Fiber in Your Pantry
Top Five Items to Keep in Your House
It’s much easier to make changes in your diet when you have the right foods on hand. So here are five items you should always have in your pantry or freezer. Though many people prefer fresh fruits and vegetables, these items can spoil if not used in a relatively short period of time. Keep in mind that frozen and canned foods can actually be just as nutritious as fresh foods - if the fresh foods have been in the refrigerator for a while they actually lose some nutritional value. Choose frozen and canned items that have little or no added fat, sodium or sugar (in some cases, small amounts of sodium or sugar act as a preservative in the processing).
Corn Niblets - Corn is a good source of fiber (3 grams per ½-cup serving). Whether it’s fresh, canned or frozen, corn is a great addition to chili, soups, salads, stews – or delicious on its own.
Beans – Canned or dry beans are a super-star of fiber because they provide anywhere between 5 and 10 grams per ½-cup serving (cooked). Beans are also a good source of protein and contain several vitamins and minerals. They come in a wide array of colors and shapes that make them visually appealing any way you use them. Drain canned beans then use as the main ingredient in a dip; or add them to salads, soups, casseroles and stews. Soak dried beans overnight in a large pot of water; drain. Then cook in a large pot of water for about an hour or until tender.
Dried Prunes – For anyone with a sweet tooth this is an ideal snack. Buy the pitted variety so you can add them to cereal (more fiber!) or yogurt. Many savory stews call for dried prunes to add contrast to other flavors. Prunes are also available in jars and cans; and they are great for keeping in the kitchen cupboard. Five dried prunes have 3 grams of fiber, and dried prunes in jars or cans contain 4 grams per ½-cup serving.
Cereals – Ready-to-eat breakfast cereal can be a powerhouse of fiber. Some contain up to 14 grams per ½-cup serving! Read the label before you make your final choice in the supermarket. Top any of these cereals with fruit and you’ll get even more fiber. Remember, cereal is not just for breakfast – it makes a great light lunch or dinner!
Sweet Potatoes – Other than holidays, this nutritious and fiber-rich vegetable is often overlooked. A medium, baked sweet potato with skin has almost 5 grams of fiber. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), and a very good source of vitamin C. In addition, they provide vitamin B-6 and the minerals copper, iron and potassium.