Category Archives: Fiber

January is National Oatmeal Month

This is a better-late-than-never post. I should have run it earlier in the month.

While I have enjoyed oatmeal to the tune of several helpings along with the other fare on buffet tables, I noticed that it is not one of the most popular offerings.

I mentioned this to friends who thought one of two things. Either the other customers wanted more exotic items on the buffet and the oatmeal was too mundane. Or, they, like a lot of folks, don’t like oatmeal because it is ‘too mushy.’

It tastes as good as it looks ...

First of all, I want to point out that oatmeal is very fine food. It cuts cholesterol, has good fiber content and is a ‘whole grain’ with loads of vitamins and minerals that your body needs.

Check out the NutritionData page for the full breakdown. But, here are the food values. One-half cup (dry) oatmeal yields 150 calories, 3 grams of total fat including one gram of saturated fat. No trans fat or Cholesterol. Five mg of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein.

Fixing awesome (non-mushy) oatmeal is a breeze. As Mr. Lazy Cook, I consider it a specialty. I use the directions on the package. Bring one cup of water to a boil. Add 1/2 cup of oats and a pinch of salt. Boil for around 4 minutes and stir occasionally. As you are stirring, you can keep an eye on the oats to see that they are not boiling away totally. When I take them off I can still see the shape of the oat flakes. As a topping I use light brown sugar. It is tasty and darkens to carmel when it hits the hot oats.

That is the basic recipe for oatmeal which is a great breakfast and you can eat it every day of your life. As you get comfortable fixing it, you can add cut up strawberries, blueberries or walnuts to it for interesting and very tasty and healthful variations.

Last, but not least, oatmeal is one of Mr. Lazy Cook’s favorites. What could be more simple to prepare? And, it is good for you.

Enjoy!

This is a redo of an item from 2010.

Tony

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Mr. Lazy Cook Combines Whole Grains

I have written a number of items on simple little techniques to create nutritious meals with minimal effort.

Here is another one. I like to cook up a pot of whole grains, such as brown rice, barley, farro, etc. Although it takes over 30 minutes to cook up, it produces a major element in a half dozen meals.

For my latest experiment, I cooked up 2/3 cup of raw medium grain brown rice and 2/3 cup of barley together in organic chicken broth that I get from Costco by the quart.

Tasty barley-brown rice combo …

As you can see from the photo it cooks up into a lovely moist and tasty batch.

Later this week I will be making soup with cut up chicken from the rotisserie chicken I bought at Costco. Obviously, this latest combo of whole grains fits perfectly with that.

There are also nice cold salads you can put together based on this mixture of whole grains.

Here is the nutritional breakdown for each:

Barley: Serving Size 1 cup, Calories 193, Carbohydrates 44 grams, no Cholesterol, Fat  1 gram, Sodium 4.7 mg, Fiber 6 grams and Protein 3.6 grams

Medium grain Brown Rice: Serving Size 1 cup, Calories 218, carbohydrates 46 grams, no cholesterol, Fat 1.6 grams, Sodium 2.0 mg, Fiber 4.5 grams, and Protein 4.5 grams

Please do feel free to write in suggestions of meals you made with this.

A quick final note. I just had a side dish of this barley-brown rice pilaf for dinner and the combination had a lovely taste and texture.

Tony

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How to Make the World’s Thinnest Soup From Scratch

Mr. Lazy Cook is at it again. What to do with left over white meat from a delicious Costco rotisserie chicken? Also, it is the middle of a heat wave over much of the country, and certainly here in Chicago. That isn’t conducive to spending a lot of time preparing meals.

It happens that I have on hand a large amount of previously cooked barley. I have mentioned in previous lazy cookery posts that I like to work ahead by precooking several day’s to a week’s worth of one dish that I can then mix and match to create simple and fast meals.

So thin you don't see the actual soup till you start eating it with your fork

When I precook the barley, I don’t use plain water any more. I use chicken broth that comes in cartons. This also happens to be a Costco ingredient. Six quart cartons cost less than $10. The bottom line is that the barley is quite tasty cooked this way and doesn’t need a lot of help in the flavor department.
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Kashi Explains Volume/Weight Conundrum

On April 29 I wrote Kashi – First Rate Food, Second Rate Info which you can read here.

