watching TV, sit up instead of lying on the sofa. Or stretch. Throw away your video remote control. Instead of asking someone to bring you a drink, get up off the couch and get it yourself.

June–Size Matters

  • Healthy eating includes eating healthy amounts of foods—not too much, not too little.
  • If you’re trying to downsize to a healthier weight, try downsizing your plates and glasses; it really makes a difference in how much you feel you’re eating.
  • Try visually dividing your plate in half. Fill half with fruits and vegetables, ¼ with lean protein-rich foods and ¼ with whole grain foods.
  • When eating out, order a salad with the dressing on the side and split an entrée with a friend.
  • Eat slowly. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to signal you’re full.
  • Choose single-serving packages for snacks like Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice Snack Bags. Or, buy the bigger packages and portion out individual servings into smaller containers for eating later.

July–Reduce, Don’t Eliminate Your Favorite Foods

July is here and we’re half way through 2013. A healthy lifestyle brings positive change. Experts agree that the key to successful healthy eating is still the tried and true—variety, balance and moderation.  That means don’t eliminate your favorite foods, just eat less of them or eat them less often.

Some ideas include only eating your favorite foods when you go out and share them with a friend. Eat them slowly and be mindful of the taste, the texture and when you feel full. Look for healthier versions of the foods you love and choose those. Instead of eating a chocolate bar, how about three petite Mission Figlets dipped in dark chocolate. You win on all counts—fruit, flavor, sweet and fiber.

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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