16 September 2014

Carob Fig Superfood Smoothie

Fresh figs are one of my top three favorite fruits, so I had to laugh when I realized there are no fig recipes on the blog. I grew up eating them off of the tree in my grandmother's backyard, checking on the tree every so often for weeks in advance anticipating their ripening and hoping we'd get to them before the birds did. These plump deeply purple-brown jewels, when perfectly sun-ripened have a unique earthy, berry-citrus flavor and I love to eat them fresh, just as they are.

But I'm branching out today and decided the next best way to eat them is blended with carob in a late-summer smoothie. Surprisingly enough however, this has now moved up to my favorite way to eat figs because I feel like I can celebrate them in a special way while still enjoying them raw so as not to compromise their unique flavor.

Carob also flourishes in hot, dry climates so this is another example of following nature's cues by pairing foods that naturally grow up together. Carob is the newest member of my pantry community. It's great in raw desserts and smoothies when I want a hit of something rich and dark. Carob grows in pods on a tree and is ground into a powder resembling cocoa powder. It is often used in place of cocoa powder or cacao in baking, but it does not taste the same. It has a sweeter, more delicate flavor, and it does not contain the stimulating properties of chocolate, which I sometimes prefer. Here in particular the delicate, sweet flavor, together with a squeeze of orange compliments the fig nicely.

There is so much hype over superfoods like chia seeds, hemp seeds, goji berries, etc. that we overlook the powerful superfoods found in all of our markets: fruits and vegetables and accessible products like raw cacao and carob powder. Although I often enjoy chia and hemp seeds for the fantastic nutritional boost they provide, I choose not to talk about them much on the blog because I consider them to be a helpful supplement rather than essential for a healthy and whole diet. Carob and figs are just as much a superfood, and they are paired with chia and hemp seeds in this smoothie to give a super anti-inflammatory boost.

No matter what "diet" we subscribe to we should all be adding more anti-inflammatory foods to our daily meals, and the carob, fig, hemp, and chia seeds all play a role in fighting inflammation. In a few days I will be back with a post on anti-inflammatory foods and why they are so important. Until then, I hope you treat yourself to some fresh figs and enjoy them in this late-summer smoothie!

Carob Fig Superfood Smoothie
Serves 1 generously

1 cup (250 ml) water
2 Tbsp. hulled hemp seeds
2 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch salt
1 small, frozen banana (separate peeled banana into 2-3 pieces and freeze in plastic ziploc bag overnight)
2 fresh figs (+ 1 extra to top smoothie)
2 tsp. carob powder
Spoonful nut butter (I used hazelnut butter)
1 1/2 Tbsp. chia seeds
Squeeze of orange (~1/4 of a small orange)

Add water, hemp seeds, cinnamon and salt to a blender and blend for about one minute, or until you have a smooth hemp milk.* Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into a bowl, top with sliced fig, and enjoy!

*This is my secrete shortcut to replacing nut milk in a smoothie when I don't have any on hand. No straining nut pulp required! And if I know the smoothie will not be as sweet I'll also blend a date or two into the hemp milk.