October 2014 Fig Focus

Happy Halloween!

Holidays occur throughout the year, but which ones do we look forward to the most? When asked what their favorite holiday is, Americans’ top three choices are Christmas, Thanksgiving and Halloween, in that order.

Pumpkin carving is a popular Halloween tradition. Ever wonder if that pumpkin is edible? Eating your jack-o’-lantern isn’t a good idea. However, certain varieties of pumpkins are great for eating and packed with nutrients—just like figs. Look for the smaller varieties of pumpkins. They have dense flesh and a smooth texture. “Cooking” pumpkins like, Small Sugar Pumpkins, weigh around 4 -8 pounds.

Want something healthy to hand out at Halloween? Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice Mission Fig Snack Bags are the perfect sweet, natural treat.

Sherry-Braised Squash (or Pumpkin) with Figs and Rosemary

2 ¾ to 3 pounds winter squash or cooking pumpkin

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup chopped yellow onion

1 cup Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Figs, stemmed and halved or quartered

1/2 cup dry sherry or orange juice

1/2 cup chicken broth

4 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 1/2 teaspoons crumbled dry rosemary)

1/4 teaspoon salt

Chopped fresh parsley

Peel squash or pumpkin and cut into 3/4- to 1-inch chunks to measure 4 cups. Heat butter in large skillet or saucepan with tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is golden. Add squash, figs, sherry, broth, rosemary and salt. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes or until tender. If liquid remains, remove figs and other solids with slotted spoon to serving bowl; simmer uncovered until liquid is reduced to 3 to 4 tablespoons. Pour liquid over squash mixture. Serve warm, garnished with parsley. Makes about 4 cups (6 servings).

Pork Medallions With Honey-Glazed Figs and Apples

2 tart green apples

1 cup Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Figs

1 pound pork tenderloin

Thyme Seasoning, recipe follows

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup white wine or water

3 tablespoons honey

Parsley or fresh thyme for garnish

Peel and core apples; cut each into 16 wedges. Halve figs. Cut tenderloin into 3⁄4 inch thick slices; rub with Thyme Seasoning. Heat oil over medium-high heat; add pork and cook 2 minutes on each side. Reduce heat and cook until firm, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove and keep warm. Stir apples, figs and wine into pan. Simmer until liquid evaporates, about 8 minutes. Add honey; stir until apples are tender and glazed, about 2 minutes. Pour fig mixture over pork and garnish with parsley or thyme. Makes 4 servings.

Thyme Seasoning: Stir together 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 3/4 teaspoons thyme leaves, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon ground black pepper.

“Try ‘Em, You’ll Like ‘Em” Healthy Lifestyle Tips

So far you’ve taken to heart the Super Three, Gone Fishing, picked up some tips on drinking more water, learned to listen, and washed up. Last month, you improved your balance. The focus for October is on healthy digestion.

Eating plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables containing dietary fiber will help keep your digestive system healthy. Everyone has digestive problems from time to time. Many digestive problems can be eased with simple changes in your diet.

Dietary fiber, along with drinking plenty of water, helps keep food moving through your digestive tract, reducing the incidence of constipation. Eating a healthy amount of fiber also helps reduce the risk of diverticulosis, hemorrhoids and irritable bowel syndrome.

California Dried Figs offer a tasty 5 grams of fiber, including soluble and insoluble, in a serving of just 3 to 5 figs.  Keep a bag of figs handy, and enjoy a handful every day. Figs add fiber to recipes, too. Find some great tips on fiber and some delicious fiber-rich recipes at valleyfig.com.

Keep Your Digestive System Healthy

• Maintain a healthy weight.

• Eat a balanced diet, including a healthy amount of dietary fiber.

• Get regular physical activity.

• Learn how to reduce stress.

• Stop smoking.

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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