Why fiber is my friend

I’m fired up about fiber right now, so how about a fiber focus.

What is the big deal with fiber, you ask? Well, for one, if I’m seeking foods with fiber, I’m usually in the realm of “off-white” foods, and therefore don’t have to worry as much about the junk like HFCS, hydrogenated oils and my nemesis: refined sugar. There just isn’t a lot of foods that mix fiber and junk: it’s a conflict of interest.

Also, fiber makes me feel full and helps me digest and keep things a movin’. Fiber is also like the “junk magnet” in the body: it can carry out toxins, poor quality nutrients and other “stuff” we don’t really want getting into our bodies and hanging out for too long. Eating fiber speeds up the elimination process, so our food isn’t lingering in the gut.

In an ideal world we would get like 35 grams of fiber/day, which is much MORE than what the average US adult gets (10-15g/day is typical).

So, let’s aim to boost our fiber. Research shows that just 5g/meal of fiber can help balance blood sugar, which is a major player in weight gain/loss + diabetes, etc. 5g of fiber is about 1 apple.

Here are some tips for getting in your fiber:

  • have at least 5 servings of fruit/veggies per day. Berries, apples, kiwis, sweet potatoes, and broccoli are examples of foods with at least 4g of fiber per serving.
  • Eat breads or crackers with AT MINIMUM 3g of fiber per serving. Watch the HFCS too. You’re basically left with either fresh, local whole grain breads, or breads like Ezekiel.
  • Get some beans in your diet. A cup of black beans has about 20G of fiber per serving. Garbanzo beans and lentils are high in fiber too.
  • Eat cereals with at least 5g of fiber and less than 10g of sugar. Again, you’re limited to things like Puffins, Kashi, All-bran, and stuff that doesn’t have a cartoon character on the label.
  • Even random things like Molasses, soy milk, almonds, dates, chocolate (YES! A good piece of chocolate has 2-4g of fiber/serving) are sources of fiber.

Recipe: Fiber-fest oatmeal

1/4 cup whole oats
1/2 cup hot water
1 tbsp chopped almonds
1 tbsp blackstrap molasses
cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, to taste
1/2 small apple, finely chopped
1 tbsp flaxmeal, ground

Cook the oats on the stove on low-med heat, stirring frequently. Add the apples, almonds, spices, and molasses in at the end and cook for about 1 more minute, covered. Add flaxmeal in just before serving. You don’t want to heat flaxmeal too much.

Serves 1, but it’s a hearty serving. Should keep ya full for while.

Happy eating and happy digesting!

Get your calcium – no milk needed!

We’ve all heard for years about the importance of calcium for strong bones. For year’s its been the same slogan: Eat 3 servings/day of dairy for getting in that calcium! Well, what if your body doesn’t handle dairy too well (like mine!). Are you destined to frail bones – no way!

In fact, I like non-dairy sources of calcium because this usually means fruits, veggies, legumes and grains – all which also contain other phytonutrients and FIBER. Think about it: if you eat 3 servings of dairy (no fiber), that is dairy at every meal, basically. That means 1 major part of every meal is already void of fiber. This is no good.

If you look back at Eastern medicine (AKA 5,000 year old knowledge), it suggests that limiting dairy in the diet is a good idea because of its “congesting” nature – it constipates, it creates mucus, it mucks things up. Even our everyday wisdom tells us to avoid dairy when we get a cold because of the phlegm factor. This seems to me like a good thing to just not OD on no matter what, because…who needs more “congestion” in their GI tract. Most of us already have a hard enough time keeping things moving, so let’s find some creative sources of Calcium that won’t leave you feeling backed up.

The sweetest part of what I’m going to reveal: these non-dairy foods are usually also naturally good sources of Magnesium too, which is needed for proper Calcium absorption. So, to get that recommended 1200 mg/day of Calcium without dairy, consider the following “off white” options:

Collard greens: 1 cup = 266 mg
Oatmeal: 1/2 cup raw = 326 mg
Figs: 10 medium = 269 mg
Northern beans + Navy beans: 1 cup = 121 mg
Tofu: 1/2 cup = 248 mg
Edemame: 1 cup = 175 mg
Spinach: 1 cup = 291

Even Salmon and Sardines have calcium. Yea, I know they aren’t veggies/beans but they aren’t dairy either. Salmon kicks in with 180 mg/3 oz and Sardines rock the house with 325 mg/3 oz.

Okay, so my FAVORITE discovery about Calcium is Molasses. Blackstrap Molasses, to be exact.

Just 1 Tbsp of Blackstrap gives up 172 mg Calcium. That is awesome! Molasses is a great topper for oatmeal (which also has the calcium), great in baking, and even works nicely as a sauce to sweeten white meats (mix with a little olive oil and a little chili powder and baste some chicken – YUM!).