Fiber-Packed Recipes for a Healthier You
Fiber isn’t just a digestive helper; it’s a nutritional powerhouse with benefits ranging from weight management to hormonal regulation. Discover over a dozen delectable ways to boost your fiber intake and enhance your overall well-being.
In discussions about the American diet, there’s often a focus on excess sugar, saturated fats, and ultra-processed foods. However, one vital nutrient that frequently goes unnoticed is fiber. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has raised concerns about consistently low fiber intake, particularly among non-Hispanic Black Americans. On average, Americans only consume slightly over 16 grams (g) of fiber daily, which is just over half (58 percent) of the recommended 28 g. This deficit in fiber intake is especially worrisome given the extensive research highlighting its pivotal role in various aspects of health and the prevention of chronic diseases. While fiber was once primarily associated with promoting healthy digestion, recent studies have revealed its potential contributions to weight management, blood sugar regulation, cholesterol control, heart health, and a reduced risk of specific cancers.
Fiber also appears to influence hormone regulation, particularly estrogen levels, making it indispensable for women’s health. Fiber binds to excess estrogen, aiding its elimination from the body and supporting the balanced regulation of female hormones, as described in an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. But how does fiber achieve these remarkable effects?
Essentially, it’s the component of plant-based foods that the body cannot fully digest, as explained by the National Academy of Medicine. However, because it occupies space in the digestive tract, fiber promotes satiety without contributing calories.
Moreover, it serves as a natural gastrointestinal cleanser by absorbing undesirable substances like harmful bacteria, excess cholesterol, and surplus hormones, subsequently flushing them out of the system. There are two primary types of fiber: soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber, found in foods like oats, lentils, nuts, apples, and blueberries, dissolves in water, forming a gel-like substance upon consumption. On the other hand, insoluble fiber, present in leafy greens, brown rice, walnuts, and other foods, passes through the body largely intact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Both varieties are essential. Soluble fiber contributes to lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels, while insoluble fiber prevents constipation and promotes regular bowel movements, as stated by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Thankfully, you can incorporate fiber into your diet through a variety of delicious foods, primarily whole grains, fresh produce, and nuts. For example, adding a cup of raspberries to your morning cereal or yogurt boosts your fiber intake by nearly 10 g while snacking on a handful of almonds provides an additional 3.5 g.
When increasing your fiber intake, it’s essential to proceed gradually to avoid potential discomfort, such as bloating or even severe bowel obstruction, as noted in a review published in the journal Nutrients in July 2022. Gradual incorporation, coupled with ample water consumption, allows you to fully harness the benefits of soluble fiber. Now, let’s explore these delightful high-fiber recipes to inspire your journey toward a healthier lifestyle.
5 Fiber recipes:
Veggie and Black Bean Chilaquiles Skillet
- 1 1/2 cup of salsa
- 1 5-oz bag of chickpea tortilla chips
- 1 15.5-oz can low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 large green bell pepper, diced
- 2 ribs celery, sliced
- 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped for garnish
1. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add salsa and chips. Cook, stirring frequently, until chips have soaked into the salsa, about 5 minutes.
2. Add black beans, bell pepper, and celery. Cook for another 4-5 minutes until veggies are slightly tender. Remove from heat.
3. Garnish with cilantro.
Mediterranean Lentil Tacos With Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce
- 1 cup dry (brown) lentils, rinse and drain
- 12-oz jar of roasted red peppers drained
- 2 lemons, juice, divided
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt divided
- 8 6-inch whole wheat tortillas, warmed
- 1 cup plain, unsweetened non-dairy yogurt, such as cashew or coconut yogurt
- 2 Persian cucumber, unpeeled, shredded
- Parsley topping (optional)
1. Add lentils and 1 ¾ cups of water to a pressure cooker and cook on high for 9 minutes, until soft. Release steam and drain any remaining liquid.
2. Add red peppers, garlic cloves, juice of 1 lemon, 3 tbsp olive oil, and ⅛ tsp salt to a food processor and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Add to cooked lentils.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together yogurt, shredded cucumbers, juice of 1 lemon, 1 tbsp olive oil, and ⅛ tsp salt.
4. Divide lentils evenly among 8 tortillas. Serve with yogurt sauce and sprinkle on parsley, if desired.
Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Banana, and Oatmeal Smoothie
- 1 1/2 cups plain, unsweetened soy milk (or milk of your choice)
- 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats.
- 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp natural peanut butter
- 1 tbsp hemp hearts
- 1 small ripe banana (or 1/2 large banana)
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until completely smooth, about 1 minute.
Sweet Potato Nachos for 2
- 1 sweet potato
- 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 dash of kosher salt
- 1 dash freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Roma tomato, diced
- 1/2 cup low-sodium black beans, drained and rinse
- 1/2 avocado chopped
- Thinly sliced red onion, to taste
- 1/4 cup queso (from recipe) or cheddar cheese
- 1 jalapeño thinly sliced
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Leaving the skin intact, thinly slice the sweet potato using a mandoline or a very sharp chef’s knife. Place sweet potato slices in a mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Gently toss to make sure both sides of each slice are coated in oil.
3. Arrange slices in a single layer on a prepared baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Bake until chips are golden brown and crispy, about 20 to 30 minutes. Watch carefully to make sure they don’t burn.
5. Cool completely. Top with remaining nacho ingredients just before serving.
Keto Chocolate, Almond, and Coconut Chia Pudding Recipe
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp almond butter
- Liquid Stevia, to taste (optional)
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
1. In a small bowl, whisk to combine almond milk, cocoa powder, almond butter, and Stevia (if using), or add ingredients to a blender and pulse to combine.
2. Stir in chia seeds, cover, and set in the fridge overnight.
3. Top with coconut and serve.