How Much Fiber Do We Really Need?

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According to statistics, the average adult consumes roughly 15 grams of fiber each day, yet in order to prevent digestive and intestinal tract related health concerns and avoid constipation, the Institute of Medicine advises the average adult to consume between 25-38g of fiber every day.

It is important to keep in mind that each and every one of us has unique dietary needs. In some cases, those with acute digestive problems such as loose stools, diarrhea, stomach pain, and chronic gas and bloating are sometimes advised to reduce the amount of fiber in their diet temporarily—until the root of the problem is properly addressed by a qualified health practitioner.

There are several types of fiber that function differently and provide us with distinct health benefits, but we can categorize them into two main categories – soluble and insoluble fiber. Both types of fiber are found in varying degrees in fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains.

Soluble Fiber helps slows digestion and allows the body to absorb nutrients from food. This type of fiber can help lower blood cholesterol and control blood sugar levels.

–> Foods High in Soluble Fiber Include: Oatmeal, blueberries, cucumbers, beets, quinoa, strawberries, celery, squash, nuts, apples, carrots, flax seeds, chia seeds oranges, apricots, kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas, hemp seeds, pears, asparagus, sunflower seeds, almonds, lentils

Insoluble Fiber is considered “gut-healthy fiber” because they add bulk to the stool and can help prevent constipation. Insoluble fiber also helps us feel fuller longer and can help cut cravings.

–> Foods High in Insoluble Fiber Include: Whole grains, barley, dark leafy vegetables, kale, spinach, nuts and seeds, oats, flax seeds, broccoli, zucchini, turnip, cabbage, celery, carrots, Brussels sprouts

In order to maintain optimal health and bowel regularity, these are the amounts of fiber we should aim for each day.

CHILDREN:
Children 1-3: 19g
Children 4-8: 25g
Girls 9-13: 26g
Boys 9-13: 31g
Girls 14-19: 26 g
Boys 14-19: 38g

ADULTS:
Women 50 and younger: 26g
Men 50 and younger: 38g
Women 51 and older : 21g
Men 51 and older: 30g

Why Fiber Needs Vary
Both adults and children should aim for 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed. In general, men need more fiber than women because their calorie requirements are often higher. An adult woman’s calorie needs may only be 1,800 – 2,000 calories per day, which puts her fiber requirements between 26-28 grams a day. As a person ages, their calorie intake is often lower. Therefore, fiber requirements might decrease as a person gets older, depending on how active they are and their state of health.

Here is an example of what 26 grams of fiber would look like in one day.

1/2  cup rolled oats = 4.5g
1 apple = 3.8g
1/2 cup of blueberries = 2g
3 brazil nuts = 1.2g
1 Tbsp. ground flax seeds = 2g
1 cup of broccoli = 4g
1 medium, raw carrot = 1.7g
2 Tbsp. hemp seeds = 2g
1/2 cup of long grain brown rice = 2g
1/2 cup of green beans = 2g
1 cup of romaine lettuce = 1.5g

To put this in perspective, a high fiber meal plan might look something like the example below. Keep in mind, this is only an example of how to add more fiber to each meal, and does not take into account any other nutritional needs, or foods you might add to the meals.

EXAMPLE OF A HIGH FIBER MEAL PLAN

Breakfast
Rolled oats with blueberries, almond milk and flax seeds
Snack
1 apple with 3 brazil nuts
Lunch
Broccoli salad with shredded carrot and hemp seeds
Dinner
Brown rice with green beans and a leafy green salad
Total: 26 grams of fiber

BENEFITS OF A HIGH FIBER DIET
- Fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels
- Promotes weight loss
- Supports good gut bacteria
- Prevents constipation
- Reduces the risk of colon cancer, hemorrhoids, diverticulitis and heart disease

Sources:
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/Fiber-and-Childrens-Diets_UCM_305981_Article.jsp

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/fiber-how-much-do-you-needhttp://healthyeating.sfgate.com/calculate-much-fiber-one-needs-day-4814.html

http://www.nationalfibercouncil.org/food_chart.shtml

http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000006000000000000000-w.html

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/high-fiber-foods/art-20050948

Maple Pecan Pumpkin Pie With Coconut Whipped Cream

This recipe uses agar-agar for both the coconut whipped cream, as well as the pie filling. While the agar-agar is not completely necessary for the filling, it does help to solidify the consistency, since no eggs or other binders are being used. The agar-agar however, is an integral part of the whipped cream recipe, and the ingredient that allows it to be solid at room temperature.

