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Buffalo Wing Popcorn

6 Feb

Buffalo Wing Popcorn

Need a last minute Super Bowl snack that will rock your Super Sunday with fiber and fire? Look no further than Buffalo Wing Popcorn.

This spicy caramel popcorn from Bon Appetit is the easiest, most delicious way to incorporate that timeless whole grain: popcorn.

Popcorn by itself has 4 grams of fiber in 3 cups of air popped popcorn. Once you add all this butter and sugar though….you don’t wanna know!

Buffalo Wing Popcorn

Ingredients

  • Nonstick spray
  • 8 cups plain, popped popcorn (made from 1/2 cup kernels)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Original sauce
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Coat parchment paper and a large bowl with nonstick spray and add popcorn to bowl. Set aside baking sheet.
  • Bring sugar and 1/4 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil, swirling pan occasionally, until caramel is a deep amber color, 10-12 minutes.
  • Remove from heat; stir in hot sauce and butter (mixture will bubble vigorously). Return to a boil and cook another 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in salt, baking soda, and cayenne. Working quickly – and carefully because the caramel is very hot – pour caramel mixture over popcorn and toss to coat.
  • Spread popcorn on prepared baking sheet and bake, tossing once, until dry, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool.

 

 

Greger’s 5:1 Fiber Ratio Rule

18 Dec

Greger’s 5:1 Fiber Ratio Rule

A colleague recently turned me on to the daily videos published by Michael Greger, MD of nutritionfacts.org.

Dr. Greger’s entertaining video snippets do an outstanding job of summarizing the vast amount of published nutrition research, delving into what the studies really say (and don’t say) – and saving you a boatload of time by not having to navigate the peer-reviewed published articles in journals yourself.

I was intrigued by a video this week called “The Five to One Fiber Rule” – which basically advocates for every 5 grams of carbohydrate aim to get at least 1 gram of dietary fiber.

 

 

Example of a food that meets the 5:1 fiber rule – Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted 100% Whole Grain Bread - it has 15g carbohydrate and 3g dietary fiber for a perfect 5:1 ratio:

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Now, to be fair, Greger certainly isn’t the first one to advocate a carb:fiber ratio (see previous post on Harvard’s 10:1 ratio); but as a hard-line plant-based diet guru, he gets strict on the quality of your carbs.

This 5:1 ratio rule helps eliminate junky carb foods that start with the first ingredient including the word “whole” and then contain, as Dr. Greger puts it, “corn syrup and a chemistry set”.

Greger is one of those rare doctors who definitely gets it when it comes to fiber, highlighting a number of research studies extolling the benefits of more dietary fiber. These benefits include:

And just how can the medical community help lower chronic disease risk with diet? Another study highlighted in Gerger’s video implores clinicians to, “Enthusiastically and skillfully recommend that patients consume more dietary fibre.”

You do that by eating more whole plant foods:

  • Getting soluble fiber from oats, nuts, seeds, legumes and most fruits
  • Getting insoluble fiber from whole wheat, wheat bran, brown rice, other whole grains and most vegetables

If you’re interested in more of Dr. Gerger’s refreshing takes on whole foods and nutrition research, check out his information-rich site at nutritionfacts.org or his new book “How Not to Die” (…review coming to the fiber blog soon!)

 

Fresh Food From a Blender: The Vitamix Cookbook

5 Nov

Fresh Food From a Blender: The Vitamix Cookbook

I recently received a copy of The Vitamix Cookbook: 250 Delicious Whole Food Recipes to Make in Your Blender to review here on the fiber blog. Although I’ve been a Vitamix owner for about 5 years, I’m always eager for more recipes to test the limits of this timeless kitchen appliance.

For some historical context, I was a reluctant convert to Vitamix. My husband – Mr. Fiber – brought me on board following an unauthorized trip to Costco that happened to coincide with an in-store Vitamix Road Show.

He was as mesmerized by the demonstration as I was dumbfounded by the price. I plotted to return it (as I do with roughly all of his Costco purchases), but after flipping through the Whole Foods Recipes book that came with the Vitamix, I was sold.

Sure, I figured, you can continue to keep buying, breaking and replacing $30 blenders with crappy motors that can’t handle frozen fruit…or you can buy the Cadillac of blenders that is so powerful, it can make both hot soup AND frozen desserts.

 

High Fiber Soup in a Snap

Although most people think smoothies or juices when it comes to blending, for me, it’s all about the soup. I have always been in awe of the power of the Vitamix, with its blades that can reach speeds fast enough to create friction heat that bring soup ingredients to steaming hot in 4-6 minutes.

When I got my copy of The Vitamix Cookbook, I flipped right to Chapter 4 for Soups, Salads and Sides. The book features 40 fresh, new soup recipes that bring flavor to life in just a few minutes.

Most of the soups in the book have at least 3 g dietary fiber and under 500 mg sodium per serving, a good balance for homemade soups, which are hands-down healthier than canned, store-bought versions.

