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Parties, family gatherings, and travel make the holiday season special.  However, these events also present opportunities for stress and overeating, which can lead to an accumulation of toxins that weigh us down mentally and physically.  

According to traditional Chinese medicine, common signs of toxin buildup include constipation, poor digestion, and a heavy feeling in the body. Emotional toxicity may present as irritability, insecurity, and poor concentration.  

Many common foods are thought to prevent and alleviate these symptoms.  Some of the most powerful anti-toxin foods include lemons, bananas, sweet potatoes, tofu, Swiss chard, radishes, and turnips.

Figs are also detoxifiers. They are said to moisten and clean the large intestine and balance a diet of rich foods. The following recipe for fig-sesame jam is mildly sweet and versatile. For breakfast, spread it on whole-grain toast or mix it with plain yogurt. For lunch or dinner, pair it with manchego cheese or try it as an unusual yet delicious accompaniment to pork.

Fig-Sesame Jam
Recipe adapted from Gourmet Magazine, August 2001

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
2 lb firm-ripe fresh figs, trimmed and quartered
2 (3- by 1-inch) strips fresh lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted

Instructions:

Simmer sugar and water in a heavy saucepan; stir until sugar is dissolved. Gently stir in figs, zest, and lemon juice. Simmer, uncovered, until thick and syrupy, 1 3/4 to 2 hours. Gently add toasted sesame seeds.

Elizabeth Lynch is a Chicago-based photographer and writer who focuses on food, cooking, and health.

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