Always considered a vital nutrient, fiber is now being appreciated more than ever before. Its benefits are many—improved digestion, protection against cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and better weight control, to name a few. But to truly profit from fiber, it’s vital to get it from nutrient-packed foods like fruits and vegetables. How can you do this and still keep your dishes easy to prepare and absolutely delicious?
Now, dietitian and best-selling cookbook author Sandra Woodruff makes it simple to incorporate fiber into your diet. Filled with scrumptious fiber-rich recipes—including favorites like pizza and burgers—The Fabulous Fiber Cookbook makes it a breeze to benefit from fiber while creating great meals.
Can you have your fiber and love it, too? You can, with The Fabulous Fiber Cookbook.
1. A Fresh Look at Fiber, 5
2. Ingredients for Success, 19
3. Hors d’Oeuvres with a Difference, 39
4. Breakfast & Brunch, 53
5. Smart Sandwiches, 79
6. Soups That Satisfy, 99
7. Main Dish Salads, 119
8. Fiber-Rich Main Dishes, 141
9. Delightful Salads & Side Dishes, 165
10. Sweets & Treats, 189
Metric Conversion Tables, 205
As a registered dietitian and nutritionist, I have seen countless diets come and go, each touted as a miracle cure or fountain of youth. From low-fat to low-carb, vegetarian to omnivore, Mediterranean to Paleo, and everything in between, there is no shortage of diets to choose from. Yet we aren’t getting any healthier. This may be why the most frequent question I get from clients and acquaintences alike is, “What is the best diet?”
The truth is that many different diets or eating patterns can promote good health—but they
all have one thing in common: a foundation of fiber-rich foods. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds—these are the cornerstones of the tastiest and most healthful cuisines in the world. These are also the very same foods that are profoundly lacking in the Standard American Diet (SAD). That’s why The Fabulous Fiber Cookbook was written. This is not a book about dieting, although fiber-rich foods have been found to promote weight loss naturally. Rather, it is about enjoying wholesome and delicious fiber-rich foods and reaping the many benefits these foods have to offer.
I have long been inspired not only by the power of food as medicine but also by the power
of food to satisfy the senses, bring people together, and create lasting memories. Delicious food is surely one of life’s simplest and greatest pleasures. With this in mind, my goal in writing this book was to translate the latest scientific findings about food and nutrition into simple and tasty meals to nourish both body and soul. It is my hope that this book will inspire many wonderful meals and also help you achieve excellent health for many years to come.
Although the term “dietary fiber” did not exist before 1953, the health benefits of high-fiber
foods have been recognized for over 2,000 years. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates noted the laxative effect of bread made from coarse whole wheat instead of refined wheat flour. Throughout the ensuing centuries, many others have attributed digestive health benefits to the fibrous residue, or “roughage,” found in whole plant foods.
It wasn’t until the 1970s, however, that scientists began to unravel the science behind fiber and understand that fiber’s benefits extend far beyond digestive health.
British researchers Drs. Hugh Trowell and Denis Burkitt observed that a number of diseases
seen in affluent Western societies were extremely rare or absent in rural African populations. They proposed that the fiber-rich diet of these groups protected them against a range of diseases, including diverticular disease, constipation, colon cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. The pair strongly criticized the modern habit of eating refined sugars and starches, which have been stripped of their fibrous, chewy coverings. They warned of the dangers of a fiber-depleted food supply, in which white flour, sugar, and meat crowded out whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
Dr. Burkitt and Dr. Trowell’s fiber hypothesis was soon extended by others who confirmed that people who ate fiber-rich diets, indeed, suffered far less from the diseases that plague the modern world. The question was: How could dietary fiber—a substance that does not leave the gastrointestinal tract and is not absorbed—confer these benefits?
