You might have heard from your doctor, dietitian, or even recent news reports that we should all eat more fiber. But what exactly is fiber, and why does it sound so...boring?
Fiber is an essential part of our diets that often gets overlooked. It is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot fully digest, but that’s a good thing! The fact that the body can’t digest it means it keeps you fuller longer and helps keep blood sugar steady. However, increasing fiber in your diet can be a challenge for many reasons--most processed foods are low in fiber, and we don't eat as many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as we should.
Beyond Bran Muffins
The US Dietary Guidelines suggest that healthy adults get between 25-30 g of fiber a day; most Americans get about half of that. Before you put down your phone and pick up a bran muffin, keep in mind that many different foods supply fiber, but we need to know where to look. Let's talk about some of my favorites: oats, chickpeas, popcorn, raspberries, quinoa, and broccoli.
Spice up foods full of fiber:
● Oats: Oatmeal is one of the most popular breakfast foods, and it's an easy way to get fiber first thing in the morning. You can try overnight oats, hot oatmeal, savory oatmeal, and even add oats to smoothies.
● Chickpeas: These beans are the new craze! Chickpeas can be used in salads to add protein, baked in the oven to provide a crispy snack, or mashed into different flavored hummus.
● Popcorn: Popcorn is a great snack, and around 3 cups of popcorn is a serving! You can add seasonings such as pepper, garlic, and onion powder to make a savory popcorn. Popcorn can be added to homemade trail mix, or even drizzle a little dark chocolate over it.
● Raspberries: These bright pink berries are a great low-calorie snack, and also provide tons of fiber. You can use raspberries on top of oatmeal (double the fiber!), in smoothies, or mixed in with your morning yogurt.
● Quinoa: This grain is a powerhouse because it not only has fiber, but it’s a great source of protein. Quinoa can be used as a hot cereal in the morning (savory or sweet), pan-fried to make a great fried “rice,” or used to create a hearty veggie burger.
● Broccoli: What can virtually be put in any dish and be disguised, but also add fiber? Broccoli! You can try adding broccoli to soup to bulk it up, add it to your morning omelet, or just throwing it in a stir fry for an easy dinner.
Fiber is not to be feared, but embraced! Don’t be afraid to try something new! Fiber can easily be added to dishes by making swaps or merely adding some ingredients to a recipe.