Fiber: The Real Deal vs. The Imposters

While, browsing the isles of the food store recently, I’ve come across numerous products touting ‘Great Source of Fiber’, however, many food companies are attempting to fool consumers such as you and I about the fiber in their products.


Start by taking a look at your favorite products, I’m sure you’ll be surprised to see a whole slew of ingredients such as modified food starch and other additives.  And what will you not see? Well, many of these products do Not list whole grains–therefore they’re serving up processed junk that has been stripped of its nutritional value and fiber content.  Many of my clients face stomach discomfort and GI problems, including myself, when these additives are consumed.

When reading the ingredient list on a food package, be sure to recognize fiber impostors such as inulin, modified starch, maltodextrin and polydextrose and understand that if the packing is touting ‘Fiberific” and these ingredients are listed…it’s time to put the product back on the shelf and reach for a whole grain product with ‘real’ fiber.

These fake fibers that I listed above do not provide us with the health benefits that we get from real fiber in fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.  Be sure to watch out for fiber fortified products from brands such as Fiber One, Splenda, Post and General Mills cereals, crackers and desserts.

Be aware of the false advertising on packages of yogurts, cookies, ice creams, diet drinks and brownies.  These foods contain polydextrose, which I mentioned above and is synthesized from glucose and sorbitol, a low-calorie carbohydrate.  It’s one of the many new fiber imposters along with inulin and maltodextrin that is showing up in baked goods and dairy products that previously had very little or no fiber.  Sadly enough, the FDA  allows manufacturers to add polydextrose to more products than previously permitted, allowing food companies to entice consumers such as you and I to buy the ‘good tasting’ fiber foods.  These fiber additives serve two purposes-they can be used as bulking agents to make reduced-calorie foods taste yummy such as fat-free ice cream and pudding and they appeal to consumers by appearing on the Nutrition Facts as ‘dietary fiber’.  Don’t be fooled!

I encourage you to steer clear of these fiber impostors which make us believe that fiber ‘tastes good’ unlike the cardboard taste that many fiber rich products have.  Transitioning your family to increase their fiber content can be a struggle, however, do not let these processed foods become a part of your daily fiber intake.  Try to reach for fruits, veggies, whole grains and legumes.  Make sure your fiber is coming from oat bran, whole wheat, beans, peas, prunes, almonds and other plans as these foods  naturally contain fiber.

As we all know from my previous post on Fiber, there are two forms.  Insoluble, which forms bulk and regulates acidity in your stomach and Soluble, which helps regulate cholesterol and blood sugar.

Insoluble is found in foods such as whole wheat products, quinoa, brown rice, bran, fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds.

Soluble is found in foods such as oats, barley, rye, potatoes, fruits, veggies, dried fruits and legumes.

So, stick to the basics and don’t let your food get too complicated.  If grandma wouldn’t recognize it…put it back on the shelf and head to the perimeter of the food store where you will find fresh fruits and veggies with ‘Real Fiber’.

The Great Gluten Free Recipe Contest

I was recently contacted by Amy’s Organic and Lundberg Farms, who are hosting a unique recipe contest.  Both Amy’s and Lundberg are dedicated to serving the gluten free community and invited me to share how I use their tasty products.  Here is my delicious Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free and Vegetarian Recipe.

I hope you’re hungry, because it’s delish!


Sweet Potato, Rainbow Chard and White Bean Pasta

Serves 4

Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces Lundberg Brown Rice Penne Pasta
  • Amy’s Organic Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 leeks, sliced
  • ½ sweet onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/3 cup fresh sage, chopped
  • 2 bunches rainbow Swiss chard, stems and leaves separated; cut crosswise into 1 inch slices
  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. of chili powder
  • ¼ tsp. of nutmeg
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions

    1. Cook pasta according to directions on package. Drain, reserve ½ cup of the cooking water.
    2. Meanwhile, heat 2 cups of Amy’s Organic Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce in a small pot over medium-low heat; stir frequently.
    3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add leeks and onion; cook until they begin to soften, approximately 5 minutes.  Add garlic and sage; stir for 3 minutes.
    4. Add Swiss chard, beans and sweet potato; cook covered until potatoes are tender, approximately 10 minutes.
    5. Add the reserved cooking water; simmer and stir until potatoes are tender, approximately 5 minutes.
    6. Add cooked pasta, balsamic vinegar, chili powder and nutmeg.  Gently toss to combine.  Sprinkle with fresh basil, crushed red pepper, golden raisins, sea salt and black pepper.
    7. Divide the cooked pasta among individual bowls.  Top with Swiss chard mixture and Amy’s Organic Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce.
    8. Serve warm or cold.
    9. Enjoy!

