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Tiger Nuts: A Tuber Full of Fiber

22 Dec

Tiger Nuts: A Tuber Full of Fiber

On a recent stroll through Gansevoort Market in New York City, a vendor selling Tiger Nuts caught my eyes and ears. The hawker was extolling the high fiber content of his tiny little withered snacks – Organic Gemini Tiger Nuts – which turns out aren’t nuts at all.

I was intrigued by these tigernuts, which look a little like dried garbanzo beans. They pack an impressive 10 grams of naturally occurring, intact fiber in a 1 oz 120-calorie serving.

So what exactly is a tigernut? The botanical name is Cyperus esculentus – and the use of “nut” in the name is misleading. Tiger nuts aren’t nuts, but rather, tubers that grow underground in many parts of the world.

Tigernuts are eaten roasted and salted as a snack in West Africa, and they can be used as one of the bases for the “milk” in the variety of horchata popular in Spain.

The brand of tigernuts that I tried – Organic Gemini’s – were chewy, nutty in flavor, and definitely felt full of roughage. They had a neither sweet nor savory flavor, but were actually quite bland. Not bland in a bad way… just lacking any real, overpowering flavor profile. I can’t say I would find myself binge snacking on tigernuts anytime soon, but they are a very satiating and certainly unique snack.

Because tigernuts are virtually unknown in the US, the USDA Nutrient Database doesn’t list their nutrition information; however, other analyses of the tuber’s nutrition content do indeed indicate that it is a very high fiber food. In addition to 10 g fiber per 120 calorie serving, tigernuts contain iron (10% daily value per serving) as well as 7% DV for magnesium and zinc, and 6% for potassium. They are gluten free and contain prebiotics which may be beneficial for proliferation of good gut bacteria.

In researching tigernuts, I came across some interesting applications of this high fiber tuber in the processed food supply. One study looked at the nutritional effect of adding high fiber tigernuts to chorizo (a fiber-free food) while another analyzed its addition to pork burgers.

While I think I’ll stick to my fiber free meat products for now, I do have to say I’m a fan of these tiny tubers and I hope to see more of them in the fiber friendly marketplace soon.

The Good Bean: Crispy, Crunchy Chickpea Snacks

8 Dec

The Good Bean: Crispy, Crunchy Chickpea Snacks

As a dietitian, I find myself constantly extolling the benefits of legumes:

  • Want more plant protein? Eat legumes.
  • Looking to fill up with fiber? Eat legumes.
  • Need a nutrient rich carbohydrate? Eat legumes.

The actual practice of eating more legumes, however, is easier said than done. Sure, you can sub out meat for kidney beans in your chili or look to lentils for more filling soups.

But how do you incorporate legumes into snacks? Well, I think I’ve found the perfect answer: The Good Bean.

I recently sampled the Sweet Cinnamon flavor of these crispy, crunchy chickpea snacks – and let me tell you, legumes have never looked better!

A one ounce serving (about 1/6 of the bag) of The Good Bean chickpea snacks has:

  • 120 calories
  • 3g total fat
  • 5g dietary fiber
  • 5g protein

If you want a snack that keeps you sated, you look for protein and fiber. This snack has both, and 5 grams of each are pretty impressive stats. They are nut-free, gluten free, soy free and vegan.

I loved the Sweet Cinnamon flavor: it was – as the name implies – sweet, but not overly so, with just 6 grams of sugar. The first ingredient is roasted chickpeas, which is nice to see considering that so many other vegetable snacks start out chock full of potato starch.

You can find The Good Bean chickpea snacks at Whole Foods or Sprouts Market. Or check out their online Store Locator for a retail outlet near you.

Next Generation Nutrition: The New Superfoods

27 Oct

Next Generation Nutrition: The New Superfoods

Superfoods get a lot of love. But there’s actually no legal or medical definition for the term superfood.

When a food wins the tagline “superfood” – it generally contains high levels of antioxidants or other nutrients.

If you think about it, all fruits and vegetables are especially “super” – given that they contain dietary fiber and other important vitamins and minerals.

