Ever since the early days of my pregnancy, I have been excited to bring my love of healthy cooking to my new role as a parent. But before you click away – my plan is to introduce a series on foods that are great first foods for babies and kids. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t also great foods for YOU! My hope is to spotlight some things you might not be as familiar with, as well as offer new ideas and preparations for foods that you already love.
With all the summer hype about berries, melons, peaches, and plums – it’s easy to overlook one of summer’s best fruits: fresh figs! Typically in season from June to September, figs are soft and sweet and highly nutritious.
In addition to being delicious, figs are also a great source of the following (source):
- dietary fiber
- vitamin B6
When most people think of figs, they probably think of the Fig Newton. Dried figs are sugary sweet – almost like candy, and still hold many of the same nutritional properties. Dried figs are actually the #1 fruit source of calcium! (source)
But with such concentrated sugars, they needed to be eaten in more moderation. And while I’m not going to deny that those gooey cookies are irresistible, there are definitely other ways to enjoy this simple fruit. For adults, the options are endless:
- sliced and added to a salad
- diced and stirred into oatmeal
- roasted and drizzled with honey
- grilled and served over ice cream
- poached and made into chutney
When I spent the summer working on the farm, the farmers use to bring huge boxes of fresh figs in the kitchen each week. We couldn’t cook or eat them fast enough! Roasting figs for dessert was my favorite way to prepare them, but really, they are tasty just about any way you slice them.
For babies, it couldn’t be more simple.
Figs are the perfect soft consistency that, when ripe, they need almost zero prep before hitting the high chair. I just trim off the ends and peel the outer skin off, before roughly dicing up the soft flesh inside. It’s not totally necessary to remove the outer skin – it’s definitely edible – but the skin may be a little rough on those tiny digestive systems.
Figs tend to ripen and be ready almost immediately, and once they are ripe the window for eating them is very short. In order to minimize the prep, I go ahead and peel and dice all of them at once – saves me time on subsequent mornings. I add all the diced figs to a jar and store in the fridge – usually lasts for a few breakfasts. When perfectly ripe, the fruit is almost goopy it’s so soft.
If your little one isn’t into finger foods just yet, another option is to puree the figs and add to cereals or combine with other fruits. The natural sweetness is a hit for those developing palates, and is easy to prepare with no need for cooking or steaming.
As parents, I think we tend to err on the safe (and boring) side of what to offer our kids. My hope is to offer Cullen a good variety now, and hope that he grows up appreciating diversity in his diet. If you’re looking to break out of the rut of apples and bananas, I definitely suggest you give figs a try. They only negative? When eaten with slobbery fingers, they tend to be a bit of a MESS.
But for being so nutritionally rich and easy to prepare, I’d say the extra cleanup is well worth it.