Agar-agar is a gelatinous substance obtained from seaweed, and is often used as a vegetarian substitute for gelatin, or as a binding agent in baking. It is usually seen abbreviated as agar. It can often be found in Asian grocery stores, health food stores, bulk food stores, or purchased online. One place I never find it, is at traditional baking supply stores. From my experience in trying to hunt it down, you are best to start with health food stores, or buy it online.

Agar comes in either powdered form or flakes. If you are using the agar flakes in the whipped cream, you will want to strain the mixture at step #6, to remove any gritty pieces that might not have dissolved. The powdered agar will dissolve completely, therefore, you do not need to strain the mixture if using the agar powder. If you are using the agar flakes in the filling, it does not need to be strained. The agar flakes will dissolve completely when the pie is baked.

* Please note, the whipped cream needs time to set in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours. I usually let mine sit overnight. It is perfectly alright to make the whipped cream the day before. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 7 days with the same texture and consistency. The recipe for the whipped cream is listed at the bottom of this post.

The measurements for the agar are slightly different depending on whether you use the agar powder or flakes. Follow the recipe accordingly.

pie

Maple Pecan Pumpkin Pie with Coconut Whipped Cream
Gluten-free/Vegan
*makes one large pie

Step #1 for the filling (only if using agar)
If you are not using agar in the filling, skip this step and add the pumpkin puree and coconut cream at step #2 of the filling directions.

Begin by combining the agar, coconut cream and pumpkin puree, and letting it sit for 30 minutes while you make the crust and prepare the other filling ingredients. Follow the instructions below.

2 ¼ cups pumpkin puree
1/4 coconut cream. I use Wilderness Family Naturals: http://ow.ly/EbSjs
2 Tbsp. agar flakes (or 1 tsp. agar powder)

1. Pour the coconut cream into a small pot, add the agar and whisk well.
2. Slowly warm the mixture over medium heat, stirring continuously until it reaches the boiling point.
3. Remove from heat, stir in the (unspiced)pumpkin puree and allow it to sit, uncovered for 30 minutes, or until cool. In the meantime, prepare the pie crust and measure out the remaining filling ingredients.

Maple Pecan Crust
2 cups raw pecans
1 cup rolled oats, processed into flour
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp. coconut sugar
3 Tbsp. ground flax meal
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Add the pecans to a food processor and grind. If the mixture becomes too dry, scrape down the sides of the food processor and add a bit of coconut oil.
3. Next, grind the oats into a fine powder.
4. Combine all ingredients together in a bowl and mix well.
5. Grease a pie pan and press the pecan crumble into the pan.
6. Bake for 10 minutes, then allow to cool before continuing.

Remaining Filling Ingredients:
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. sea salt

1. In a bowl, whisk together the maple syrup and corn starch.
2. Add the remaining spices and combine with the pumpkin puree and agar mixture. Blend well with electric beaters.
3. Pour the filling into the crust and smooth over.
4. In your preheated oven, bake at 350° F. for 35-45 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack for one hour before transferring to the refrigerator to set for another 3 hours.

Make sure the pie has cooled and set before adding the whipped cream.

Coconut Whipped Cream Recipe
This whipped cream can be added to the pie any way you like. It remains solid at room temperature so it can be piped into a variety of shapes or simply dolloped on top. It will not melt at room temperature and will completely hold its form.

