Time to fall into fiber.
As the cooler weather makes you start thinking about warm comfort foods, pay attention to the potential for your meals to contribute a nice fiber fix. Thats the first thing I think of when I contemplate this seasonal meal transition.
Hearty finger and toe warmers such as chili, soups and baked breads can include ingredients that are naturally rich in both soluble and insoluble forms of dietary fiber. Insoluble fiber from whole grains and vegetables is natures laxative, and soluble fiber found in abundance in beans, peas, oats and other foods is a modulator of blood sugar and fat levels.
In other words, theyre good for what ails you. Theyre components of a healthy diet that most of us would do well to boost.
With a little awareness, its easy to work more of those ingredients into your meals on a regular basis.
Most have the added benefit of also being rich sources of other vitamins and minerals, too. Try some of these for starters:
• Root vegetables. Fix roasted roots, stews or sides made with carrots, parsnips, beets, white potatoes and sweet potatoes, kohlrabi and turnips.
• Dried beans and peas. Theres chili, navy bean or black bean soup, baked beans and lentil soup, to name a few. You have permission to enjoy the convenience of canned varieties if you dont feel like doing the overnight soak routine.
• Oatmeal. Eat it as a hot cereal or in cold cereals such as muesli and granola and baked into muffins and quick breads.
• Whole grain flour. Nows the time to crank up the bread machine and get back into the habit of making freshly baked multigrain breads, rolls and pizza crusts.
• Hearty vegetables. Cooked kale, collards, mustard and turnip greens go well with many different entrees or serve as a good base for one-dish meals made with rice, quinoa, and bits of protein foods and other vegetables.
• Cooked fruits. Serve baked apples and warm compotes made with prunes and dried apricots.
• Toasted seeds and nuts. Pumpkin seeds, smoked almonds and chopped walnuts and cashews are good in casseroles, chili and hot cereals.
Black, brown, green, red, purple and gold. Like beautiful fall leaves, let the fiber-filled foods of autumn color your plate.
Suzanne Havala Hobbs is a registered dietitian and clinical associate professor of health policy and management at UNC-Chapel Hill. Reach her at email@example.com; follow her on Twitter, @suzannehobbs.