gluten-free fig newton recipe
Fig newtons have been one of my go-to running fuels for years. Let’s be real, a runner can only choke down so many gels and gummy chomps before making a mid-run pit stop at a Chipotle becomes a necessity. Okay, so maybe in my wildest running dreams could I chow down on a burrito mid-run and not puke, but I have found that munching on fig newtons gets me over the need-for-food hump.
Figs are a smart fuel choice for runners because of their concentration of vitamins and minerals.
POTASSIUM: I mentioned some of the benefits of potassium in this smoothie recipe, but as a reminder, it help our bodies maintain a balanced electrolyte level. Potassium also helps the brain function and enhances muscle control and contraction. Eating a fig (or a banana) while in the middle of a cramp won’t make it go away, but you can help prevent them by maintaining proper electrolyte levels.
IRON is used by our bodies to create hemoglobin, the protein in our blood that carries oxygen. Maintaining proper levels of iron allows our bodies to perform at peak levels. Female athletes are more at risk for iron deficiency because of the blood we lose each month through menstruation. Ever wonder why your same running routes at certain times in the month feel like more of a push? Your iron levels could be to blame.
FIBER: While that word might make some people cringe, know that fiber is a good thing. Just half a cup of dried figs has 7.3 grams of fiber. Some of the fiber in figs is soluble (helps slow digestion so you feel fuller longer), and the other is insoluble (helps improve bowel function). And for that, we say thank you to figs!
CALCIUM: If you’re consuming a non-dairy diet and struggling to get enough calcium, turn to figs! Eating a small handful each day puts you well on your way to achieving the daily recommended intake.
After years of eating store-bought fig newtons, I finally looked at the ingredients. Yikes! I’m actually shocked that figs are still listed as the main ingredient. I also wondered what it would take to create a homemade version that was fairly simple, included unpronounceable ingredients, and had no preservatives. Considering I’ve been wrestling my husband for the last cookie in the batch, I think I’ve come up with a winning recipe. These fig newtons are not only gluten-free, but I’m totally in love with the added zip of orange zest. Knowing exactly what ingredients are going into these makes me that much more excited about trusting them to my stomach on the run.
Let’s get started! Making the dough is fairly straight forward — combine the dry and wet ingredients separately and then stir them together. Once that is complete, wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for an hour. Don’t worry if the dough feels a little too moist and sticky, the fridge time will help even that out. About 15 minutes before the dough is ready to come out of the fridge, pre-heat the oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Then follow the directions to get the fig filling prepped in the food processor.
Next is the fun, hands-on part! Start by getting the dough out of the fridge, unwrapping it, and placing it on a piece of parchment paper. Next, cover the dough with a top sheet of parchment paper and begin rolling the dough into a large circle/rectangle figure no more than 1/4″ thick. Make sure the length of the rolled dough will fit on the baking sheet. A little parchment paper trick: I like to use one big sheet and fold half of the paper over as my top layer.
Once rolled out, carefully lift the top parchment paper off the dough. Spread the fig filling on half of the dough, leaving about 1/2″ from the sides with no filling. Now we need to fold the non-fig side on to the fig side. Don’t try to pull the dough from the parchment paper; simply pick up a corner of the parchment paper and fold it carefully over the half with the fig spread. Push down lightly across the surface. Carefully pull back the top parchment paper layer, leaving the top dough layer folded over. See below for reference.
Now might seem like the perfect time to cut your dough into squares. Wait, stop, don’t do it! I’ve found that this dough is a little too sticky to cut. I’ve tried it and epic recipe failures have occurred. We’re going to bake this as one giant cookie FIRST, let it cool, and then cut it into squares. That’s my recommendation.
The last step is transferring the dough to your baking sheet parchment paper. Easy peasy. Take the parchment paper from your baking sheet, lay it on top of your prepared big cookie, and gently flip the entire cookie over so what was once the bottom of the cookie is now the top.
Place the unbaked cookie on the baking sheet, and bake for 20-23 minutes or until golden brown in color. Allow to cool on the pan for at least 15 minutes before cutting. Traditionally fig newtons are little squares, but get creative with it… or just eat it as one ginormous cookie. That’s cool too. Same great taste, with a little more character. Want to take your fig newton experience over the top? Try it with a side of homemade coconut milk.
Enjoy this fresh batch of homemade gluten-free fig newtons on the run or off, but get them while you can — they won’t last long!