Fiber is your gastrointestinal tract’s best friend! and that means that it can make a big difference to your health.
What’s good about fiber?
- First, there’s the scrubbing effect. Eating fiber-rich foods like oats and fresh vegetables polishes up your digestive tract. This reduces your chances of colon cancer.
- A high fiber diet also encourages friendly intestinal microbes. Research increasingly shows that having a strong internal ecosystem helps you maintain a healthy weight and general good health. What’s more, since fiber-rich foods slow down the rate at which your system absorbs sugar, they can even help you avoid the health risks of eating that pumpkin pie.
- Finally, there’s the best-known benefit of a high-fiber diet: keeping your digestive system regular. Thanksgiving dinner with plenty of fiber is less likely to lead to uncomfortable consequences of overeating, even if you overindulge a little bit.
We don’t get enough fiber.
As we learn more about the gut’s role in health, we appreciate fiber even more. But we don’t eat nearly enough. Women should have at least 30 grams of fiber a day and men should have close to 50. Most Americans eat just about 10 grams of fiber each day.
This year, as you plan your Thanksgiving feast, think about fiber. You might think about cutting back on sugar or fat, but with fiber, more is better. And it takes a lot less willpower than cutting back!
Fiber in your feast.
- Serve plenty of fruits and vegetables. Maintain your traditions, but add some produce. Do you make gelatin salad? Add berries along with those marshmallows. Add a green salad to the meal and make fruit salad an option for dessert. Your guests will probably be happy to have those options.
- Add nuts to casseroles. Grated walnuts are a tastier and healthier stand-in for breadcrumbs. Sliced almonds will perk up your dressing. Sweet potato casserole is even more delicious with chopped pecans.
- Pick whole-grain breads. If you love your regular hot rolls, add oat muffins or whole wheat buns as a second choice.
- Use almond meal in baked goods in place of some flour. You can substitute almond meal cup for cup in cakes and cookies. Try replacing one third of your flour with almond meal, or check out our all-nut cake recipe below.
- Add fruit, vegetables, and nuts to dressing and stuffing. Use your regular recipe, and stir in chopped celery, cranberries, mushrooms, chopped apples, diced onions, bell pepper strips, and your favorite chopped nuts. If you bake dressing in a casserole dish, consider making one pan “plain” and gussy the other one up with fiber-rich goodies.
- Choose fruit or nut pies over cream pies. Pecan pie, apple pie with nut topping, pear and cranberry tart, pumpkin pie — all these traditional fall choices contain good amounts of fiber. Try recipes that use lots of fruit instead of canned filling.
- Make nut-based crusts and toppings. Explore recipes that use nuts instead of or along with flour. Be sure to let guests know there are nuts in your desserts if you aren’t sure about allergies.
- Add grated apples or carrots to cakes. These ingredients add moisture and sweetness as well as fiber.
- Don’t peel those fruits and veggies. Unpeeled apples in your Waldorf Salad or unpeeled potatoes in your roast potatoes look and taste great!
- Replace sour cream dips with guacamole or hummus. These popular dips bring you 15 grams of fiber for hummus and 8 grams for guacamole in a typical serving. Classic onion dip has zero grams of fiber.
Here are a couple of high-fiber recipes that will look great on your Thanksgiving table… and taste yummy, too!
Super Veggie Casserole
This traditional favorite has been powered up with 17 grams of fiber in vegetables and nuts. You can feel confident that the cheesy, buttery flavor — not the fiber boost — will be the thing everyone notices.
2 eggs, beaten
1 sleeve crackers, crushed (we used Ritz crackers)
1 c. shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 T olive oil
1 yellow squash, sliced thinly
1/4 c. minced onion
1/4 c. diced bell pepper
1/4 c. grated carrots
1/4 c. cauliflower crumbles (buy in bags at the grocery or cut cauliflower into “rice”)
1/4 c. grated walnuts
1 T mixed herbs (we used herbes de Provence)
Mix the eggs, cracker crumbs, and cheese together in a large mixing bowl. Saute vegetables in olive oil till they’re crisp-tender. Stir vegetables into egg mixture. Pour into greased baking dish and top with walnuts.
Bake casserole at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, till set in the middle. Serve hot.
Chocolate Nut Torte
Chocolate cake is never going to be a health food, but this cake’s pecans brings 10 grams of fiber to the party for each layer. Make a 2-layer torte and share it among eight people, and you’ll serve twice the fiber content of an average cake. One layer gives you a luscious, tiny serving of dessert. Plus, you can mix it up in a blender, so it’s fast and easy!
For each layer:
1 c. sugar
1 c. pecans
1 T self-rising flour
1/3 c. unsweetened baking cocoa
For the filling and glaze:
1/2 c. seedless raspberry jam
1/2 c. chocolate chips
2 T butter
Put eggs into a blender and blend on medium till fully mixed. Gradually pour in sugar, flour, and cocoa powder without stopping blender. Pour into a cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, till a cake tester comes out clean.
Repeat for each layer you want to make. You cannot double the recipe and mix it in a blender, but you can bake all layers together.
Let cake cool and turn out from pan. Cool completely. Spread jam on the top of each layer. Stack layers. Melt chocolate and butter together and pour over the top of the torte. Allow to set before serving.