It’s Fig Season

How to select and buy figs?
•Ripe figs are soft in hand, have sweet aroma and rich in color.
•Fig have a short life time thus it’s best to eat them while still fresh, if not they can be placed in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
•Always avoid overly soft or bruised fruits with broken skin.
•Figs do not ripe after harvesting thus always prevent buying unripe fruits.

Types of Figs? Which is better? Which is Sweeter?
•There are mainly 2 types of figs, the black and the white.
•The white is usually sweet having a harder skin in comparison to the black that is sour in taste with softer skin. That’s why white figs are preferred in cooking such as in jams, jellies and side dishes.

Are they bad for Diabetes?
•Fresh figs are rich in fibers and simple sugars; thus diabetic patients are allowed to have them in replacement with other fruits or snacks.
•1 exchange of figs is around 2-3 figs. For example, a diabetic patient can replace a medium sized apple with 2 to 3 figs as a max.
•Dried or semi-dried figs contain higher amounts of simple sugars than fresh figs thus, raise blood sugar levels very quickly.
•Some research studies show that figs contain chlorogenic acid. Chlorogenic acid helps in lowering blood sugar levels and control blood glucose levels in diabetic patients. Yet, more research is still needed.

How much can we eat per day?
•1 fruit exchange of figs = 2-3 figs, thus it depends on individual daily intake allowance.

What are the nutritional health benefits of Figs?
•Figs are excellent source of dietary fibers, minerals (Calcium, Iron and Potassium), vitamins (B-vitamins) and anti-oxidants.
•100 g figs provide around 80 calories where as dried figs provide around 250 calories.
•Have positive effects on cancers, diabetes, hypertension, degenerative diseases and infections.

Caution:
Fig leaves and un-ripened fruit produce white liquid than cause burning to the skin and the eyes; can also induce allergic reactions.


Are you in a Rush? Surprised with some Guests? It’s Fig Season!!
Here is a simple, quick and easy serving example; that you can prepare in 15 minutes.

Ingredients:
-Cream Cheese
-Figs Jam
-Baguette Bread slices (or pain au lait)
-Walnuts


Preparation Method:
Mix 75:25 ratio of Cream Cheese to Figs jam. Mix until you get a smooth creamy texture.
Place some on a baguette bread slice and decorate with walnuts.
Serve as an appetizer or a pass around starter.

Passiflora edulis

It’s a vine type tree that produce egg shaped purple or yellow fruits. The passion fruit mainly grows in warm areas, it’s found in countries such as Brazil, Colombia, , Indonesia, Peru, Hawaii, Mexico etc.

The passion fruit pictures you’ll be seeing below are taken in my own garden, Mount Lebanon, Lebanon. My tree usually blossoms end of June to mid July, after which egg shaped green eggs begin to show, end of July throughout August the green unripe fruit change in color to become purple in color, when the outer layer of the fruit gets wrinkled the fruit drops by itself out from it mother tree on to the floor. Then the fruits are collected from beneath the tree, cleaned, and cooled for consumption.

The fruit is usually cut through its middle (cross section) and the inner part is eaten by a spoon. The inner part is collected and used to make cake toppings, jams, syrups, juices, ice cream, mousses, cocktails, flavored cheese cakes, tarts, flavored yoghurt etc…

Health Benefits/ Nutritional Facts

It is a good source of fibers that are essential to the digestive system, colon etc. It’s also rich in antioxidants (prevent lipid oxidation within the body, thus help improve the body’s lipid profile, and are also associated with decreasing risks of cancer)

The passion fruit is rich in Vitamin A (helps the body to remove free radicals that cause skin and tissue damage, and it helps to improve vision) and Vitamin C (helps to repair tissue, helps prevent heart disease and cancer).

3 to 4 passion fruits make 1 fruit exchange that is around 60-70kcal.

EGGPLANT… Does it contain High Concentrations of NICOTINE?

Eggplant, also known as Aubergine, is a vegetable found in several shapes, sizes and colors. It’s widely used in cooking: baked, stewed, roasted, stuffed or fried.

For example, it’s used to make (in the Lebanese Cuisine):
-Baba Ghannouj: roasted eggplant w tahina
-Shaykhil Mihshee: fried eggplant stuffed with minced meat and tomato
-Mousakaa: vegetarian style, fried eggplant with chickpeas and tomato sauce
-Makdous. stuffed eggplant pickles with walnuts and red pepper

Eggplant is a good source of dietary fiber, B vitamins, potassium, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, niacin, and folic acid. It’s rich in antioxidants and free-radical scavengers thus help in decreasing cholesterol. It’s also good for diabetic patients where it helps the absorption of glucose into the body and lowers blood pressure.

As for the Nicotine content; yes eggplant does contain nicotine. Yet, the amount of nicotine within the eggplant is NEGLIGIBLE (0.01 mg nicotine per 100g eggplant). That means to have an adverse health effect from the nicotine in the eggplant one needs to consume more than 10 to 12 large eggplants (more than a kilogram) every single day, which in normal cases does not happen.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine 100g of eggplant contains 0.01mg of nicotine thus, 10kg of eggplant is equivalent to 1 cigarette, therefore eggplant nicotine no negative effect.

In conclusion, always remember the dose makes the poison. Everything we eat can be transformed into a remedy or changed into a toxic substance depending on exposure, thus everything should be consumed in moderation, within the acceptable daily intake levels.

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199308053290619

Artichoke Overview and Health Benefits

Overview

Artichoke is the unopened flower of a Thistle (a flowering plant characterized by leaves of sharp tips).
Artichoke is well known in the Mediterranean region.
In Lebanon, it is widely served as a cold “mezza” (Lebanese cold appetizers) with Lemon, garlic, and olive oil dressing. The Artichoke hearts can be processed into pickles, or cooked (Meat and Artichoke Stew or with white sauce or with tahina: sesame paste).

Health Benefits

– Reduces bad cholesterol (LDL Cholesterol)
– Contains “inulin” a carbohydrate that stabilizes blood sugar levels in diabetic patients
– Improves liver functioning
– Relief Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms
– Helps improve digestive problem such as dyspepsia and helps the digestion process
– Reduce risk of cancer (ex. Breast cancer)

How?

Artichoke is an excellent source of dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C, folic acid, vitamin A, potassium, and manganese. Moreover, it contains compounds that help the flow of bile from the gallbladder (bile is essential for cholesterol regulation, liver and digestive functioning).

Open Sesame…

Sesame is a flowering plant… its seeds are rich in oil. The seeds are further processes to give sesame oil or stone grinded to give sesame paste know as Tahini…

Seeds, oils or pastes are greatly used in cooking… especially in the Lebanese cuisine…Seeds usually sprinkled on breads and pastries, while oils and tahini are usually used in appetizers such as the “Hommos” or in dishes such as the “Kebbe Karnabiyeh”…

Nutritional Benefits:

Sesame is rich in minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium…) and in vitamin E, thiamin, healthy proteins and dietary fibers. It contains some phyto-nutrients such as omega-6 fatty acids and flavonoid anti-oxidants and it’s also a rich source of poly-unsaturated fatty acids…

Sesame helps prevent high blood pressure, protect the liver from oxidative damage
(sesamin and sesamolin) and helps strengthen the heart and the nervous system (Vitamin E).

1 tablespoon of sesame (~10g) = 52 Calories.

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