Eat more fiber. You’ve probably heard it before. But do you know why fiber is so good for your health?

Helps Control and Fight Disease

Because fiber clears unwanted material out of your colon, it helps reduce the risk of colon cancer. If this isn’t enough of a benefit, a high fiber diet has also been advocated for people with high cholesterol because it has been shown to lower overall cholesterol levels.

Keeps Your Blood Sugar Steady

Fiber slows the absorption of sugar into the body and reduces the insulin response, keeping our blood sugar at reasonable levels instead of bouncing it up and down throughout the day. High fiber foods are recommended for people with hypoglycemia and diabetes to help steady blood sugar levels.

Helps Control Hunger

In addition to making us store fat, our insulin response leaves us feeling drained, tired, and wanting another sugar pick me up. The more sugar we have, the lower our blood sugar drops, and the faster we get hungry again. Fiber is a great way to stop this cycle in its tracks. It keeps us feeling fuller longer so we end up eating less.

Selecting tasty foods that provide fiber isn’t difficult. Try these suggestions:

Add fiber to your diet slowly: Make the following changes over at least a few weeks.

Start with breakfast: Eat a cereal with 5 or more grams of fiber per serving.

Leave the skin on! Incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet will add fiber, but only if you eat the skin.

Try some split pea soup: Just one cup contains 16.3 grams of protein

 Add crushed bran cereal or unprocessed wheat bran to casseroles, salads, cooked vegetables, and baked products (meatloaf, breads, muffins, casseroles, cakes, cookies)

Eat whole grains: Whole grains are higher in fiber because they haven’t had the outer skin removed through processing.

Eat more beans:. Add them to soup or salads.

Eat more nuts: Peanuts and almonds are especially great sources of fiber.

Which Foods Have Fiber?  

Examples of foods that have fiber include:

Breads, cereals, and beans

  • 1/2 cup of navy beans 9.5 grams
  • 1/2 cup of kidney beans 8.2 grams
  • 1/2 cup of black beans 7.5 grams
  • 1/2 cup of All-Bran 9.6 grams
  • 3/4 cup of Total 2.4 grams
  • 3/4 cup of Post Bran Flakes 5.3 grams
  • 1 packet of whole-grain cereal, hot 3.0 grams (oatmeal, Wheatena)
  • 1 whole-wheat English muffin 4.4 grams

Fruits

  • 1 medium apple, with skin 3.3 grams
  • 1 medium pear, with skin 4.3 grams
  • 1/2 cup of raspberries 4.0 grams
  • 1/2 cup of stewed prunes 3.8 grams

Vegetables

  • 1/2 cup of winter squash 2.9 grams
  • 1 medium sweet potato with skin 4.8 grams
  • 1/2 cup of green peas 4.4 grams
  • 1 medium potato with skin 3.8 grams
  • 1/2 cup of mixed vegetables 4.0 grams
  • 1 cup of cauliflower 2.5 grams
  • 1/2 cup of spinach 3.5 grams
  • 1/2 cup of turnip greens 2.5 grams

Whole Grains

If switching from white rice to brown sounds like a bore, try one of these alternative whole grains:

Wild Rice

It has a nuttier taste and a firmer, chewier texture than white or brown rice. (It’s actually not a true rice—it’s technically a grass!)

Kasha

It’s also called roasted buckwheat groats. Coat it with a little raw egg or a bit of oil before cooking so the grains don’t fall apart. Try mixing it into ground turkey or lean beef instead of bread crumbs when making meatloaf.

Quinoa

Though it’s considered a whole grain, quinoa is actually a protein-rich seed that contains about twice as much protein as other grains. It’s also rich in essential minerals like iron and magnesium. Add sautéed onions or carrots to it for extra flavor and texture.

Bulgur

It’s loaded with fiber and cooks very quickly. People often combine it with lemon juice, mint, parsley, salt and pepper to make tabbouleh (a Middle Eastern grain salad).

Barley

Look for the “hulled” kind (check the label). It contains the same type of fiber found in oatmeal, so it can help lower cholesterol. Try it in stuffings or vegetable soup.

