The Season is FIGS!

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Glorious Figs
The parable of the fig tree exists throughout the bible and in other spiritual and fictional works. In Matthew 24:32 it tells us “its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near.” Many references of the fig and fig tree are translated over and over and symbolizing many things for many people.

“Figs have a short season in early summer and a main season from late summer until fall. The first crop of the season is called the breba crop, which comes in on the last season’s growth. Spring frost often eradicates the breba crop and the remaining previous season’s growth.

FarmersMktFigsSign      FigBasketClose

The majority of figs produced arise from the main crop, which are generally not subject to frosty conditions. The sweetest types of figs are Black Mission figs and Adriatic figs, which are commonly used in desserts and paired alongside cheese and fresh fruit. Kadota figs and Brown Turkey figs are not as sweet and are usually used in salads or in recipes that include sweeteners.”

Reference as it may, controversy often prevails over figs…. which tastes better, what to do with the first crop if there is one, and how best to use them. People seem to like them or not, not much in between. Black Mission and Brown Turkey figs seem to be the most common at most markets, but a wide range of figs—including striped Adriatic figs and pale green Kadota figs—is increasingly available fresh. While there are subtle differences in flavor and sweetness level, figs do more or less taste like figs, so there’s no reason to be wary of trying a new variety.

Many people are unaware of this culinary delicacy due to its rarety on the grocery aisle.  Black Mission and Brown Turkey figs seem to be the most common at most markets, but a wide range of figs—including striped Adriatic figs and pale green Kadota figs—is increasingly available fresh. While there are subtle differences in flavor and sweetness level, figs do more or less taste like figs, so there’s no reason to be wary of trying a new variety.

Figs are members of the Mulberry family and provide an excellent source of fiber, vitamin B6, copper, manganese, potassium and pantothenic acid. A low intake of potassium-rich foods, especially couple with a high intake of sodium-rich foods (such as processed or fast food), can lead to high blood pressure. Like other fiber-rich foods (apples, dates, pears and prunes), figs are helpful in a weight management program. Each fig has a calorie count of 47, outweighed by its other benefits, which extend to the fig leaf! High in antioxidants, choose fully ripened figs. Dark figs are high in phytonutrients.

Figs are delicate, perishable, hard to transport and available only part of the year: June-through September. Organic dried figs are available year-round, need to be relatively soft, free of mold and have a pleasant smell, and can be substituted in any recipe calling for figs, dates, raisins, and other dried fruits.

Ripe figs should be covered, layered with paper towels to keep them super dry, and used promptly to avoid mold.

USEFUL IDEAS FOR FRESH OR DRIED (Rehydrated) FIGS

Lay whole figs in a single layer on a baking sheet, then freeze in zipper bags up to a year.
Peeling is not necessary, and go well in any baked cake, muffin, cookie, jam chutneys.
Wash right before eating. Keep chilled in refrigerator.
Use as any fresh fruit, with breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Especially sweet due to sugar content – add to any dessert dish, or even meat sauces.
Add sugar, rum or brandy to mashed figs and serve with vanilla ice cream.
Add instant pizzazz to morning cereal with chopped figs and honey.
Skewer figs and alternate with chicken or pork on the grill.
Carmelize onions and mix with figs into any salad mix, pizza, or pasta.
Wrap with prosciutto for a classy hors d’oeuvre.
Spread halves with goat cheese or mascarpone and crown your primavera recipe.

For more super-easy yet utterly delicious ways to make tasty use of fresh figs, see 10 Quick Fig Recipes (these honey-fried figs  are a personal favorite, while these bacon-wrapped figs tend to disappear in an instant at a party).  See next blog article: Glorious Fig Recipes.

Whole Grain Breakfast

Whole Grains w:nuts:berries:grapes

Truly substantial!  Lunch may be forgotten ’til the dinner bell rings!

Ingredients

½ c Bob’s Red Mill Ancient Grain Medley

1 C bone broth or water

1 T EACH Cinnamon and Brown Sugar

pinch salt

½ c EACH strawberries, blueberries, grapes

¼ c mixed chopped nuts

Directions

Cook grains according to package instructions

in broth or water, adding spice and sugar towards end

Allow to cool slightly before plating.

Layer berries in bottom of serving dish.

Top with cereal, nuts and grapes to garnish.

Serve with nut milk or yogurt.