I emailed them at least six times without success. Then, On June 20, my phone rang and it was a lady from Kashi calling to see if I had been satisfied in my queries. I told her that I appreciated the call, but had not been satisfied at all. I explained that while I loved eating Kashi’s GOLEAN Crunch, I was troubled by the fact that it said one serving was 55 grams or one cup. When I weighed my cupful measurement, the cereal weighed over 100 grams.

The lady, Kathy McGillivray, Manager of Kashi Consumer Communications, gave me a detailed explanation of how the government regulations worked in regard to reporting. Because of the details involved, I asked her to please send it to me in writing.

Following is that letter:
=====================
Hi Tony,

Thank you for your question about how the cereal serving size is determined for Kashi® GOLEAN Crunch!® and other cereals. Per our conversation, below is a detailed summary of the process we discussed. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me….

The federal Code of Regulations requires serving sizes for non-discrete bulk products like breakfast cereal to be the amount in household measure that most closely approximates the reference amount for the product category. This standard reference amount is commonly known by the acronym RACC which stands for Reference Amount Customarily Consumed, pronounced like the word rack.

There are two basic steps in the process used to determine labeled serving sizes for cereals:

1. Determine which standard reference amount applies to the product – 30 or 55 gram. A 30 gram reference amount is used for lighter textured cereals like Kashi® Strawberry Fields cereal. A 55 gram reference amount is used for cereals that are more dense, such as Kashi® GOLEAN Crunch!® cereal or Kashi® Summer Berry granola.

2. Find the common household measure closest to the reference amount.
The serving size must be expressed using the allowed household measure that is closest to the reference amount or RACC. Allowable household measures include standard cup sizes, i.e. ½ cup, ¾ cup, 1 cup etc. or pieces, i.e. 28 biscuits for a product like Kashi® Cinnamon Harvest® cereal.

For example, the closest RACC for Kashi® Strawberry Fields Cereal is 30 grams and 1 cup weighs 32 grams, so the labeled serving size is 1 Cup, 32g. The closest RACC for Kashi® GOLEAN Crunch!® is 55 grams and 1 cup weighs 53 grams, so the labeled serving size is 1 Cup, 53g.

You may be asking how we determined that 1 cup weighs 53 grams for Kashi® GOLEAN Crunch!®. This is determined based on the use of a calibrated scale and a large sample size, no less than 30 measurements are taken. The sample is poured into the cup and leveled by selectively removing extra sample out of the container. This is complete when the particle volume above the edge of the container approximately equals the free air space found between sample pieces immediately below the fill line. We do not use more than 75% of the box of cereal to prevent biasing the measurements with fines.

To ensure the most accurate value, we calculate the average measurement across many boxes of cereal and several different people filling the cup. We also calculate the standard deviation and a 95% Confidence Interval around the true average grams per one cup serving.

The weight that you calculated for the 1 cup serving size may have been different than the 53 grams for any number of reasons. The clusters could have been broken down or reduced in size or maybe only one sample from one box was measured, where we measure multiple samples from many different boxes using more than one person pouring the samples. The nutrition label is based on the serving size by weight. Therefore, if you are counting calories and want to be as accurate as possible, consider weighing your cereal in grams with a calibrated digital scale as an option. My emphasis.

I hope this was helpful. Thank you again for contacting us.

Best of Health,

Kathy McGillivray
Manager, Consumer Communications
Consumer Affairs Department
================

I suggested back in January that you ought to have a food scale to really have accurate readings on what you consume. You can read it here.

Finally, I would like to thank Kathy McGillivray for ‘going the extra mile’ and writing out this excellent explanation and putting the matter to rest.

Tony

As of Feb 6, 2013: Editor’s note: Because Kashi products contain GMO ingredients, I no longer buy them.

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How About a Tasty Shrimp Salad from Mr. Lazy Cook?

The latest stop on my road to fresh eating this summer was an attempted shrimp salad this afternoon. Fast, simple and very nutritious. Here’s how it went down.

You remember that the previous salad started with some pre-cooked barley that I had left over from my slow cooker soup. Well, this one started similarly.