Be Sure To Check Out My Eggland’s Best eggs recipe on the Eggland’s Best website!

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Bean Crepes and Mary’s Gone Crackers Gluten-Free Boat Cruise

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending a fabulous boat cruise hosted by the famous Mary from Mary’s Gone Crackers.  I met Mary on Sunday and she invited me to this amazing event, which was filled with gluten-free goodies from her Mary’s Gone Crackers line.  I think I pretty much ate my body weight in her tasty gluten-free crackers, sticks and cookies…but it was well worth it!

Since the cruise didn’t take off until 9 PM, I decided to bring a gluten-free snack to hold me over until we set sail on the Hudson River.  I simply created these crepes on Sunday evening and packed them with me for work yesterday…then nibbled on them on my way down to the piers.  What an amazing evening…a walk along the West Side Highway watching the sailboats ride by, the sun set, munching on my gluten-free crepes and then setting sail with my gal Mary from Mary’s Gone Crackers.

Thank you, Mary for a wonderful evening full of fun and tasty gluten-free treats!

Here is the recipe for my black bean crepes…feel free to top them with your condiment of choice.  Perhaps a nut butter, Greek yogurt, guacamole or salsa.  I’d love to hear how you enjoy them…

What topping would you choose for your crepe?

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Bean Crepes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups black beans, cooked
  • 1 cup wild rice, cooked
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Pinch of curry powder
  • Grapeseed oil, for cooking

Directions

  • In a food processor or blender, combine beans and rice with some warm water to create a batter consistency; add nutmeg, sea salt and curry powder, to taste.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat with grapeseed oil.
  • Transfer batter to hot skillet until the batter fills the skillet completely.
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes or until slightly browned. Flip and cook for an additional minute.
  • Continue with remaining batter.
  • Serve as a breakfast wrap with tofu or eggs; a lunchtime sandwich wrap or an evening dessert topped with fresh fruit and agave nectar.
  • Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Chicken Noodle Soup

There’s nothing like a bowl of chicken noodle soup on a chilly February evening.  Last night I created a delicious gluten-free, dairy-free chicken n’ buckwheat noodle soup that warmed me up from the Manhattan chill. I tossed in some navy beans and my favorite dinosaur kale along with mushrooms and ginger for an exceptionally delectable soup.

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • 4 ounces buckwheat noodles
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried cilantro
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
  • 1 cup navy beans
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cups dinosaur kale, chopped
  • Dash of sea salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • Toppings: Organic corn tortilla chips, crushed; fresh basil, chopped; chili powder

Directions

  • Cook chicken over medium heat until fully cooked and no longer pink. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Prepare and cook buckwheat noodles according to package.  Drain and set aside.
  • In a large pot, combine water, dried herbs, spices and ginger.  Heat until water boils; add navy beans; cover and reduce to a simmer for 2 minutes.
  • Add mushrooms, kale and sea salt; cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add buckwheat noodles, chicken and oil; mix well.
  • Transfer to serving bowls. Top with organic corn chips, fresh basil and a sprinkle of chili powder.
  • Enjoy!

Superbowl Casserole

Ready for the big game on Sunday?

Here’s a quick and easy recipe that will have your Superbowl fans begging for more.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup gluten-free vegetable broth
  • 1 Roma tomato, sliced
  • 1 cup organic tomato sauce
  • 1 large sweet onion, finely diced
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. agave nectar
  • 1 cup SoyaKaas Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup SoyaKaas Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Jalapeno Cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/6 tsp. ground sage
  • Dash of sea salt and pepper
  • 2 cups shredded chicken or turkey
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups organic corn or rice chips
  • 4 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Toppings: Greek plain yogurt, guacamole, organic salsa

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, combine vegetable broth, tomato sauce, tomato slices, onions, scallions, olives, spices, agave nectar, sea salt and pepper to form a sauce.  Set aside.
  • Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.  Layer half of the chicken, then beans, then half of the sauce, Cheddar Cheese, Jalapeno Cheese and tortilla chips.
  • Repeat layers, ending with cheese on the top.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes or until casserole is bubbling and cooked.
  • Garnish with cilantro and top with a dollop of each: Greek plain yogurt, guacamole and salsa.
  • Enjoy the Game!

