Editor's Note: Diane Kochilas, author of Ikaria, is sharing a series of longevity tips popular on the Greek island "where people forget to die."
On Ikaria, the island of longevity, where people "forget to die", figs play an important part in the local diet. They are one of nature's late-summer, nutrition-packed gifts and, dried, are an important food in winter.
For a few short weeks, we enjoy them fresh. One of my greatest childhood pleasures was to scurry about my Aunt Mary's garden, twisting off figs straight from the tree. She used to berate me for not peeling them, but to me they were delicious skin and all—and still are. (Try growing your own fig tree!)
Dried figs are equally, if not more, significant in the local diet, a staple food that people prepared in the summer and consumed in the winter. Figs are rich in dietary fiber, vitamin B6, and minerals such as potassium, copper, and manganese. They are one of the world's healthiest foods, and I dare say, its healthiest sweet!
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On Ikaria, dried figs are sprinkled with antioxidant-rich oregano when stored, which has a dual purpose: to stave off bugs and to add an extra layer of flavor and nutrition to this already delicious, totally natural food. (An added bonus? Figs contain natural pain-relieving compounds.)
Published on: August 19, 2014