Ingredients NOT found in a Fiber One bar

Ingredients NOT found in an Oats & Chocolate Fiber One bar

Fiber is my number one favorite geeky dietitian topic, and having recently been diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, perhaps now more than ever it is important to me.

Looking back at the blog, it seems like my post on the Fiber One bars has been one of the most popular posts on my blog since I started it. I can’t believe that was 2009, but I thought it was worth a revisit and see if anything had changed.

For the record, I still have never tried the bar, but I can say it seems like patients and clients are definitely bringing it up less than they did 10 years ago, so perhaps popularity is waning? I’m sure the Kind bar has taken some of it’s market share and perhaps with good reason…

So anyway, here goes again. This time I plan to break it down into a few posts based on ingredient since there’s really a lot to say about each and every one, why not take our time?

1 serving of a Fiber One “Oats and Chocolate” bar is 40 g

140 calories, 4 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 90 mg sodium, 29 g carbohydrate, 9 g fiber, 9 g total sugar (a little more than 2 teaspoons), 2 g protein

(Only changes here are an increase in saturated fat by .5 gram, an increase in sodium by 10mg, and a decrease of sugar by 1 grams)

So, it still does seem to have  a good bit of fiber. But, where is the fiber coming from? The first ingredient is chicory root extract. Since, ingredients are required to be listed in the order of their predominance in a product, this means that there is more chicory root extract by weight, than anything else in the product.

So what is chicory root extract? Chicory root extract is also known as inulin. Inulin is known as a prebiotic, meaning it’s good for your digestive system.

There is still some question though as to whether inulin offers the same benefits as dietary fiber.

Dietary fiber is the kind we get naturally from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes etc. The health benefits of dietary fiber are promoting satiety, reducing cholesterol, improving bowel regularity and even promoting stable blood sugar levels.

The Center for Science in Public Interest (CSPI) has requested that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans be updated to advise consumers to differentiate between the different types of fibers when choosing foods. This would mean on the food label you might see “X grams of processed fiber per serving.” You can access CSPI’s most recent commentary here: Can fiber help keep you regular?.

Additionally, the FDA recently released  The Declaration of Certain Isolated or Synthetic Non-Digestible Carbohydrates as Dietary Fiber on Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels: Guidance for Industry.

There was a very recent journal article “Effect of chicory inulin-type fructan–containing snack bars on the human gut microbiota in low dietary fiber consumers in a randomized crossover trial” that concluded in healthy adults, adding 3 or 7 g inulin-type fructans (ITF) to snack bars increased Bifidobacterium, a beneficial member of the gut microbial community. While that seems promising, you have to look at the source of the info, two of the authors actually work for General Mills, which is a bit of a red flag.

Stay tuned for the next ingredient, which is NOW called whole grain oats (formerly referred to as “rolled oats,” and ten years later takes the second spot on the ingredients list away from chocolate chips with confectioners shellac.)

How do you feel about inulin? Does it help or hurt your digestive system or have you not noticed an effect either way? Let me know in the comments section.

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A little herbal inspiration from the burgeoning herb garden inspired to this simple delicious and healthy quickie dinner. Grabbed some chives, basil, thyme, parsley and/or cilantro and pulsed it altogether with s little bit of dijon mustard and a little bit of lime juice with a splash of sesame oil in the mini Cuisinart.

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I had some scallops, not so much fresh as recently purchased in one of those shrink wrap packages from the local Korean grocery store, and maybe hanging out in my fridge just a little too long…They smelled okay though, so onward and upwards.

Made a quick marinade of sesame oil, lime juice, ginger and garlic and let the scallops hang out in there for a few minutes.

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Prior to starting the saute, also cut up some veggies as a nice accompaniment to the scallops. Peppers, onions, zucchinis, nice round circle cuts to imitate a “pasta” side dish.

After a 3-5 minute saute of the scallops, plated with a drizzle of some herbal pesto and side of veggies, totally delicious and satisfying.

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Finished product is high in protein, low in calories and off the charts in taste.

Red peppers, carrots and green beans make this salad super crunchy

Red peppers, carrots and green beans make this salad super crunchy

One can of “hearts of palms” has 50 calories. The other ingredients are low in calories and carbohydrates, but, together they make a very hearty salad. Blanching the carrots and green beans ensures they will be super crunchy.

Dressed with some red wine vinegar, sesame oil, lime juice and salt and pepper to taste, you can utilize this all week. The finer the chop, the more you can dip/salsaish you can go, the bigger the chop the more you can use it as a base for other toppings. I’ll be using it tomorrow over a bed of romaine lettuce and topped with 4 ounces of leftover chicken.

 

 

 

Light and refreshing summer salad

Inspired by one of my favorite Tyler Florence recipes, Zucchini Carpaccio, I thought I’d try to make my own version using on of my favorite vegetables, the radish. Mr. Florence’s dish is an amazing appetizer salad which is very light, especially in the summer. It also has  nice tangy/savory taste which is somewhat addictive.