But first, I tore up about two cups of spinach into a bowl for starters.

Then I cut up four medium-sized shrimp into quarters. I buy bags of frozen pre-cooked shrimp that I can take out and thaw under water in a matter of minutes. True lazy cookery.

Add about a cup of the cold pre-cooked barley.

For texture and contrasting taste, I included about a quarter cup of walnut pieces.

I thought that the balsamic vinegar that I used on my previous salad would overpower the more subtle flavors of the shrimp and walnuts. So instead I added one to two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and mix well.

Sprinkle on some Parmesan cheese and serve.

As was the case in my previous salad, this one turned out very nice indeed. I thought the various flavors of walnuts and shrimp combined in a really interesting way. The Parmesan cheese added a nice edge to the flavor.

Please feel free to add or subtract any ingredients that you feel might suit your taste to these improvisations and let us know how they worked for you.

Nutritional breakdown:
Shrimp: 80 calories, 0.5 grams fat, 165 mg cholesterol, sodium 190 mg, no carbohydrates or fiber, 18 grams of protein.
Olive oil: 189 calories, 21 grams fat, no cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates or protein.
Walnuts: 96 calories, 9.5 grams fat, no cholesterol, 0.3 mg sodium, 2 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 2.2 grams of protein.
Barley: 129 calories, 0.5 grams fat, no cholesterol, 3.1 mg sodium, 29.6 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber and 2.4 grams of protein.

Tony

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Mr. Lazy Cook Tweaks the High Fiber Parfait Recipe – For the Last Time (?)

I wrote my High Fiber Parfait recipe right after we started the blog. I said I loved it, ate it every day and would rather eat it than a bowl of ice cream.

My parfait never looked anything like this masterpiece

That is still true, but I have recently become concerned about my intake of dairy products and since this had close to two cups of yogurt and about a 1/4 cup of kefir, I decided that was too much dairy for me to eat every day.

Hence the new recipe. I have eliminated all the yogurt and the kefir and just use one cup of soy milk. In the previous tweak I used skimmed milk. Now it is completely dairy-free.

While not as artistic, Mr. Lazy Cook’s looks pretty tasty …

With the yogurts and kefir eliminated, it is probably more accurate to call my parfait a bowl of high fiber cereal with strawberries and blueberries.

Recipe
Add one cup of Kashi’s Go Lean cereal (much like granola)
Add a couple of strawberries cut into small pieces
If I have fresh blueberries around, I add a handful
Pour the soy milk over this, stir a while and serve. The stirring is necessary to get all the Go Lean soaked with the soy milk. Otherwise, it can be hard to chew.

Instead of the 478 calories in the original, this comes in just under 300 calories. Still delicious and nutritious!

Editor’s Note: I still make this wonderful parfait regularly, BUT I no longer use Kashi’s Go Lean or any other Kashi product since they employ GMO ingredients. Just substitute a granola of your choice and this recipe stands.

Tony

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Food Diary and Exercise Log for a Summer Day

Although we are barely a month into spring, Chicago was blessed with a summer day yesterday and I wanted to share my food and exercise diary with our readers. Regarding Chicago weather, you need to understand that two days ago I was wearing long underwear walking my dog in 35F cold in the wind. Yesterday, we hit a high of 91F at O’Hare Field for a new record high for the date.

Breakfast:
Fixed Coffee, Breakfast smoothie and one hard-boiled egg- 503 calories
Walked dog – one mile -burned 100 calories

18 mile bike ride – burned 755 calories
Ate 1/2 powerbar snack 110 calories
Dog walk 1/2 mile – burned 50 calories

Lunch:
HIgh fiber Kashi GOLEAN Crunch parfait (with soymilk) 290 calories
One slice pizza bread – 330 calories
One serving Salsa chips – 140 calories
1-1/2 servings hummus – 105 calories
One Apple – 95 calories

Chicago's Grant Park bandshell with trees in full bloom in May

19 mile bike ride – burned 797 calories
Ate 1/2 powerbar snack 110 calories
Dog walk 1/2 mile – burned 50 calories

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Mr. Lazy Cook Makes Mushroom, Broccoli Barley Soup

One of my best cooking utensils is the new slow cooker I got a month or so ago. I love filling it with the ‘fixins’ in the morning and taking the lid off at supper time for a piping hot meal.

