It’s officially autumn. Daylight savings has ended, and the long balmy summer evenings along with it… sigh! The change of season is the perfect time to reassess your diet and skincare as we head into the cooler months.
Skin can often become ultra dry, flaky and dull as the temperatures drop and we are exposed to more extreme temperatures. Likewise, our healthy eating can go completely out the window during winter as we reach for those carb-laden, hearty comfort meals.
So we got in touch with Emily Hope – a NZ Registered Nutritionist (BSc, MSc Human Nutrition from the University of Otago) who now lives on her family fig orchard in Marlborough – to discuss her approach to nutrition and shed some light on the importance of maintaining a healthy, wholefoods diet year-round. She’s even shared a couple of her ahhh-mazing recipes featuring figs, the perfect ingredient for that winter hit of sweetness! Check out her guest blog below…
My nutrition degree ignited a love for food, cooking and health. However, time abroad living in a small village in Northern Italy brought my passion to life.
After living and working in both public health and corporate nutrition in Auckland, I moved home to the farm and fig orchard where I live with my husband and our Black Labrador Hank. During the fig season I divide my time between working in the family fig orchard picking and packing figs and cooking with them daily, and working at my nutrition business (Hope Nutrition) where I offer a full-range of nutrition services.
Food is to be enjoyed so it’s all about preparing and enjoying great tasting nutritious meals and snacks with those around you
My nutrition philosophy is a holistic approach to food and health. I encourage people to focus on choosing whole, fresh and natural foods as often as they can to provide a range of nutrients that nourish the mind and the body. I love providing inspiration and motivation to people who are looking for healthy and delicious ways to enjoy nutritious foods. After all, food is to be enjoyed so it’s all about preparing and enjoying great tasting nutritious meals and snacks with those around you.
The importance of nourishing yourself through the food that you eat has never been as topical as it is today. As a nutritionist, I’m a firm believer in a wholefoods approach to food and really focusing on feeding your body as many nutrients as possible. This way, there is a positive approach to food and wellness by focusing on those nutritious foods that you can eat each day, rather than focusing on foods which aren’t as nutritious. Our bodies work extremely hard for us day in and day out and wholefoods provide a range of necessary macronutrients, vitamins, minerals and fiber which help our bodies and our mind to perform optimally each and every day. These nutrients support healthy digestion, healthy blood, working muscles and our organs which are undertaking complex tasks every second of the day.
Our bodies work extremely hard for us day in and day out and wholefoods provide a range of necessary macronutrients, vitamins, minerals and fiber
On the other hand, processed and refined foods tend to be low in these much-needed nutrients while being high in unhealthy levels of fat, sugar and salt all of which can take away from our health and can lead to health-related conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and an increased risk of heart disease.
There is always a way to make your favourite foods healthy and delicious and one of the things I love most about nutrition is the cooking and eating aspect of it! It’s so important for people to be confident and knowledgeable in the kitchen so they can create scrumptious, wholesome meals. A simple tip is to fill your fridge and pantry with as many wholefoods as possible as this will make cooking and eating healthy meals much easier. Aim to stock up on foods such as lean meat, poultry, seafood, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and good quality fats like cheese, yoghurt, nuts, seeds, avocado and olive oil. If you have nutritious foods as your first port of call, you’re already over halfway there!
Fill your fridge and pantry with as many wholefoods as possible as this will make cooking and eating healthy meals much easier
Being surrounded by a bountiful fig orchard, I’m always inspired to eat and cook with fresh figs. Not only are they utterly delicious but they also highly nutritious. Figs are a wonderful source of fiber which helps to support a healthy digestive system and regular bowel movements to help eliminate waste from the body. Fresh figs provide valuable vitamins and minerals to support all of the chemical reactions that take place in our bodies every second of the day. Like other fruits and vegetables, fresh figs provide much-needed antioxidants which undertake the important job of mopping up free-radicals within the body to protect cells from damage which in turn supports a reduced risk of diet-related diseases.