 

A Bit About the Book…

The Vitamix Cookbook is authored by Jodi Berg, the current President and CEO of Vitamix and a fourth-generation member of the 100-year old Vitamix company family. I thoroughly enjoyed the historical introduction in the book, which explains the foundations of the company.

Jodi explains how her great-grandfather founded the business, and that other Vitamix family members were challenged by digestive problems that caused them to seek solace in whole foods.

I love that all of the recipes in the Vitamix Cookbook are accompanied by accurate nutrient analysis, including dietary fiber (since most cookbooks forget fiber.) The food photography is beautiful and the layout of the recipes makes it easy to navigate and plot what’s going to go into the Vitamix next.

 

The Power of Whole Grain Flours

Chapter 2 features Breakfast and Brunch recipes, with great ideas for incorporating a variety of whole grain flours.

I have been using my Vitamix to make my toddler daughter baby food since she could eat, and I’ll certainly be incorporating the Banana Waffles (3 g fiber) and Bran Cherry Muffins (6 g fiber) recipes from this cookbook into our morning meals repertoire.

 

Recipe Rundown

I tested 8 recipes from the book – one from each chapter – and not surprisingly, my favorite was the soup sample, “Spiced Butternut Squash Soup”. With just 160 calories, 110 mg sodium and 4 g dietary fiber, this is a notably nutritious step up from your typical squash soup.

The Spiced Butternut Squash Soup recipe is below – but in the meantime, check out your own copy of The Vitamix Cookbook over at Amazon, and for more great Vitamix tips, tricks, videos and recipes, visit the Vitamix website.

 

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Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

Recipe from The Vitamix Cookbook by Jodi Berg

Ingredients

  • 4 cups (471 g) peeled, chunked butternut squash
  • 2 medium Gala apples (11 oz / 317 g), seeded and cut into small pieces
  • 4 cup (89 g) torn kale leaves
  • 1 cup (128 g) diced yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 5 cups (1.2 liters) carrot juice
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup (73 g) raw almonds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Instructions

  • Combine the squash, apples, kale, onion, vinegar, carrot juice, almond milk, almonds, and spices in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the squash is tender, about 30 minutes.
  • Ladle half of the hot mixture into he Vitamix container and secure the lid. Select Variable 1. Turn the machine on and slowly increase the speed to Variable 10, then to High. Blend for 1 minute.
  • Pour the pureed soup into a clean pot. Repeat with the remaining soup. Stir together both batches to combine. Serve hot.

Nutrition Information

Amount per 1 cup (240 ml) Serving

  • 160 calories
  • 4.5 g total fat
  • 0 g saturated fat
  • 0 mg cholesterol
  • 110 mg sodium
  • 27 g total carbohydrate
  • 4 g dietary fiber
  • 6 g sugars
  • 5 g protein

Disclosure: I was provided with a free copy of the Vitamix Cookbook for this post; thoughts and opinions are my own and I was not otherwise compensated for this post.

 

Stack a Smarter Sandwich

3 Nov

Stack a Smarter Sandwich

Today is National Sandwich Day; but America’s favorite handheld meal isn’t always the greatest go-to when it comes to nutrition.

According to one study, 49% of Americans age 20 and older eat a sandwich every day. And sandwiches account for roughly 1/5 of daily sodium intake.

If you stack it wrong, your next sandwich could set off a hypertensive crisis.

Here’s how to build a better sandwich working your improvements from the outside in:

 

Beware of Your Bread

The salt in cheese and processed meat is low hanging fruit in the sandwich sodium conundrum. You should actually be more afraid of your bread and the sodium that it’s sheltering.

A typical slice of bread can have 250-400 mg sodium – and that’s per piece. Considering that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend less than 2,300 mg per day, it’s not worth it to suffer so much sodium in sliced bread.

A few rules of thumb for selecting better breads:

  • Go for whole – look for the word “whole” in the first ingredient & avoid products “made with” while grains; “made with” just usually means white bread batter with a bit of whole grain thrown in at the end
  • 3 g fiber rule – a bread with whole grain in the first ingredient will usually have 3 g dietary fiber or more per slice; 3 g fiber per slice is a good bet when you’re picking your pan
  • For sodium sleuths – look for around 150 mg sodium or less per slice

Some best bets for lower sodium whole wheat breads are:

For a good read on sodium sneaking around in your breads, check out this CSPI article “Finding the Best Sliced Bread”.

 

Get Choosy with Your Cheese

Cheese and salt are synonymous. You can’t eat low salt cheese because a.) there’s no such thing and b.) it would be revolting if there were.

Instead, choose naturally lower-sodium cheese selections, such as:

  • Mozzarella
  • Cream cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Swiss
  • Monterey Jack
  • Ricotta
  • Parmesan

When it comes to lower sodium cheeses that actually taste legit, I like Alpine Lace – they cut the saturated fat and salt, without compromising taste.

 

Lower Lunch Meat Sodium at Home

One surefire way to curb the sodium in your sammies is to select meat or cheese, but not both. Luncheon meats and cheese are naturally higher sodium choices, and to be honest, you don’t need both.