My version includes:

1 bunch of radishes (the bigger the radish, the better), thinly sliced by a mandoline

Olive oil

Juice of 1/2 fresh lime (lemon is preferable, but, I was all out)

Fresh chives

Crumbled blue cheese (~1/4 cup)

Arrange radish thins in 1 layer on a plate. Drizzle over the olive oil and lime juice and scatter with chives. I sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt.  Allow the radishes to sit for about 10 minutes in the refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator, sprinkle on blue cheese (or cheese of your choice), and enjoy!

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Easy, high fiber side dish

In an effort to maximize my day off yesterday, I thought I would “make” a side dish for my sister’s BBQ while I was also enjoying some outside activities.

I have been on a bit of a lentil bender lately, so I thought I would use the French Green Lentils I had on hand to make a side dish. French Green Lentils keep their shape and texture a bit better than some of the other lentil options, so I figured they would travel well and pair with whatever BBQ options awaited us.

In a slow cooker I threw:

1 cup of dried french green lentils

2 cups of vegetable stock

I left these on high for awhile (maybe 1 1/2 hours), and then I added:

1 medium red onion (chopped)

1/2 red pepper chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

Dash of salt

Chopped fresh herbs (Savory, thyme, sage, basil, chives)

I stirred these together and let them sit another 45 minutes or so (long enough to take a shower and get ready)

To finish them off, I added a splash of ponzu, red wine vinegar, white pepper, cumin and Spanish smoked paprika.

I did heat them up once we got to the party and they definitely held their shape and the flavors get a chance to mix further.

This dish is a nice alternative to the typical higher fat, low nutrition BBQ dishes. Plus, lentils are loaded with satisfying fiber and protein and low in calories, you can’t go wrong!

19 calories in an entire cup of rashishes

Over this past winter, I may have gotten a little carried a away with Food Should Taste Good – Sweet Potato Chips. While I wholeheartedly endorse these chips (12 chips = 140 calories, 3 grams of fiber), I’m thinking it is time to rein it in a bit now that bathing suit season is fast approaching.

Enter my formerly “forgotten” vegetable, the humble radish. My latest use for radishes is as a replacement for a chip. They are crisp and peppery, and great as a dip for hummus.

1 cup of radish slices for a measly 19 calories!

The key to getting a radish to impersonate a chip is to slice it thinly. I do use a mandoline on the second setting (3mm) so that the radish is thick enough to not wobble and allows it to support a nice amount of hummus. It’s also a good idea to choose pretty hefty size radishes if you can.

But, here’s the really good news about radishes. 1 cup of sliced radishes has about 19 calories! In terms of vitamins and minerals, this amount would give you a nice bump of potassium (270 mg) and a good amount of vitamin C (17 mg), not to mention some serious hits of B vitamins for the day.

These radishes are guilt-free, cheap, and a healthy replacement for our usual dippers.

What are your favorite healthy dippers?

Best hot sauce ever

Best hot sauce ever

There was a time (several years ago) when I thought I was one of the few people who knew about the deliciously spicy chili sauce sriracha. But, lately, I’m thinking it’s becoming decidedly mainstream, at least among the food cognoscenti (and deservedly so).

In fact just a couple of weeks ago it was the focus of an article in the New York Times, and yesterday on Mark Bittman’s blog, Bitten. I’m sure if Martha Steward hasn’t featured it on her show yet, its just a matter of time and I fully expect it to become one of Oprah’s favorite things.

Sriracha has roughly 141,375 fans on Facebook, while mayonnaise has 3,843 fans and mustard has a paltry 3,034 fans. Not sure what this means (market research people?) but, clearly Sriracha has a big following!

I am also a fan of the chili garlic sauce Huy Fong Foods makes, it definitely deliver more in terms of texture and if you are a garlic fan like me (which has a decent

Sriracha's More Complex Brother

Sriracha's More Complex Brother

Facebook following as well) this might be your sauce of choice. But, the squeeze bottle IS super convenient…

In terms of nutrition, both sauces are low calorie. One teaspoon has roughly 5 calories and 100 milligrams of sodium. Even if you are a die hard hot sauce fanatic, you probably would not end up using much more than a teaspoon per serving.

I’ve also mentioned before the potential health benefits of capsaicin (see Huevos Portobellos), which is the active ingredient in chili peppers, and may promote increased metabolism (i.e. weight loss). The jury is not out on whether this effect actually exists or is large enough to produce results, but, I do think there is also something to the fact that when you use something so spicy, you may end up eating less on account of the numbing sensation that occurs.

In any event, Sriracha is a tasty, low calorie condiment, and I personally use it at least one meal per day. I can’t drink soup without it anymore, and it defintely wins hands down over Tabasco (a former favorite).

Have you ever tried Sriracha? If so, what’s your favorite way to use it?

As the temperature rises, I find myself craving fresh chilled soups more than ever. Soups are a great way to get a ton of vegetables into one serving of food. If you a a raw food fan, this recipe is definitely for you, though it is appealing to everyone’s palate.

The recipe that follows is adapted from the book, “100-Calorie Snack Cookbook” by Sally Sampson.

100 calories per serving!

100 calories per serving!