Research over the past fifty years has shown that although fiber is not absorbed, it is far from
inert. It is now clear that there are many mechanisms by which fiber protects health. For
instance, fiber can lower blood cholesterol levels, modulate blood sugar levels, and increase feelings of fullness. Fiber is also a key food source for the “good bacteria” that reside in the colon. These bacteria produce substances that boost the immune system, fight inflammation, thwart cancer cells, and much more. As well, fiber-rich plant foods are loaded with nutrients and antioxidants that fight diseases in their own right.
Unfortunately, fiber is one of the most underconsumed nutrients in the modern diet. Most
people get only half of what is considered to be an adequate daily amount—a situation referred to as the “fiber gap.” Because fiber-depleted diets are so strongly linked to poor health, the committee tasked with updating the 2015 Dietary Guidelines classified fiber as a “nutrient of public health concern.”
Why are so many people deficient in fiber? Simply because we eat too few plant foods. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds provide fiber in abundance. Adding to the problem, many people find the topic of fiber to be way more confusing than it needs to be. What exactly is fiber? Why do we need it? How much do we need? What are the best sources? This confusion is, in part, due to a myriad of ways to define and classify fiber, not to mention a marketplace flooded with ultra-processed fiber-fortified foods. On top of that, the perception that high-fiber foods are boring or tasteless keeps some people stuck in a low-fiber rut.
The good news is that you can easily fill the fiber gap by including plenty of wholesome plant
foods in your daily meals. A good place to start is to fill at least half your plate with vegetables and fruits. You can also expand your repertoire of vegetables and fruits, try new ways to use whole grains, enjoy creative bean dishes, add a sprinkling of nuts or seeds to dishes, and so much more. You may be surprised to discover that you can improve your health by eating more of something instead of solely cutting things out. You may also find that filling up on fiber helps you achieve a healthier body weight without actually “dieting.” A 2015 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that people who simply aimed to eat at least 30 grams of fiber per day lost nearly five pounds over the course of a year. This was
about the same amount of weight that another group lost while following the more complex
American Heart Association diet, which requires measuring foods, cutting fat intake, and other dietary restrictions.
Keep in mind that there are some caveats to adopting a high-fiber diet, so it’s vitally important to do it right. It may be tempting to take a fiber supplement and be done with it or to rely on foods pumped up with added fiber. The problem is that products are not always what they seem to be. Moreover, the best evidence to date points to fiber from real foods, rather than isolated or synthetic fibers, as being protective against disease. This is likely due to the synergy of fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other components in whole plant foods.
The intention of this book is to simplify the science, sidestep the marketing gimmicks, and
enable you to reap the benefits of a fiber-rich diet. Here you will find many delicious ways to boost fiber intake naturally with a goal of maximizing health and wellness for years to come.
Chapter 1 takes a fresh look at fiber, explains what it is, why we need it, and where to find it.
You will find that fiber-rich food protects against virtually every aspect of chronic disease. Chapter 2 highlights foods that can fit into a healthy highfiber eating plan, offers smart substitutions for low-fiber foods and ingredients, and provides additional tips for preparing and selecting foods. The remainder of the book offers over 170 recipes that emphasize nutritious fiber-rich foods. From breakfast to dessert, main courses to sides, these dishes are not only easy to make but also easy to love. Each recipe includes Nutrition Facts—calorie,
carbohydrate, fiber, protein, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and calcium counts—so you can be sure your meals meet your individual nutritional needs and goals.
Beyond any doubt, research shows that a fiber-rich diet provides a myriad of health benefits,
from reducing the risk of chronic disease to better weight management to fostering a diverse
and robust microbiome. Moreover, a fiber-rich diet—with more plant foods, less meat, and fewer processed foods—will move you toward a cleaner way of eating and a more ecologically sustainable lifestyle. All things considered, the recommendation to consume a healthy amount of dietary fiber may turn out to be the most important nutritional recommendation of all.
It is my hope that the information provided in this book introduces you to some simple but
important changes that can make a real difference to your well-being and the well-being of your loved ones. I wish you many satisfying meals to come.