Get Smart n’ Get Snackin’…

Are You a Smart Snacker?  Here are a few of my tips to help you navigate through the snack drawer.  Be aware of those processed, store-bought ‘treats’ and opt for your own homemade, nutritious snack packed with vitamins and nutrients to keep you happy and healthy all day long.

nutttt

Traveling for the New Year? Pack some of my portable snacks to keep your tummy satisfied whether you’re in the car, on the plane or train…these healthy nibbles are sure to keep your taste buds happy and your belly trim…just in time for the New Year.

Happy New Years Eve!

Be Mindful of Why You are Eating.

Are you stressed? Thirsty? Not eating enough? Ask yourself these questions before you dig in.  Be sure to keep healthy snack options in your office for a quick go-to when you’re in need of a quick fix.  When eating your meals, plate it,  sit down and savor your food…chew each bite and relax.  Plating your food and sitting down will give you visual of how much you have consumed. Many of my clients eat breakfast standing up, lunch at their desks and dinner in front of the television, this will not only disrupt your digestion, but leaves you unsatisfied and yearning for more!

Portion Control.

Know your weaknesses and your triggers.  If you’re known to eat a box of cereal or cookies in one sitting-reach for your Ziploc bags as soon as you purchase these foods and make yourself portion controlled snacks.  This way, when you are in the mood for cereal or cookies, you can easily reach for one bag, sit down, put it on a plate or in a bowl and enjoy your snack without mindlessly over-doing it.

Don’t Skip Meals.

We all know the most important meal of the day is a hearty breakfast.  Be sure to follow up with a mid-morning snack, a filling lunch, an afternoon nibble and a nutritious dinner.  Do not skip meals; this will only set you up for failure.  Keep your blood sugar steady and your body and brain fueled by eating a 3 balanced meals with 2 snacks each day.  This may not work for everyone, many of my clients prefer to have 3 meals and a dessert or they have learned that eating mini-meals throughout the day works for them.  Whatever works for you is what you should stick to-we’re all different people with different needs, therefore the is no cookie cutter way of how many meals and snacks you should be eating each day.  Just be sure that you feel energized and satisfied; if you are hungry, reach for a smart, healthy option.


Decipher Between Snacks and Treats.

Those ‘100 calorie’ packs that you see in the food store are not snacks–they’re treats! Take a looksy at the nutrition facts and ingredients- you’ll be surprised by the amount of sugar and additives in each little pouch.  Instead of reaching for processed treats, opt for a more nutritious whole food option such as a whole grain cracker with cheese, a small Greek yogurt with apple slices or a banana with nut butter.


Don’t Wait Until Your Tummy is Rumblin’.

I encourage my clients to eat every 3 to 5 hours.  If you let yourself go any longer, you can damage your day and set yourself up for an overeating fest.


Reach for Lean Protein, Good Fats, Fruits and Veggies.

When you eat a snack of protein, healthy fat and produce you can achieve a satisfied feeling rather than reaching for a sugar-laden treat.  Try pairing a nut butter atop celery, a few slices of cheese with an apple or a handful of pistachios and grapes.


Cook in Bulk for Easy Prep.

Purchase store bought rotisserie chicken and you can easily toss it into your morning omelet, afternoon chicken salad sandwich and evening pasta  dish.  On a Sunday evening, try to cook up a batch of inexpensive pantry staples such as potatoes, rice, pasta and beans.  Store leftovers in the fridge for the week in Tupperware containers, therefore when you are ready to eat, you can simply reach for these precooked foods and whip up a nutritious snack meal in no time.


Have Fun, Get Creative
.