 

Organic Braised Greens

Organic BRAISED GREENS
with Organic Beans, Whole Grains and Uncured Sausage, Serves 4-6

There’s nothing like an unexpected blustery evening with this warming mix of healthy foods. Braising greens brought home from the farmers market cook right up into a hearty taste treat for dinner! Read more….below.

Ingredients
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 leek, small (or shallot/red onion), chopped fine
2-4 strips of cooked uncured bacon, chopped
a colander full of snipped or cut braising greens (baby cabbage, mustard greens, bok choy, chard, radish leaves, etc.)
2-4 T EACH extra virgin olive oil and BRAGG’S LIQUID AMINOS*
Uncured, organic, fully cooked sausage (optional), cut into coins (Teton Waters Beef Thuringer is 100% grass-fed Beef)
Whole Grain organic packet (Seeds of Change makes one to simply heat)
Organic 15 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 oz Lindcove Ranch Candied Blood Orange Peel, or similar homemade variety, chopped, then minced.

In large skillet, drizzle olive oil and sauté garlic quickly, about one minute.

 Add onion, bacon and sauté two minutes.

Add your mountain of chopped greens, one handful at a time, stirring continually.
Add more olive oil, a drizzle of lemon juice and liquid aminos about half way through.

 When greens have wilted completely, push to side of pan and add sausage. Let brown.
Add packet of whole grains, then the beans, cover to let steam, 2 minutes.

 Mix greens together with other ingredients in the pan.
Stir in finely minced candied orange peel and…

.you’re ready to serve!

 Seem too involved? This recipe incorporates many of the organic foods we have adopted. It’s amazing, once you start thinking All Organic, how you find products with
no hormones, no antibiotics, no feedlot, made without chemical additives, additives and
really toxic preservatives like nitrites and nitrates. Farmers Markets are a good bet, but
supermarkets are picking up on the increase in consumer demand for Healthy Please, too. The candied blood orange peel I found at a farmers market was a boon! All the ones I’ve seen in supermarkets are not chemical free. Adding whole grains not only reduces the sugar spike in traditional carbohydrates, they provide healthy digestion, vitamins, minerals and immunity factors your body will enjoy.

Take this a step further, and make it a soup by adding homemade bone-broth or other stock.

*Bragg’s Liquid Aminos is an all-purpose seasoning from Soy Protein, a natural soy sauce alternative with less sodium, no preservatives, Non-GMO.

The Best, Last, Ultimate Recipe for Hard Boiled Eggs

Here’s a foolproof method for perfect hard boiled eggs. It’s the only recipe you’ll need.

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THE BEST, LAST, ULTIMATE RECIPE FOR HARD BOILED EGGS

Place 2 inches of water in a medium saucepan with a steamer basket.
Place eggs in steamer basket and bring to boil with lid. Lower heat to simmer.
Steam for 13 minutes.
Remove eggs with slotted spoon to ice water bath for 10-15 minutes.
Refrigerate eggs for future use, or crack shell all around and see how easy they are to
peel.

Hard boiled eggs make for an easy, healthy snack. Enjoy.

Image source: Pixabay

Whole Grain Berry Good “Rice” Pudding


Here’s another way to get your whole grains. Delicious in the morning or during any part of your day. This one is made with a whole grain medley from Bob’s Red Mill called “Grains of Discovery.”

Whole Grain Berry Good “Rice” Pudding


Serves 4-6

1 cup Whole Grain Medley* (Bob’s Red Mill “Grains of Discovery”)
3 cups whole milk, almond or coconut milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4  cup cane sugar

1/4  cup date sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp. cardamom

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Zest from one (1) lemon

1-2 cups strawberries (chopped) or blueberries
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped (optional)

  1. Add grains, milk, salt, sugar and spices to a medium pot; stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or more until most of the liquid has absorbed and grains are tender, stirring occasionally.

  2. Remove from heat and stir in berries, vanilla, lemon zest and nuts, if using. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*Your own mix of grains can be substituted, e.g. quinoa, brown rice, whole grain oats, barley, buckwheat, etc.

Enjoy!

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One More Time with Asparagus

From “TRAVEL TIPS from SeeCalifornia.com” comes this Festival Feature in Fresno, April 15-17:

San Joaquin County grows the most asparagus of any place in the U.S.
Top 3 California Asparagus Counties:

San Joaquin 42.2% | Fresno 28.6%  | Monterey 27.4%

  • Asparagus is planted in the ground three years before it can be harvested for the full season; the plant grows for 15 to 20 years.
  • Short growing season February – June
  • Watch it grow! Can grow 7″ in a day when the temperatures reach 90 degrees.
  • #66 California farm commodity

Fried Asparagus with Dipping Sauce

Breaded asparagus is fried in coconut oil then served with a healthy chili ranch dipping sauce.