Ingredients:
389 ml (14 fl oz)can full fat coconut milk (room temperature)
1 ½ Tbsp. agar flakes or 1 ½ tsp. agar powder
2 Tbsp. cornstarch, divided
2-3 Tbsp. raw cane sugar, or powdered sweetener of your choice (stevia, coconut sugar etc.)
1/2 cup almond milk (sweetened or unsweetened, your choice. I used unsweetened)
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Method:
1. Begin by combining the coconut milk, almond milk and agar in a small pot. Whisk well, then allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
2. Stir in 1 Tbsp. of the cornstarch along with the sugar and blend until smooth.
3. Slowly bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring continuously until it reaches boiling point.
4. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally. Be careful not to overheat or burn the mixture.
5. Remove from heat and add the vanilla.
6. If you are using the agar flakes, strain the mixture into a glass bowl to remove any bits that haven’t fully dissolved.
7. Let the mixture cool at room temperature for 30-45 minutes then place in the refrigerator overnight (or for a minimum of 4 hours).
8. When the mixture has chilled, place in a food processor with 1 Tbsp. of cornstarch and process until smooth. You may adjust the sweetness at this point, if desired.

The whipped cream is ready to added to the pie at this stage. You can either add it to a piping bag and make rosettes or other designs, or simply dollop it on top.

Kale Pesto Beet Crust Pizza

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Kale Pesto Beet Crust Pizza

*Makes five 6″ thin crust pizzas
Gluten Free/Yeast Free/Vegan

Pizza Crust Ingredients:
1 medium beet, peeled and finely grated
1 cup chickpea flour
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
1½ cups water
1/4 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. Himalayan sea salt
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup coconut oil ghee (for cooking)

Method:
1. Add all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and whisk thoroughly.
2. Mix in the water to form a paste.
3. Stir in the lemon juice and grated beet, and combine well.
4. Pour the mixture into a blender and process until smooth.
5. Add a few drops of coconut oil to a large skillet on medium heat.
6. Drop about 1/4 cup of batter in the center of the pan and let it spread as though you are making a pancake. Watch for the surface to begin to bubble, then flip.
7. Cook on the other side for approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute.
8. Remove from pan, place on a cooling rack and continue making the rest.

Quick & Easy Kale Cashew Pesto
2 cups purple kale, loosely packed
1/4 cup cashews, soaked for 20 minutes
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup water
Pinch of salt

Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped and well combined.

Toppings:
Cherry tomatoes, sliced
Daiya cheese (or cheese of your choice)
Pea shoots
Freshly ground black pepper

 Assembling The Pizza
1. Preheat oven to 350°
2. Arrange the pizza crusts on a baking sheet.
3. Spread a layer of kale pesto followed by the toppings of your choice.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, then remove from oven and cool on a cooling rack before serving.

Mini Pecan Pumpkin Pie Tarts

Mini pecan pumpkin pie tarts

Mini Pecan Pumpkin Pie Tarts (Gluten-free/Vegan)
* Makes 12

To convert this recipe to make a singular pie, instead of individual tarts, simply cut the crust recipe in half.

Maple Pecan Crust
4 cups raw pecans
2 cups rolled oats, processed into flour
2 Tbsp. agar power (not necessary, but helps the crust set)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/3 cup ground flax meal
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Add the pecans to a food processor and grind until finely chopped. If the mixture becomes too dry, scrape down the sides of the food processor, add a bit of coconut oil and continue.
3. Next, grind the oats into a fine powder.
4. Combine all ingredients together in a bowl and mix well.
5. To form the individual tart crusts, separate the mixture into 12 even sections.
6. Grease a muffin pan and press the pecan crumble firmly into pan to create the crust.
7. Bake for 10 minutes, then allow to cool before continuing.

Filling
2 ¼ cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup full-fat coconut cream
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. sea salt

Topping
1/4 cup chopped pecans
Maple syrup
Pinch of sea salt

Chop pecans and add to a bowl. Drizzle with a touch of maple syrup and a pinch of salt.

Method:
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup and cornstarch.
2. Using a separate bowl, mix together all other ingredients, then combine with the maple syrup and cornstarch.
3. Pour the filling into the individual pie crusts, and add the topping, if desired.
4. Bake for 30-40 minutes, then remove from oven and place on cooling rack for one hour.
5. Transfer to the refrigerator for a minimum of one hour to allow them to set.