Whole Wheat Couscous

Couscous is a good base that takes on the flavor of your add-ins. Look for the whole-wheat variety (regular couscous is not whole-grain)

Fiber Rich Recipes

Grain-Filled Bell Peppers                                                                                                  

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2/3 cup brown basmati or brown jasmine rice
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup medium grind bulgur
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed well
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking barley
  • 1 1/4 cups grated Fontina cheese (about 5 ounces)
  • 6 bell peppers (yellow, orange, green and/or red)

Directions:

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and cook 3 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat with oil, 1 minute. Add salt, pepper, 2 cups chicken broth, water and tomato paste. Stir well to dissolve tomato paste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, 35 minutes.

Add bulgur, quinoa and barley and stir. Simmer, covered, until grains are tender and liquid is absorbed, 15 minutes. Let cool. Stir in cheese.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Slice 1⁄4 inch off the top of each pepper; reserve tops. Using the tip of a paring knife, remove seeds and membranes from peppers, leaving shells intact.

Fill peppers with grain mixture. Place in a deep baking dish close together. Place tops on peppers. Pour remaining chicken broth into bottom of dish. Cover loosely with foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until peppers are almost soft, 20 to 25 minutes.

Beef and Barley Stew                                                                                                                           

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds extra lean beef stew meat, trimmed of excess fat, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • 5 cups fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks*
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped roma (plum) tomatoes
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup medium barley
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Directions:

Season meat to taste with pepper and thoroughly coat with flour. In a 6-quart nonstick Dutch oven coated with nonstick cooking spray add olive oil and heat. Add meat and cook meat over medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes.

Add onion and garlic, sauteing for several more minutes. Add carrots, parsley, and thyme; saute for 3 to 5 minutes. Add broth and water and bring to a boil, scraping bottom of the pan.

Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms, and barley. Return to boiling; reduce heat and continue cooking, covered, over low heat for 30 to 45 minutes or until the meat and vegetables are tender. Add peas, stirring for one minute.

Kamut Pilaf with Cashews and Apricots                                                                                                                                      

Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Kamut, soaked 8 hours or overnight in cold water to cover
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, toasted and chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced dried apricots

Directions:

Drain Kamut and place in a medium saucepan with broth, onion, bay leaf and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat; stir well, cover, and lower heat until the mixture just simmers. Cook until Kamut is fairly tender, about 1 hour. Discard bay leaf and add cashews and apricots. Remove the pan from the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Toss with a fork and serve hot or room temperature.

Farro with Sausage and Mushrooms

Serves 6

 Ingredients:

  • 1 cup farro
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1/2 pound button mushrooms,cut into small pieces
  • 1-pound Italian pork or turkey sausage, casings removed and meat crumbled
  • 2 1/2 cups low sodium tomato juice
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • Fine sea salt to taste

 Directions:

Place the farro in a 2-quart saucepan and cover with the water. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In the same saucepan heat the olive oil over medium heat and cook the onion until lightly brown. Stir in the mushrooms and cook until they soften. Stir in the sausage and cook it until it loses its pink color.

Return the farro to the pot and stir to combine well.

In separate bowl, combine the tomato juice, tomato paste and red wine. Pour the ingredients into the pot and stir the ingredients well.

Cover the pot, lower the heat to medium low and cook about 20 minutes, or just until the liquid is almost absorbed and the farro is cooked through but still chewy.

Stir in the cheese and salt to taste and serve hot in soup bowls.

Pass extra cheese on the side to sprinkle on top.

 

Whole-Wheat Nut and Fruit Biscotti                                            

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup walnut halves or sliced almonds or other nuts
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit, such as cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips, optional
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cover two baking sheets with parchment; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; stir in nuts, chips and dried fruit. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and vanilla. Add to flour mixture; stir just until combined.

On a lightly floured surface, with floured hands, divide dough in half and pat one part of dough into a log about 1 inch thick, 2 1/2 inches wide (and about 7 inches long); transfer to one baking sheet. Repeat with second half. Bake until risen and firm, 20 to 25 minutes; cool completely on  baking sheets. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Place logs on a cutting board, and using a serrated knife, cut diagonally into 1/4 inch-thick slices; place slices in a single layer on baking sheets. Bake, turning once after 15 minutes, until dried and slightly golden,  30 minutes; cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 month.

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