  • 12 asparagus spears
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour, seasoned
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups fresh bread crumbs, seasoned
  • use half panko crumbs, if desired
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil for frying, or as needed
  • 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • ¼-½ cup almond milk
  • 2-4 T mayonnaise
  • 1 4-oz can chopped green chili peppers
  • dashes hot pepper sauce (such as Siracha), or to taste
  • 2 T Seasoning Mix (2-4 tsp. EACH onion flakes, parsley leaves, basil, dill, garlic powder, onion powder, garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper)
  1. Dampen asparagus lightly with water. Coat with flour; trying to avoid coating the tips.
  2. Dip asparagus in beaten egg.
  3. Roll and coat asparagus in a layer of breadcrumbs.
  4. Place coated asparagus on a plate and refrigerate, allowing coating to stick, 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Stir mayonnaise, milk, yogurt, green chilies, seasoning mix and hot pepper sauce together in a small bowl for dipping sauce.
  6. Heat coconut oil in a fry pan over medium heat.
  7. Fry coated asparagus in the hot oil until golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Serve immediately with dipping sauce.

Celebrate Spring with Asparagus

ASPARAGUS! The spring veggie loved by many, or few?

We Italians love them every which way, especially found wild and wrapped up in some farm fresh eggs as a frittata. You can roast them, sauté them, put them in a pie, use in a cheese fondue. I’ve found them on a pizza, in a salad, wrapped in prosciutto, speared through a hot dog or sausage and toasted on the grill. If you want to really appreciate asparagus wild, take a look at Anne Robichaud’s article from Italian Notebook.

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Asparagus with Quinoa

Saute two sliced shallots in 1 T each butter and olive oil until softened. Add a bunch of asparagus sliced on the diagonal and season as desired. Cook on lowered heat, covered, until softened, but still firm to the bite.

To serve, portion over cooked quinoa with a squeeze of lemon. Drizzle with bacon bits, or Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Asparagus and Spinach Frittata*

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Ingredients:
1 lb each spinach and fresh asparagus, washed, drained, tough ends discarded
8 eggs
3 T whipping cream or water
s/p to taste
¼ c Parmesan or Romano cheese
4 T olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced

Cut asparagus into 1-inch lengths, cook in boiling, salted water until tender to pierce, about 3 minutes. Drain, immerse in cold water and drain again. Cook spinach in a covered pan until wilted, stirring. Drain, cool, coarsely chop. Set aside.

Beat eggs, cream, salt and pepper, cheese. Set aside.

In a large on-stick skillet, place olive oil, and garlic cloves over medium heat until just beginning to brown, do not scorch! Add spinach and asparagus, and sauté 2 minutes. Pour egg mixture over asparagus and cook until eggs begin to set. Sprinkle with cheese and reduce heat to medium-low. When almost set, place skillet under broiler until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Let frittata stand 4 minutes before loosening, and sliding onto a plate.

*Optional ingredients

  1. Omit spinach, add 1 seeded, diced tomato and Fontina cheese instead of Parmesan.
  2. Use spring onions in addition to or instead of garlic, and Gruyere or Swiss cheese.
  3. Cut unpeeled red potatoes 1/8” thick and sauté w/green onions 6-8 minutes, covered, then uncover, brown well another 7-8 minutes. Add to asparagus/egg mixture.

Lemon Blackberry Pie

Here is a delicious recipe for Lemon Blackberry Pie made with fresh blackberries and lemon cookies. It’s sure to satisfy any sweet tooth.  Continue reading “Lemon Blackberry Pie”

Whole Grains Means Brown Rice Pasta, Too!

Whole grains mean brown rice pasta, too!

If you want a lighter version than a grain pilaf for example, try these recipes using rice pasta. It comes in all styles: fettucine, spaghetti, spirals, elbows, fusilli, shells, and penne! This pasta adds 4g protein per 2 oz serving and 3g fiber. Continue reading “Whole Grains Means Brown Rice Pasta, Too!”

Brown Rice Pasta and Shrimp Entree

Made quick and healthy with whole grain rice, and fresh veggies cooked all together. Make it tasty with a toss of basil/garlic pesto, lemon and evoo. Add a few options of your own, like cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, olives or homemade croutons. A bit extra makes lunch next day! Continue reading “Brown Rice Pasta and Shrimp Entree”