Figs are truly a healthy foodie’s dream ingredient! They are delicately sweet and pair beautifully with many different foods in both sweet and savoury dishes. My favourite way to eat them is simply sliced on homemade muesli for breakfast with a dollop of Greek yoghurt and a sprinkling of cinnamon, or halved and smeared with butter and honey and grilled until golden for dessert. If you have a bit more time on your hands (but not much as these recipes are so simple!) and you’d like to impress family and friends with your fig-prowess, then make sure you try the two recipes below. They are both so highly delectable you’ll have people lining up at your door!
Wholesome Fig Crumble
Baked figs with a crunchy topping are totally scrumptious and this baked crumble is no exception. I’ve been known to make an entire crumble just so I can enjoy it for breakfast over the following days. This crumble is most delicious served warm for dessert with a dollop of Greek yoghurt, coconut cream or even some freshly whipped cream.
Just baked, it’s warming, wholesome and is the perfect way to enjoy the bounty of ripe fresh figs.
2 Tbspn coconut oil
12-14 figs – sliced into quarters
2 Tbspn honey
1 cinnamon stick
2 Tbspn coconut oil, melted
1 cup ground almonds
½ cup desiccated coconut
¼ cup raw sugar or brown sugar
1 cup homemade toasted muesli
- To make the figs, place the coconut oil into a medium-sized saucepan over a medium heat and let it melt. Next add the figs, honey and cinnamon stick and stir gently.
- Simmer the figs for about 10 minutes or until just soft. Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
- To make the crumble topping, place all of the ingredients into a bowl and stir together with a spoon or your hands until well combined.
- When the figs are ready, pour them into an oven-proof baking dish (remove the cinnamon stick) and top the figs with the crumble topping, ensuring the topping reaches the very edges and covers all of the figs.
- Bake the crumble until golden brown and crunchy, which will take about 20-30 minutes. Once cooked, remove from the oven.
- Spoon the warm crumble into serving bowls and enjoy with a dollop of Greek yoghurt, freshly whipped cream or a drizzle of coconut cream.
Fresh Figs with Goats Cheese and Maple Salted Walnuts
Maple Salted Walnuts
2 cups walnuts
2 Tbspns pure maple syrup
1 tsp Iodised coarse sea salt
- Pre-heat your oven to 180°C and line a flat baking tray with baking paper
- To a medium-sized bowl add the walnuts, maple syrup and salt
- Mix to combine and then pour the nut mixture onto the prepared tray.
- Roast the walnuts for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
- Once cooked, remove the walnuts from the oven and leave to cool
- Once cool, break up the walnuts and store in an airtight container
Fresh Figs with Goats Cheese
2-3 figs per person
A chunk of goats cheese per fig
1 Tbspn runny honey or pure maple syrup*
1 Tbspn balsamic vinegar*
2 Tbspn Olive Oil*
Freshly cracked black pepper
Coarse iodised sea salt
A handful of maple salted walnuts per person
*You may need more when serving larger numbers (i.e. 2-3 tablespoons of each)
- Pre-heat your oven to 180°C.
- Cut off the stem and then cut a cross in the top of each fig, carefully opening up each fig and placing a chunk of goat’s cheese in each.
- Place the figs in an oven–proof dish or on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
- Drizzle over the honey, balsamic vinegar and olive oil and season with the salt and pepper.
- Bake for ~10-15 minutes or until the figs are warm and the cheese is gooey
- Serve topped with an extra drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil and scatter over the maple salted walnuts.
If you’d love to incorporate the goodness of figs into your skincare regime too, our range of Fig Licorice bath and home products are perfect to keep your skin moisturised and bright during the winter months. This range has all of your bathroom needs covered, with a fragrance diffuser, bath bag, bath salts, lotion, crème wash, bubble bath, vegetable soap and room spray. With the sweet scent of fig combined with spicy undertones of licorice, this range of bath time products will moisturise, smooth and cleanse the skin to maintain your skin’s appearance when it gets chilly!