Northern Westchester Hospital Dietician Promotes Fiber

Posted on: January 17, 2014

Focus on Your Fiber

January is National Fiber Focus month, making it the perfect time to start the New Year off right by adding more fiber into your diet. The daily recommended intake for fiber is 25 grams/day for women and 38 grams/day for men, but most Americans fail to meet this requirement and only consume about 15 grams daily. Increasing your fiber intake can help aid in digestion, weight management, lowering cholesterol and improving insulin sensitivity.

There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water forming a gel; while insoluble fiber stays intact and moves rather quickly through your gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, because soluble fibers move through the gastrointestinal tract slower they help keep you feeling full longer. Insoluble fibers speed up the movement of food and waste aiding in digestion and laxation (bowel movement).

5 Ways to Increase Fiber:
There are several easy ways to incorporate more fiber into your diet, below are a few tips to get you started.  Find other tasty recipes on the NWH website, under Education & Events.

1. Bake in Treats. Use 100% whole-wheat flour as a substitute to all-purpose white flour and add a variety of fiber ingredients like dried fruits or fruit puree, nuts and flaxseeds to your favorite baked good recipe.

2. Load up on Legumes.  Legumes, such as peas, beans and lentils, are group additions to soups or stews, on top of salads or as a side dish to your favorite dinner meal.

3. Shake it Up. Try mixing up your traditional berry smoothie by adding veggies like spinach or kale and chia seeds for an extra fiber boost.

4. Experiment with Ancient Grains. Unique fiber sources include ancient grains like quinoa, farro and freekeh. Add to homemade chilis, meatballs or a substitute for white rice or pasta.

5. Sneak in Snacks. Switch to whole grain crackers and pair with hummus, make your own trail mix with high fiber cereal, popcorn and dried fruit or bake a batch of savory kale or beet chips.

By including a variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, and nuts you can adequately meet all of your fiber needs. It’s also important to drink plenty of water as you increase your fiber intake in order to avoid any gastrointestinal discomfort.

Enjoy these fiber-filled recipes in honor of fiber month and the rest of the winter season:

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili
Courtesy of

The combination of these super foods provides a flavorful and hearty meal. Sweet potatoes are high in Vitamin A which helps boost immune function.

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chile
1/8 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 1/3 cups water
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and potato and cook, stirring often, until the onion is slightly softened, about 4 minutes.
2. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, chipotle and salt and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3. Add water, bring to a simmer, cover, reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the potato is tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
4. Add beans, tomatoes and lime juice; increase heat to high and return to a simmer, stirring often.
5. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in cilantro.

Cranberry-Walnut Oatmeal
Courtesy of

Start your day with this creamy, delicious oatmeal recipe that will keep you fuller longer thanks to its fiber and protein content.

1 cup steel-cut oats
1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups water
4 teaspoons chopped walnuts
4 teaspoons firmly packed brown sugar

1. In a saucepan, combine the oats, cranberries, salt, cinnamon and water.
2. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the oats are tender, about 20 minutes.
3. Spoon the oatmeal into warmed individual bowls and sprinkle each serving with 1 teaspoon of the walnuts and 1 teaspoon of the brown sugar. Serve immediately.

Marinated Lentil Salad
Courtesy of

This zesty vinaigrette adds a kick to your traditional lentil salad.

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped parsnip
1/2 cup chopped carrot
6 cups boiling water
1 1/2 cups dried lentils
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1. To prepare vinaigrette, combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Set aside.
2. To prepare the salad, cook the parsnip and carrot in 6 cups boiling water for 1 minute or until tender; remove vegetables with a slotted spoon. Add lentils; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until tender; drain in a colander. Cool.
3. Combine parsnip, carrot, lentils, celery, onions, and parsley in a bowl; stir in vinaigrette. Marinate at room temperature for at least 20 minutes.
Note: Cooking the lentils for only 15 minutes preserves their shape and texture.