Ingredients (Serves 5, about 2 cups per serving)

2 small English cucumbers, diced

2 beefsteak or other large tomatoes, cored and diced

1 small read onion, coarsely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded and finely chopped

1 tablespoon sherry or red wine vinegar

3 1/2 cups low sodium tomato or v8 juice

1 cup water

1/3 cup chopped fresh dill, cilantro or basil

1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Method

  1. Place cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, garlic and peppers in a bowl and toss to combine.
  2. Remove half the mixture and place in bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse 2 to 3 times until chopped and combined. Return to bowl
  3. Add the vinegar, tomato juice and water and stir to combine
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight. Serve garnished with herbs (optional) and feta.

Nutrition Information (per serving)

Calories: 103

Fat: 2.1 g

Cholesterol: 7mg

Sodium; 110 mg

Carbohydrates: 19.4 g

Fiber: 3.4 g

Protein: 4.5 g

Besides all of those good statistics, you will most definitely get more than a days supply of vitamin C, a big boost of potassium, lots of beta carotene and lycopene, and many other nutrients. This soup will also quench your thirst on account of all the additional water in the vegetables.

Diet Tip:

Having a bowl of soup prior to a meal actually causes you to eat less on account of your stomach being full of all tha fluid and triggering satiety signals to the brain.

Doble Chocolate Biscotti

Double Chocolate Biscotti

I talk a lot on my blog about drinking coffee, and I have to admit I do like to dunk things in my coffee every now and again. Sometimes, when I am in Starbucks I am so tempted to buy those biscotti they have at the counter wrapped in plastic, to dunk in my coffee of course.

I don’t buy them though because I know biscotti are relatively easy to make, and when you make them yourself, you can make them as low fat and/or low calorie as you like.

This weekend I adapted a recipe which originally appeared in Cooking Light, December 2008. They will definitely satisfy your chocolate cravings. I changed a few things:

  1. Replaced the white flour with whole wheat flour (increases fiber, lowers the calories)
  2. Used half the amount of sugar, and used brown sugar instead of white sugar (less calories, tastes better)
  3. Added 1/4 cup dried tart cherries and zest of one orange (adds fragrance and texture)
  4. Added some oil and milk to compensate for the dryness of the whole wheat flour (if you don’t want to use oil, you could use yogurt or applesauce, just to add more moisture)
Here’s the recipe with the above-mentioned adaptations

Double Chocolate and Tart Cherry Biscotti

Yield

3 dozen (serving size: 2 biscotti)

Ingredients

  • 6.75  ounces  whole wheat flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2  cup  sugar
  • 1/2  cup  unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2  cup  semisweet chocolate minichips
  • 1/4 cup dried tart montmorency cherries (chopped)
  • 1/2  teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • Zest of one orange
  • 2  large eggs
  • 1  large egg white
  • 2 tablespoons milk (if necessary)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil (if necessary)
  • Cooking spray

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 7 ingredients (through salt) in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine vanilla, zest, eggs, and egg white in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture to egg mixture; stir until well blended. If dough is too dry, add two tablespoons of skim milk and/or canola oil. Divide dough in half. Turn dough out onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. With floured hands, shape each dough half into a 12-inch-long roll; pat to 1/2-inch thickness.

3. Bake at 350° for 22 minutes. Remove rolls from baking sheet; cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Cut each roll diagonally into 18 (1/2-inch) slices. Carefully stand slices upright on baking sheet. Bake biscotti an additional 15 minutes or until almost firm (biscotti will be slightly soft in center but will harden as they cool). Remove biscotti from baking sheet; cool completely on wire rack.

Cooking Tip:

Use parchment paper to line the baking sheet, it will prevent the biscotti from burning and it keeps the pan clean.

Nutritional Information Per Serving

Calories: 107
Fat: 3 g (sat 1g, mono 1.2 g, poly 0.32 g)
Protein: 2.8 g
Carbohydrate: 18 g
Fiber: 1.2 g
Cholesterol: 24mg
Sodium: 125mg
While my changes did not change the original nutrition information too dramatically, I prefer to use less sugar whenever possible. And in this case, I was able to add some antioxidants to the mix, as well as some additional mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
To cut even more calories you could use a sugar substitute, and use egg whites instead of the whole eggs. When I make these again, I will probably add some nuts as well because I like a little crunch in my biscotti.
1 serving is 4 falafel balls, doesn't it look good?

1 serving is 4 falafel balls, doesn't it look good?

If your local falafel joint is too far away and you’re not motivated to make your own falafel balls, all you need to do is take a trip to your local supermarket.

There you will find a product that just might satisfy your falafel cravings. Veggie Patch makes a product called Falafel Chickpea Balls, and at 180 calories per serving, you can eat them and not break the calorie bank.

They also have a very respectable 6 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein and 35% of the daily value for vitamin A. I’d like to see less sodium than its current 380 mg per serving, but its not enough to deter me altogether from the product. Having made falafel myself, I know that chickpeas require a bit of work when it comes to flavoring them, so, salt is definitely necessary.

They are well seasoned and taste authentic enough that your taste for falafel will be fulfilled.  Have them on top of a salad with some hummus or as a sandwich in a pita pocket. And don’t forget the hot sauce.