My latest effort was another low labor, high food value one.

I poured several cups of chicken broth into my slow cooker. I have a ‘small’ 1-1/2 quart unit. I put small in quotes because this happens to be the perfect size for a guy like me who lives alone and cooks for himself.


On top of the chicken broth I add about a cup of broccoli florets cut up.

Cut into small coins one small carrot. Into the pot.

Slice up about a half cup of mushrooms. Ditto.

Last, but not least, add a cup of well-rinsed barley.

Top that off with a further two cups of chicken broth, cover, turn on the heat and go about your business.

Four hours later, I turn off the heat, open the cover and inhale the sumptuous aroma of my fresh hot soup.

Note: At this point, the barley has absorbed 95% of the chicken broth. The good news is that it tastes delicious as a result. The other news is that I have to add another cup of the broth to a bowl to have some lovely thick, hot soup after a brief stint in the microwave. This leaves me with well over a quart of mushroom, broccoli barley stew that will be the base of numerous bowls of delicious hot soup with a little chicken broth added.

I have said before that it’s an ill wind that blows no good and with the chilly windy spring weather that has pummeled Chicago lately. This soup dish really hits the spot.

I usually toast up a slice of sprouted rye bread for dipping.

Barley is a wonderful whole grain that is a worthy addition to your diet.

Here is the nutritional breakdown:
One cup cooked barley yields 193 calories, 0.7 grams of fat, no saturated fat, no cholesterol, 4.7 mg of sodium, 44.3 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber and 3.5 grams of protein.

Tony

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Kashi – First Rate Food, Second Rate Info

First, the good news. I have been eating Kashi GOLEAN Crunch for years. I love it. I used GOLEAN to make a delicious parfait that was also high in fiber using it and several different flavors of yogurts as well as kefir that I wrote about last March.

In October I tweaked the recipe to use less yogurt because I was concerned about all the sugar in it. I substituted straight skimmed milk. This reduced the sugar and the calories. The dish also included strawberries and blueberries and, most importantly, remained delicious.

Making the parfait I always poured out my cup of GOLEAN into a bowl. The nutritional info on the box stated that one cup/53 grams yielded 190 calories. For some reason, I decided to weigh the GOLEAN instead of pouring out a measuring cup full. Wonder of wonders 53 grams of the cereal only came to 4 ounces in the measuring cup. As a result of this experience I wrote A Really Good Reason to get a Food Scale early this month.

The more I thought about it, though, the more it bothered me. Which measurement was correct? If it was the scale, I had been consuming 380 calories of Go Lean every day instead of 190 calories for years. On the other hand. If the cup were right, folks who weigh their cereal are only getting half what they expect.

I sent an email to the company. No answer. Here is a copy of my second request.
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5 Habits for Heart Health – Harvard

Here are five strategies to protect your heart, arteries and the rest of you, according to Harvard Medical School’s HealthBeat.

1. Avoid tobacco. Smoke from cigarettes, cigars, and pipes is as bad for the heart and arteries as it is for the lungs. If you smoke, quitting is the biggest gift of health you can give yourself. Secondhand smoke is also toxic, so avoid it whenever possible.

2. Be active. Exercise and physical activity are about the closest things you have to magic bullets against heart disease and other chronic conditions. Any amount of activity is better than none; at least 30 minutes a day is best.

For folks with demanding jobs, use the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to work or the train station. Exercise is cumulative. Three 10 minute walks give you the same benefit as one 30 minute walk. Find a way.

3. Aim for a healthy weight. Carrying extra pounds, especially around the belly, strains the heart and tips you toward diabetes. If you are overweight, losing just 5% to 10% of your starting weight can make a big difference in your blood pressure and blood sugar.

See our item on belly fat here.

4. Enliven your diet. Add fruits and vegetables, whole grains, unsaturated fat, good protein (from beans, nuts, fish, and poultry), and herbs and spices. Subtract processed foods, salt, rapidly digested carbohydrates (from white bread, white rice, potatoes, and the like), red meat, and soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages.

This sounds a lot like the Mediterranean Diet we wrote about on April 24.