Spicy Garam Masala Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin seeds

Ingredients:
Fresh pumpkin seeds, washed and drained
½ Tbsp. garam masala
¼ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. sea salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
½ Tbsp. maple syrup

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Clean and drain the pumpkin seeds, and pat dry with a paper towel.
3. In a bowl, mix the spices and maple syrup together.
4. Add the seeds to the bowl of spices, coating well.
5. Spread the seeds out evenly on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Check often to make sure they don’t burn.

* Garam masala is a blend of ground spices common in North Indian and other South Asian cuisines. It can be found pre-made in the spice section of many grocery or bulk food stores, or you can make your own using the recipe below.

Homemade Garam Masala Recipe
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 ½ tsp. ground coriander
1 ½ tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 ½ tsp. ground black pepper

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies (Gluten-Free/Vegan)

Ginger Bread Cookies

Dry Ingredients:
3 ¼ cups of gluten-free flour
For this recipe, I used following fail-safe mixture of five different gluten-free flours to achieve the perfect consistency.
To make these using regular flour, simply use 3¼ cups of all-purpose flour.

Gluten Free Flour Mixture:
1 ¼ cups tapioca flour
3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup millet flour
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup almond flour

Dry Ingredients:
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. sea salt
1 ½ tsp. agar powder
¼ cup coconut sugar
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
3 tsp. dark cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Wet Ingredients:
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup fancy molasses
1/3 cup cooking molasses

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Stir in the coconut oil and blend until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
3. Blend in the rest of the wet ingredients, mixing well.
4. Chill the dough for 15 minutes in the refrigerator.
5. Roll out small amounts of dough at a time,(about 1 cup) between two sheets of wax paper.
6. Cut out the shapes using cookies cutters. If the dough is too sticky, place back in the refrigerator for a bit longer.
7. Bake at 350° for 6-8 minutes on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.
8. Remove from the  oven and let cool for 10 minutes on the tray, then remove and cool for 2 hours on a cooling rack before icing.

Icing:
1 cup icing sugar
1 ½ tsp. corn starch
1 tsp. lemon juice
2-3 tsp. almond milk

1. Mix the icing sugar and corn starch, and set aside.
2. Take 1/2 cup of icing sugar and stir in the lemon juice and almond milk, mixing well.
3. Scrap down the sides, then add the remaining icing sugar and mix thoroughly.
If it is a bit watery, add a touch more icing sugar.

 

 

Kaniwa Chickpea Salad

Some health and nutrition experts don’t like using the term “superfood”, but when I find a food that has an excellent nutritional profile and tastes absolutely delicious, well, what else do I call it other than SUPER!

Like quinoa, kaniwa is often described as a grain, but it is actually a seed that is cooked and consumed like a grain. It is closely related to the highly popular quinoa, but does not contain a bitter saponin coating, a compound that requires rinsing before being cooked and eaten.

Kaniwa seeds are reddish-brown in color and are significantly smaller than quinoa, with a mild, nutty and slightly sweet flavor. Just like quinoa, there are many ways to incorporate it into meals. It can be enjoyed as a breakfast porridge, warm pilaf, or added to soup, stews or a stir-fry.

Nutrition Facts
• Kaniwa is exceptionally high in flavonoids! Flavonoids may help prevent cardiovascular disease, inhibit the growth of bacteria and viruses, and reduce the risk of certain inflammatory diseases.

• Kaniwa is an excellent source of high-quality protein. It contains all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Just ½ cup of cooked kaniwa contains 7g of protein!

• Kaniwa is a good source of iron, calcium, zinc and B vitamins.
That means it is good for the bones, immune and nervous system!

How to Cook: Combine 1 part kaniwa with 2 parts water, and simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes.

Kaniwa Chickpea Salad
½ cup kaniwa
1 cup water
½ cup chickpeas, cooked, drained and well rinsed
¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 Tbsp. hemp seeds

Dressing
½ tsp. garlic powder|
¼ tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of cumin
Pinch of clove
¼ tsp. curry powder
¼ tsp. Himalayan pink salt
½ Tbsp. coconut sugar
Juice from ½ lemon
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Bring water to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Boil for 5 minutes, then turn the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Allow the kaniwa to cool before adding the dressing other ingredients.
This recipe is best served when allowed to chill in the refrigerator for a few hours.


In my opinion, kaniwa is a SUPERFOOD definitely worth trying!