Fiber: 10 Great Sources (Part 2)
Last month I posted about the benefits of kids eating a high fiber diet. I followed this up with the first half of a top 10 list of foods high in fiber, inspired by a list published this month in Today’s Dietician. Here are the next 5 in alphabetical order, with plenty of cooking and prep ideas on how to get your kids to eat them.
Worried you won’t get fiber into your kids no matter how you push the veggies? Don’t worry any more! Dates, those super sweet chewy fruits of the date palm, are also really high in fiber! Just ONE medjool date contains 6% of the daily amount of fiber you need. Of course, dates are really high in sugar, but the naturally occurring fruit sugars in dates have a low glycemic index, which means they won’t make kids’ blood sugar spike. Dates contain a wealth of beneficial antioxidants, including phenolic acids and carotenoids, as well as vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and copper!* This means that eating dates is not only a great sweet alternative to candy, but they can also help protect the stomach, liver, and nerves, stimulate the immune system, and protect against cancer and inflammation!**
Getting kids to eat dates is as easy as pie, literally. Add them to any traditionally sweet recipe, such as muffins, oatmeal, or oatmeal cookies. Chop them up and add them to salads or even some cooked dishes. Of course you can always send them to school with kids as a sweet snack! And guess what? You can use dates to make healthy alternatives to traditionally unhealthy sweet treats, like my favorite – gluten free brownies!
Lentils (and Beans)
Most people are aware of beans as a good source of fiber, but little lentils pack a huge fiber punch, too. With over 15 grams of fiber in one cup of boiled lentils, one serving will give your kids almost all the fiber they need for the day! Regularly eating lentils and/or beans lowers pretty much all of the symptoms and risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes.*** Lentils are also incredibly high in protein, with 18 grams per cup. They also contain abundant healthful phytochemicals, iron, thiamin, phosphorus, manganese, potassium, and copper.
Lentil stew is a delicious way to get kids to eat the little guys. But there is no need to stop there – my favorite way to eat lentils is in a cold salad for lunch, with chopped tomatoes, scallions, and perhaps a bit of feta cheese. They are also a great addition to an Asian noodle or rice bowl.
Surprised to see potatoes on a list of healthy foods? Potatoes are often demonized as being starchy and having low nutritional value, but the hype is misleading. Potatoes, like other vegetables, contain a wealth of healthy nutrients – including fiber! One large russet potato (eaten with the skin) provides 6.9 grams of fiber, making it (along with beans) one of the most inexpensive sources of dietary fiber. Russet potatoes are also very high in vitamin C and potassium, a very good source of vitamin B6, manganese, magnesium, and niacin, and a good source of folate, thiamin, pantothenic acid, iron, copper, and phosphorus. Didn’t know your everyday potato contained so many benefits, did you?! And if you want even more, choose a yellow or purple potato variety to take advantage of the antioxidants they contain that reduce inflammation and DNA damage!****
Try to get your kids to eat potatoes with the skin on, as that is where most of the fiber is. I bake potatoes with spices and seasoning on the outside, making the skin the tastiest part of the potato. You can also make lots of dishes using potatoes with the skin on, such as potato and leek or cauliflower and potato soups; potato kugel; potato latkes; home fries; or even mashed potatoes or skordalia. Try using purple or blue potato varieties if that will get your kids interested! Potatoes are so versatile the possibilities are endless and their bland flavor makes it possible to sneak them into all sorts of dishes. Finally, if all else fails, slice whole potatoes into strips and turn them into French fries – make them crispy in the oven by soaking them first in ice water and you won’t need to deep fry!
Quinoa has gotten a lot of press as a superfood in the past few years and it is well deserved! One cup of cooked quinoa contains 5.2 grams of fiber, which is more than brown rice! It is also a good source of protein because although it doesn’t have the most protein out of all whole grains, the proteins it contains come in the right amounts of each amino acid, making it a complete protein. It is also gluten free, and boasts of many nutrients, including magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese.
Rinse quinoa, then cook it as you would rice (although it cooks much faster than rice). I often substitute quinoa for rice in dishes. It can also be used in stews. It also makes a good cold salad that can be sent to school for lunch. Try pairing quinoa in salad with mango, feta cheese, and some veggies for a salty-sweet salad that will appeal to picky taste buds.
I always think of berries as a decadent treat. My kids love any kind of berry as a treat or snack and of all the berries, raspberries are really high in fiber. One cup of raspberries contains 8 grams of fiber! That’s twice the amount in blueberries or strawberries! They are also high in vitamin C, manganese, and vitamin K. They are also full of antioxidants and can help reduce risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.*****
Raspberries on their own make a great snack for school or as dessert with lunch. My kids love them in their cereal or on top of yogurt. Mix them into desserts, oatmeal, or parfaits. Or drizzle a tiny bit of dark chocolate on top of them for a healthy, decadent dessert. Hopefully these treats will be an easy sell for your kids!
I hope you have found this guide to high fiber foods informative and helpful! With so many ideas for high fiber foods and so many ways to prepare them, surely you can find something that will appeal to even the most picky kids.
*Tang ZX, Shi LE, Aleid SM. Date fruit: chemical composition, nutritional and medicinal values, products. J Sci Food Agric. 2013;93(10):2351-2361.
**Vayalil PK. Date fruits (Phoenix dactylifera Linn): an emerging medicinal food. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2012;52(3):249-271.
***Jenkins DJA, Kendall CWC, Augustin LSA, et al. Effect of legumes as part of a low glycemic index diet on glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(21):1653-1660.
****Kaspar KL, Park JS, Brown CR, Mathison BD, Navarre DA, Chew BP. Pigmented potato consumption alters oxidative stress and inflammatory damage in men. J Nutr. 2011;141(1):108-111.
*****Kosmala M, Zdunczyk Z, Juskiewicz J, et al. Chemical composition of defatted strawberry and raspberry seeds and the effect of these dietary ingredients on polyphenol metabolites, intestinal function, and selected serum parameters in rats. J Agric Food Chem. 2015;63(11):2989-2996.