5. Drink alcohol in moderation (if at all). If you drink alcohol, limit your intake — one to two drinks a day for men, no more than one a day for women.
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Harvard on the Food Value of Fiber

Fiber, protein and carbohydrates are the three-legged nutritional stool upon which our lives depend. Harvard has issued a report that includes a super write-up on the value of fiber in our daily diet.

Harvard Medical School offers special reports on over 50 health topics. Visit their website to find reports of interest to you and your family.

Fiber: The workhorse
Fiber is a form of indigestible carbohydrate found mainly in plant foods. Over the years, fiber has been hailed as a potential weapon against colon cancer, high cholesterol, and heart disease. Fiber’s vaunted health benefits were diminished slightly by findings that it doesn’t prevent colon polyps (precursors of colon cancer). But fiber slightly reduces LDL cholesterol, improves insulin resistance, and is linked to a lower rate of heart disease. It is considered one of the most important health attributes of foods.
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Steaming Broccoli in the Pasta Boat – Mr. Lazy Cook

Well, I finally got around to steaming some veggies in the Pasta Boat. When I first bought the Pasta Boat and wrote it up last November I promised to steam some veggies and let you know how it worked.

I am happy to report that the Pasta Boat steams veggies as simply and efficiently as it cooks pasta.

There is a steaming rack included in the Pasta Boat package. You only use it for steaming. It is clearly marked not to be used for pasta.

I got a couple of cups of broccoli, rinsed it off and set them inside the Pasta Boat.

Freshly steamed broccoli inside the Pasta Boat

I had the steaming rack inside along with a cup of water.

Steaming is utter simplicity, right up Mr. Lazy Cook’s alley.

Cover the Pasta Boat.
Put in microwave.
Cook on high for five minutes.
Remove and serve.

Steaming just brings out the freshest color, doesn’t it?

The photos show the rich green of the freshly steamed broccoli.

Broccoli breaks down as follows nutritionally: One serving is a cup.
31 calories, no fat of any kind, no cholesterol, 30 mg of sodium, 6 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein.

Again, I recommend the Pasta Boat. I have made my own pasta in it since the day I bought it.

Tony

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What Are The Top 10 Benefits From Eating Oats?

Of all the superfoods, oats in all its forms may not be number one, but it’s right up there, according to the Food Channel.

Previously, I wrote up Mr. Lazy Cook’s awesome oatmeal.
Check it out for a fast simple way to fix very tasty oatmeal.

Herewith the top 10 good things about oats
1. Oats are a source of soluble and insoluble fiber.
2. Oats may help with weight control.
3. Oats are a whole grain.
4. All oat forms are equally nutritious. Steel cut, old fashioned oats (5 minute), quick oats (1 minute), and instant oats are different forms of the same thing – whole grain oats. On an equal weight basis, there is no nutritional difference between steel cut oats, old fashioned oats, quick oats and regular unflavored instant oatmeal. The only difference is the way the oat has been cut and/or rolled. Cutting and rolling affect cooking time and baking use, not nutritional content. I love this. I have foodie friends who sniff that they only eat steel cut oats.

A bowl of solid gold nutrition

5. Oats are the only major grain proven to help reduce blood cholesterol.
6. Oats offer many nutritional benefits.
7. Oats are packed with flavor
8. Oats add texture.
9. Oats are quick, convenient and full of variety.
10. Oats are versatile. Oats go beyond the breakfast bowl. Try them in meatloaf/meatballs, as a coating for chicken and fish, and as a partial flour replacement when baking. Quick or old fashioned oats can be substituted for up to one-third of the flour called for in recipes for muffins, biscuits, pancakes, loaf-type quick breads, coffeecakes, yeast breads, cookies and bars.

Nutritional breakdown:
Rolled oats 1/2 cup (dry) is 150 calories, 3 grams of fat, no cholesterol or sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein.

Milk-and-Oatmeal-Breakfast-Powerhouse.png

Tony

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Mr. Lazy Cook Tweaks the High Fiber Parfait Recipe

I wrote my High Fiber Parfait recipe right after we started the blog. I said I loved it, ate it every day and would rather eat it than a bowl of ice cream.

