March is National Nutrition Month®; a time to celebrate all the flavor of good nutrition. The 2016 theme is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right”. How do you savor the flavor of eating right? What are your go to foods? Mine are actually foods high in fiber such as oats, various berries, walnuts, all kinds of veggies, quinoa, wild rice, and of course whole grain breads and pastas. Why fiber, you may ask?
Fiber is one component of food that is often overlooked and the endless punchline of many jokes. All joking aside, I strongly believe that an increased fiber intake benefits your body in so many ways. For National Nutrition Month® I am going to blog about how fiber can help you live a more healthy life. Fiber is not just wheat germ or bran cereal. More flavorful and enjoyable fiber is found in fruits, veggies, and whole grains. These foods can add unbelievable flavor to your plate and provide you with one of the most beneficial components for health, fiber.
Did you know that a high fiber diet can help in the treatment of the following health issues?
- Irritable bowel syndrome
A high fiber diet can also help protect again certain diseases such as:
- Heart Disease
And let’s not forget about fiber being a crucial nutrient in the promotion of weight loss. High-fiber foods make you feel fuller which allows them to displace higher caloric foods in the diet. When my clients add more fiber to their diet, they are often amazed by the quantity of high fiber foods they can eat and the length of time that they feel full afterwards. And the bonus…..they lose weight! The key is all in the fiber.
How much fiber should you strive for each day?
- Women 50 years and younger: 25 grams/day
- Women 50 years and older: 21 grams/day
- Men 50 years and younger: 38 grams/day
- Men 51 years and older: 30 grams/day
Fiber is also important for children. It helps them to keep their blood sugars steady and improve their satiety between meals. This can help lead to decreased mood swings and better bowel habits. Children should strive the for the following amounts of fiber each day:
- 1 – 3 years: 19g
- 4 – 8 years: 25g
- Girls, 9 – 13 years: 26g
- Girls, 14 – 18 years: 26g
- Boys, 9 – 13 years: 31g
- Boys, 14 – 18 years: 38g
One important thing to remember as you increase the fiber content of your diet is to do it slowly. If you increase the amount too quickly, your best efforts can backfire. This can lead to having a crampy, bloated stomach and unwanted constipation. It is good to strive for increasing your fruit and veggie intake by at least one extra serving each day at first. Then move into increasing your intake of whole grains, nuts and seeds. Be sure to drink plenty of water (get those 2 liters in each day!) as you increase your fiber intake to decrease that risk of being “backed up”.
This week, I challenge you to try out the delicious recipe for veggies and the mushroom and onion turkey burgers below. As the weather begins to get nicer, it becomes the perfect time to start using your grill. The veggie recipe will add a huge dose of flavor and color to your meals. The mushroom and onion turkey burgers will add a flavorful twist to your future cookouts (who knew you could add fiber to burgers?!). Both recipes provide fun and enjoyable ways to increase your fiber intake for your health.
Flavorful Grilled Veggies
- 1 medium eggplant, sliced into ½ inch rounds
- 1 medium yellow summer squash, sliced lengthwise into ½ inch strips
- 1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and sliced lengthwise 8 large strips
- 1 medium orange bell pepper, seeded and sliced lengthwise into 8 large strips
- 1 large red onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 ½ Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- ¾ cup nonfat plain yogurt (Greek, soy or coconut)
- 1 cup finely chopped mint, cilantro or basil
- Place eggplant, squash, peppers, and onion in a large bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, mustard, and garlic in a small bowl. Add a dash of salt. Stir 2 Tbsp. of the mixture in to the yogurt and refrigerate. Pour the remainder over the veggies. Stir to coat and marinate for at least 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat a gas or charcoal grill on one side only.
- Grill the veggies over indirect heat for about 10 minutes, or until the cooked surface softens and grill marks develop, brushing once with the leftover marinade. Turn over and grill for 5 to 10 minutes more, brushing once with the leftover marinade, until veggies are soft. Remove each veggie when done and place on platter. They may cook at different rates.
- Serve the veggies with the yogurt dip and chopped mint, cilantro or basil on the side.
Yield: 6 servings: about 7 pieces each
Nutrition Information per Serving: 110 calories; 16g carbohydrate; 4g fat; 8g protein, 5g fiber
- 1 pound 93% lean ground turkey
- 1 cup finely chopped baby portabella mushrooms
- 2 Tbsp. onion flakes
- 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup oatmeal flour (Add 1 cup of whole grain oats to a food processor and pulse until a fine flour is made. Store extra flour in an air-tight container for future use.)
Tips: to ease the cutting of the mushrooms, consider using a mini-food processor. To obtain oatmeal flour, simply use a food processor to grind oatmeal into a fine “flour”.
- Place all ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Mix until all ingredients are evenly combined.
- Form into 4 equal sized burgers
- For grill: cook on lower fire until thermometer shows internal temperature of 175º.
- For skillet: cook on medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes each side until juices run clear.
- Serve with Dijon mustard, red onion, lettuce and tomato on a whole grain sandwich thin round bread.
Yield: About 5 burgers
Nutrition Information per Burger: 211 calories, 4.4g carbohydrate; 9.25g fat; 136mg sodium; 2.1g fiber