But if you love healthy, high fiber foods and you’re looking to spiff up your superfood arsenal, check out these 5 new super foods you need to know about:

Amaranth

It’s time to cool it on the quinoa! Amaranth is an awesome, gluten free grain that has more essential amino acids than any other plant food:

  • Amaranth is the only grain with vitamin C
  • You can prepare amaranth as a hot cereal grain or combine into starch dishes as you would quinoa or barley
  • If you want a killer way to incorporate more amaranth, check out KIND Healthy Grains – a granola mix with 5 super grains, including amaranth

Super Seeds

If you’re tired of flax on your cereal and in your smoothies, check out these new super seeds:

  • Chia Seed: made from the same stuff as chia pets, chia seeds are high in fiber and help you feel fuller for longer
  • For an on-the-go chia solution, check out Chia Slims stick packs from Chosen Foods – simply add a Chia stick pack to 16 oz of water for 12% of your daily value for fiber
  • Daikon Radish & Broccoli Seeds: your favorite vegetables are now available in seed form, packed with antioxidants and great flavor too
  • Way Better Snacks’ Simply So Sweet Chili and Simply Unbeatable Blues tortilla chips contain sprouted daikon radish and broccoli seeds; sprouting increases digestibility and antioxidant content in these gluten-free and non-GMO corn torilla chips

Beet Juice

The green juice revolution is so passe! Red juice is now where it’s at!

  • Beet juice is an incredibly nutrient dense superfood with the proven capacity to boost energy for exercise and improve blood flow and blood pressure

Avocado Oil

Everyone knows olive oil is a heart healthy fat. But avocado oil is coming up strong as an alternate!

  • The majority of the fats in avocado oil are heart healthy mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • The high smoke point of avocado oil makes it a versatile tool in your kitchen

For more tips on becoming super food savvy, check out my segment clip from Good Morning San Diego.

Gluten Free Grains, Guilt Free

1 Jul

Gluten Free Grains, Guilt Free

I’ve only been gluten free for a week, but I’m already really annoying,” declares the cartoon caption from a recent New Yorker magazine.

Almost as trendy as eating gluten free is the trend of writing about how gluten free diets aren’t healthy. And the gluten free bandwagon certainly has been taking a beating lately in the mainstream media.

Just last week as part of its How We Eat series, even the Wall Street Journal featured an article on the gluten free craze, questioning whether it is healthy.

Well, for the 3 million Americans with celiac disease (about 1 in 100 citizens), a gluten free lifestyle is the only therapeutic option out there for beating this autoimmune disease.

But going gluten free doesn’t mean you have to ditch all of the great grains that make up a nutritious diet.

Here are 5 great grains that you might not have known are gluten free:

1.) Corn

Whole, dried corn is a whole grain and the most widely grown crop in the Americas. Research from Cornell shows that corn has the highest amount of antioxidants of any fruits or vegetable.

2.) Brown Rice

When it comes to rice, brown is better. One study from the Harvard School of Public Health showed that people who ate white rice had a higher risk of type 2 diabetes than people who ate brown rice.

3.) Oats

Oats are gluten free, but they are often contaminated with wheat during growing or processing. Look for oat products that contain pure, uncontaminated oats and that are in foods certified as gluten free.

4.) Quinoa

Technically a seed, this superfood is high in protein and fiber, and its flour makes a great base for gluten free pizzas, breads, and rolls.

5.) Buckwheat

This high fiber rain can be made into pancakes, waffles, and crepes. It has been shown to act as a prebiotic, meaning that it also has the potential to aid in digestion for certain people.

For more information on gluten free grains, check out my segment on Channel 7 NBC San Diego.

Pulse Your Way to Lower LDL

25 Apr

Pulse Your Way to Lower LDL

A new study out in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that eating 1 serving of pulses each day can lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels by as much as 5%.

Good news for bad cholesterol…but what’s a pulse?

A pulse is simply a legume, including dried peas and beans such as:

  • Pinto beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Navy beans
  • Lentils

A one-half cup serving of pulses can have between 5-9 grams of fiber, depending on the legume.

You can always soak and prepare your own pulses at home – but most people find that canned options are more convenient for eating these high fiber, protein-packed pulses.

If you’re worried about sodium intake in canned foods, try rinsing your canned beans under a running faucet. This reduces sodium content by about 30%.

And if you REALLY like pulses, then get geared up for 2016. The United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses…an opportunity to “give pulses the attention they deserve.”