But if you must maintain meat in your lunch, look for lower sodium versions of old standbys like turkey, ham and roast beef.

Another easy (and cheaper) option is to just rinse your standard lunch meat under running water. This is estimated to reduce sodium by about 30%.

When it comes to firing up the faucet, keep in mind you are also rinsing away the preservatives, so be sure to eat your rinsed lunch meat right away vs. re-storing in the refrigerator.

 

Cool it on the Condiments

If you cut the sodium in bread, meat and cheese, you’ve got the most serious salt problems out of the way. But sodium lurks in condiments too.

Keep these high sodium condiments on the minimum:

  • Ketchup (150 mg sodium in 1 tablespoon)
  • Relish (160 mg sodium in 1 tablespoon)
  • Barbecue sauce (175 mg sodium in 1 tablespoon)
  • Steak sauce (280 mg sodium in 1 tablespoon)
  • Low fat salad dressings

If you want to slather your bread with lower sodium condiments, why not try making your own? Check out these home made lower-sodium condiment ideas from Cooking Light. They whip up in no time and taste so much like the real deal that you won’t miss the salt.

 

Sandwich Day at SUBWAY

If you want to get in on celebrating National Sandwich Day – Subway is offering a buy one, give one sandwich deal at participating SUBWAY restaurants. They’re launching this along with their “exclusive” SUB Emoji on Twitter.

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You can get in on the game by tagging your tweets with #savelunchbreak. And if you want to really soup up your SUBWAY, ask your Sandwich Artist to “run it through the garden“. Piling your SUBWAY high with all of the fresh vegetable offerings in a footlong can net you up to 4 full servings of vegetables.

Succumbing to the King Arthur Cult

16 Sep

Succumbing to the King Arthur Cult

I’m not a big baker, but when a recipe recently called for whole grain spelt flour, I wasn’t about to go searching for stale spelt product at my local healthfood store.

So I was pretty stoked when I stumbled upon the fabulous online options available from King Arthur Flour.

Now a thing or two about the King: King Arthur has been in business for 225 years, so they’ve got the flour power bit down. As of 1996 the company transferred from a family-owned operation to an employee-owned operation and they became a Certified B Corporation in 2007, meaning they are deemed ethically and environmentally fit by the nonprofit B Lab.

According to Inc. Magazine, employees at King Arthur get 40 hours per year of paid volunteer time, free professional development, reimbursement for weight management and childcare. On top of that, lower-paid workers receive a subsidy for produce from a local farm.

So what does employee relations and business development have to do with flour? A company that takes care of its employees has those employees in turn producing the highest quality products.

I scoped a few baker blogs for King Arthur praise and apparently I’m 225 years behind the curve on this one. They all rave about the fabulous flour they’re churning out in Vermont.

Although King Arthur sells every type of baking flour imaginable, its’ the Whole Grain section that really gets me going. If you need wheat berries, gluten free brown rice flour or organic pumpernickel flour delivered to your doorstep, this is the place to go!

I also found their Videos selection incredibly helpful. Did you know that you’ve been measuring your flour wrong all this time? You’ve got to fluff first!

Lastly, if you find yourself stuck in a baker’s blunder, call up the King Arthur baker’s hotline. The number is (855) 371-2253. The friendly employer owners folks there know it all.

And if you’re curious how much fiber is in the organic whole spelt flour? It’s 3 grams fiber per 100 calorie 1/3 cup serving. I learned it from the hotline!

For a whole grain kick to your next morning meal, check out this super simple Spelt Pancakes recipe from the Whole Grains Council and King Arthur’s Flour:

Simple Spelt Pancakes

Serves: 4 (16 4-inch pancakes)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (7 oz) whole spelt flour
  • 2 tablespoons (7/8 oz) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups (14 oz) milk
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the spelt flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  2. Combine the milk and melted butter, and the vanilla if you’re using it.
  3. Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir the batter just until the dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened: it will seem very wet, but will thicken as it sits. Let the batter sit for 15 minutes before you use it.
  4. Heat a non-stick griddle if you have one, or a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron. If your surface is not non-stick, brush it lightly with vegetable oil.
  5. When the surface of your pan is hot enough that a drop of water sputters across the surface, give the pan a quick swipe with a paper towel to eliminate excess oil, and spoon the batter onto the hot surface, 1/4-cupful at a time.
  6. Let the pancakes cook on the first side until bubbles begin to form around the edges of the cakes, about 2 to 3 minutes. You may need to adjust your heat up or down to get the pancakes to cook through without scorching the surface, or being too pale.
  7. When the cakes are just beginning to set, flip them and let them finish cooking on the second side, about 1 minute more, until they’re golden brown on both sides.

Nutrition Information (per 4 4-inch pancake serving)

  • Calories 137
  • Fat 4g
  • Carbohydrate 20g
  • Dietary Fiber 4g
  • Sugar 4g
  • Sodium 375 mg
  • Protein 5g