Fiber could be considered an almost magical ingredient for those wishing to whittle down their waistlines. Fiber is known for slowing the digestive process making you feel fuller for longer periods of time. It also stabilizes blood sugar and delays insulin response. Another advantage of increasing your fiber intake is better digestive health through regular bowel movements.
As far as weight loss goes, nutritionists will tell you that one gram of fiber literally cancels out about seven calories. That means that if you made it a goal to consume 35 grams of fiber a day, you would theoretically lose roughly half a pound a week. Who knew that you could lose weight by eating more? But if you have ever tried fiber supplements that you mix in water, you have no doubt seen the difficulty in consuming this amount of fiber. Fortunately, there are many ways to sneak good-tasting fiber into your diet.
Along with a lot of other beneficial nutrients, beans are full of fiber. In fact, most beans contain an average of about 10 grams of fiber per ½ cup serving. Of course, you could simply serve them more often as a side dish, but there are many other ways to incorporate more servings of beans into a healthy diet. Here are a few tricks for eating more beans:
• Make a fresh veggie salsa with beans, corn, diced onion, and tomatoes and serve over fiber-rich salad greens.
• Puree cooked beans and seasoning in a food processor to make a wonderful dip for raw veggies.
• Thin out that same dip with a little milk and add a tablespoon or two of dry ranch seasoning and you have a salad dressing or a sauce for steamed vegetables.
• Use bean flour. Tired of eating beans? Try cooking with bean flour. Bean flour is made from grinding dried beans and is readily available on the specialty aisle in many larger grocery stores. Bean flour is made from a variety of beans ranging from white beans to black beans – even green peas. Though bean flour is a bit dense and is not an adequate substitute for every recipe, most of the time you can replace some of the wheat flour with bean flour. Bean flour can also be used for breading chicken, making gravy, or thickening soup. It has twice the fiber of whole wheat flour and it is gluten-free.
Everybody knows that vegetables are very high in fiber content, but what if you are not particularly fond of them? Try these sneaky tricks for adding fiber-rich veggies to your diet:
• Yellow squash, zucchini, and cauliflower can be steamed, pureed, and added to spaghetti sauce without detection.
• Open a can of pumpkin and add it to homemade beef stew or chili. You won’t even know it’s there.
• Dice up mushrooms in your ground beef, turkey, or pork. The meaty consistency of mushrooms makes it a perfect pairing with ground meat.
• Put a handful of spinach in a blueberry smoothie. The taste of spinach is so mild that you won’t be able to taste it and the deep color of the blueberries will keep your smoothie blue instead of green.
Incorporating oats into your diet is a great way to add whole-grain fiber. If you don’t like oatmeal, try these tips:
• Add oats to meatloaf or meatballs as a binding ingredient instead of bread crumbs.
• Make oatmeal cookies. Up the fiber ante by adding raisins and nuts.
• Soak a handful of plain, instant oats in milk and use in your morning cereal. The oats will soften and won’t notice any difference in taste.
• Grind oats in a blender and use the oat flour to coat oven-fried fish or chicken.
Increasing your fiber intake not only helps you with the battle of the bulge, but it can also decrease your risk for heart disease, type II diabetes, and colorectal cancer. Use these sneaky tips for getting more fiber into your diet.