My parfait never looked anything like this masterpiece

That is still true, but I have recently become concerned about my intake of dairy products and since this had close to two cups of yogurt and about a 1/4 cup of kefir, I decided that was too much dairy for me to eat at one meal.

Hence the new recipe. I have eliminated all the yogurt and the kefir and just use one cup of skimmed milk.

While not artistic, Mr. Lazy Cook’s looks pretty tasty …

With the yogurts and kefir eliminated, it is probably more accurate to call it a bowl of high fiber cereal with strawberries.

Recipe
Add 8 ounces of Kashi’s Go Lean cereal (much like granola)
Add a couple of strawberries cut into small pieces
If I have fresh blueberries around, I add a handful
Pour the milk over this, stir awhile and serve. The stirring is necessary to get all the Go Lean soaked with milk. Otherwise, it can be hard to chew.

Instead of the 478 calories in the original, this comes in just under 300 calories.

Editor’s Note: I still make this wonderful parfait regularly, BUT I no longer use Kashi’s Go Lean or any other Kashi product since they employ GMO ingredients. Just substitute a granola of your choice and this recipe stands.

Tony

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Mr. Lazy Cook Makes another Crockpot Soup

Reasonably encouraged by the soup I made in my new crockpot last week, I decided to try again. This time with a different grain. BTW, while I have only a 1.5 quart cooker, my first batch yielded a LOT of soup. It took me almost a week to finish it. I think this sized slow cooker is perfect for a person who lives alone.

Second time around I did a variation on my recipe. I have found over the years that working with the same base and making incremental changes results in a discernible growth in information and opens up interesting avenues to experiment with in the future.

Variations on a theme of barley


This time instead of the farro in my first soup, I used barley. As far as taste goes, I prefer barley, but that is up to you. If you want to follow along with these, I suggest doing them in the same order.

Start with one cup of barley rinsed well.
This time I used 3-1/2 cups of chicken broth to account for absorption by the cooking barley.
Instead of powdered broth, I tried a liquid quart from Trader Joe’s.
Again, I cut up a celery stalk and a carrot stick into small, thin coins
Last but not least, I cut into small pieces half of a chicken breast left over from a rotisserie chicken.

Cook in slow cooker for 3 hours.

The result was even better than last week. The extra cup of broth meant I had more of a thick soup than a thin stew. I think the broth tasted richer, too.

I added a couple of touches when serving it.

I used to cook a lot of Asian dishes and I developed a taste for sesame oil. I added a teaspoon of sesame oil to the first bowl I served. This puts another layer of flavor on the dish.

As before, I toasted up a couple of slices of sprouted rye bread to dip.

The finished product was a lovely stick-to-the-ribs meal on a chilly March Sunday here in Chicago.

Barley nutritional breakdown:
one cup cooked barley yields 193 calories, 0.7 grams of fat, no saturated fat, no cholesterol, 4.7 mg of sodium, 44.3 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber and 3.5 grams of protein.

Tony

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Eat More Fiber – It Could Save Your Life

Fiber doesn’t get the food spotlight that things like fat, carbs and cholesterol do, but it’s something most of us don’t get enough of.

A new study says fiber can help us live longer and fend off several health problems. You can read about this new study on our health news page.

I got on the fiber bandwagon several years ago and have found my quality of life improved as a result. After trying a variety of high fiber cereals, I settled on Trader Joe’s High Fiber Cereal because it has more fiber per serving, 9 grams, and the fewest calories, only 80 for 2/3 cup (one serving). I have a full cup of this every morning, so I’m getting about 13 grams of fiber in only 120 calories. I add a banana, another 100 calories, and about a quarter cup of Cheerios or generic equivalents for the oats (there’s the cholesterol angle), so altogether about a 300-calorie breakfast.

The 13 grams of fiber is about half what I should have (the article on our news page recommends 14 grams per 1,000 calories consumed daily, which would put me needing about 28 grams a day), so I am half way there at breakfast. Broccoli can be a good fiber source with dinner as can various fruits and other veggies too.

If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s in your area, there are lots of other fiber cereals, try to find one that has a pleasant taste to it (as opposed to tasting like dead wood like most of them do) Just watch the calorie and sugar content.
John

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