Eating should not be a chore; take a look at my On-the-go-Snacks and More Snacks for healthy ideas between meals.  Don’t be afraid to try new things, instead of a peanut butter and jelly white bread sandwich, opt for a whole grain bread with all natural nut butter and jelly without added sugars.

Take a look at Cooking Light Magazine’s ’10 Healthy Habits in 2010′ for some great ways to kick off your New Year on the right foot.

In The News…

A&P Features Printable Coupons

Safety of Food Spotty at Airports

Gluten-Free Menus Make Their Way to Small Towns

USDA Program Aims To Simplify Foods’ Nutritional Values

Have a safe and enjoyable New Years Eve!

Goin’ Gluten-Free…and $25 Gift-Certificate Giveaway

Avoiding gluten, the protein found in wheat as well as grains rye and barley can be a challenge, but there’s no need to wave goodbye to your favorite foods.  If you suffer from gluten intolerance or Celiac disease, you can build your diet from vegetables, rice, corn, legumes, fruit and other tasty gluten-free foods.


Vegetables, Fruits, Seeds and Nuts

All fresh vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts are gluten-free.  Be aware of packaged, processed vegetables and fruits such as jellies, preserves, soups, nut butters and processed, pre-made meals, which may contain gluten.  You can easily prepare homemade soups, salsa, smoothies, dressings, marinades, parfaits, casseroles, salads, chutneys and nut or seed butters using fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts in their natural state.  Green, leafy veggies such as kale, collards, chard and spinach are great options steamed as a side dish or tossed into a green smoothie.  Hearty veggies such as carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, squashes, eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower and legumes are perfect for making chili or stew, while artichokes, avocado, asparagus, celery, Brussels sprouts, corn, peas and peppers are tasty in a stir-fry or stuffing.  As for fruits: apples, oranges, grapefruit, berries, melons, bananas, pears and peaches are a flavorsome addition to smoothies, desserts or parfaits with yogurt and nuts.  Try freezing grapes for a satisfying, refreshing treat and create a homemade trail mix using nuts, seeds and dried fruit for a convenient snack.  Looking for flavor? Fresh herbs add a powerful aroma and zesty taste to any dish; toss rosemary into marinades or cilantro into gazpacho.

Dairy, Eggs, Meat

Eggs and meats are gluten-free, however, be sure to read the ingredient list for processed meats such as luncheon meats, breaded variations and sausage, which may contain traces of gluten.  Dairy is gluten-free, as well, however processed dairy such as ice creams, yogurts and butters may contain gluten.  Enjoy any of the following in their natural state: chicken, beef, bison, ham, turkey, eggs, seafood, lamb, fish and wild game.

Flours and Grains

All forms of wheat, barley and rye contain gluten; however, there is a vast array of naturally gluten-free flours available, which are created from beans, seeds or nuts.  Oats are naturally gluten-free, however, cross-contamination may occur during processing, therefore purchase oats with the certified gluten-free label.  The following gluten-free flours and grains can be enjoyed guilt-free: rice, buckwheat, teff, corn flour, corn meal, lentils, flax seed, potato, polenta, millet, soy flour, tapioca, quinoa, amaranth, almond meal, arrowroot and gluten-free flour blends.  These gluten-free options require easy prep and can be used to create a hot breakfast, casserole, stir-fry or dessert.  If you have trouble adjusting to gluten-free varieties, try adding fruit puree such as canned pumpkin or prune to moisten and add flavor.

As a rule of thumb, steer clear of processed foods and reach for foods as close to the original source as possible.  Using fresh ingredients rather than pre-made, processed options is a safe way to ensure a gluten-free lifestyle.  Your best bet is to prepare meals at home so you have control over the ingredients and ensure there is no cross-contamination with gluten.


Regarding my $25 Give Certificate, the nice folks over at Open Sky are offering a limited time $25 Gift Certificate Promotion…so head on over to Open Sky and check out my fabulous products to use your $25 free gift certificate.   Here’s the information you’ll need to get shoppin’ at Open Sky and receive your $25 certificate:

The Healthy Apple’s coupon code is: talli2509

Rules:
–          $25 off coupon
–          Good for any OpenSky item
–          No minimum purchase
–          Free shipping
–          Limit one per customer
–          Starts: Monday, November 30, 2009