Fibre is very, very important for the health of the gut, can help prevent constipation, reduce cholesterol, prevent bowel cancer, aid with weight loss and weight maintenance and slow down the transit of food through the gut so prolonging the time available for the gut to absorb nutrients from the passing food into the blood. It’s amazing stuff.
In essence, 18-24g per day is what we need. This can be obtained quite happily through a varied, balanced diet in line with the Eatwell Plate (Food Pyramid for our U.S. based friends!). Fruit, vegetables, beans, lentils, pulses, wholemeal bread, seeds and grains are all great sources of fibre and the mixture you need of soluble and insoluble fibre should be gotten through including a range of these foods in your regular diet.
Soluble fibre can be partially digested by your body. It may help reduce the amount of cholesterol in your blood. If you have constipation, gradually increasing sources of soluble fibre – such as fruit and vegetables, oats and golden linseeds – can help soften your stools and make them easier to pass. This is the glue of your poo, if you like! Water is needed to help with this too.
Foods that contain soluble fibre include:
* oats, barley and rye
* fruit, such as bananas and apples
* root vegetables, such as carrots and potatoes
* golden linseeds
Insoluble fibre cannot be digested. It passes through your gut without being broken down and helps other foods move through your digestive system more easily. It is the fabric of your poo!
Insoluble fibre keeps your bowels healthy, helps prevent digestive problems and slows down food transit. If you have diarrhoea, you should limit the amount of insoluble fibre in your diet.
Good sources of insoluble fibre include:
* wholemeal bread
* nuts and seeds (except golden linseeds)
Eating foods high in fibre will help you feel fuller for longer. This may help if you are trying to lose weight or manage your weight after having lost it.
If you need to increase your fibre intake, it’s important that you do so gradually. A sudden increase may make you produce more wind (flatulence), leave you feeling bloated and cause stomach cramps. Too much fibre can prevent your body from absorping nutrients effectively causing deficiency problems so don’t over-do it.
It’s also important to make sure you drink plenty of fluid. You should drink approximately 1.5-2 litres (six to eight glasses) of fluid a day, or more while exercising or when it’s hot.
Hope this helps!
Spring has sprung…at last!…in the U.K. The leaves are finally starting to appear on all of the trees, I have finally spotted some ducklings and goslings on the canal, the sun is making the occasional appearance and there is blue sky up above us at least parts of the day on most days! We have even turned the central heating off and removed the electric blanket from our bed for the first time in about 5 months!
In honour of this lovely spring weather and the sheer joy on people’s faces that we are finally feeling warm enough to remove our scarves and hats I decided to make a spring-like soup today because, let’s face reality, how long is it going to last?! I had to ride the warmer vibes while I could before it starts clouding over and raining again – good old Blighty!
I had a lot of green veggies to use, some fresh and some not so much although they were in no way past their prime! I found a couple of lovely recipes for Minestrone Verde soup, a minestrone soup hailing from Italy traditionally made with asparagus, lots of greens, beans and herbs and rice instead of pasta.
I made a few adjustments to the recipes, using my habitual improvisation skills quite a lot, because I didn’t have asparagus, cabbage or any parmesan and I liked the idea of using up some macaroni that I own but never really use! Instead of asparagus I used a courgette, in place of cabbage I used broccoli and to make up for the parmesan I used some pesto.
This is a really lovely, chunky, filling soup – more of a stew or broth really. I think parmesan would add a little something to it and if I had asparagus I would definitely add this as it is traditional and a mighty tasty veg to boot. I think this would serve equally well as an evening meal. As it’s so filling it’s not really necessary to eat bread as well (the pasta and beans are more than satisfying for the growling hunger). This is packed full of fibre, vitamin C and protein, so great for an after-exercise lunch, and because of its satisfaction rating it should help with weight loss too if you can avoid eating additional carbohydrate (bread) with it.
1.5 tbsp. vegetable/olive oil (15g)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed (6g)
1 large courgette, ends trimmed, sliced and quartered (260g)
1 leek, ends trimmed and sliced (150g)
1 x small white onion, diced (85g)
2 x sticks celery, sliced (100g)
½ head broccoli (flowers and stalks), diced into small chunks (185g)
1.5 cans peeled plum tomatoes, chopped (600g)
1000ml vegetable stock (made using 1x10g stock cube)
210g green beans, topped and tailed, sliced into ½ inch pieces
200g macaroni or broken pasta
150g frozen peas
120g butter beans (½ can, drained)
195g broad beans (1 small can, drained)
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped, (12g)
Handful of fresh basil, chopped (10g)
2 tbsp. green pesto (52g)
Black pepper to taste
- In a large saucepan – make it really large because I had to transfer mine into a wok halfway through because there was no room for beans! – heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the garlic and fry for 30-60 seconds to infuse the oil with flavour.
- Fry the courgette, leek, onions, celery and broccoli for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent them burning. Cook until they are softened but not browned.
- Add the canned tomatoes, stock, green beans and pasta. Cook over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the peas, butter beans, broad beans, parsley, basil, pesto and black pepper. Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the green beans and pasta are softened.
Energy 1770 kcal (7405 kJ)
Total sugars 51.8g
Per Serving (Serves 6)
Energy 295 kcal (1234 kJ)
Total sugars 8.6g
1 level tbsp. grated/shaved parmesan (10g) = 42 kcal / 176 kJ
Suggested Ear Candy
After listening to The Apples in Stereo last week and loving it so much I did a bit of research to try and find similar bands. Amazon recommended me a band who have been around for a while called Beulah so I picked up one of their albums ( When Your Heartstrings Break).
Cooking this soup was the first chance I got to listen to it – I liked it! It didn’t remind me of The Apples in Stereo though, more reminiscent of Pavement or Built to Spill.
There’s one obvious alternative to listen to whilst cooking up a storm with this soup….Life is a Minestrone by 10cc!
**WARNING TO OTHERS – DON’T DROP YOUR PLASTIC MEASURING SPOONS INTO THE FLAME ON YOUR GAS HOB, THEREBY RENDERING IT IMPOSSIBLE TO EVER MEASURE QUANTITIES OF HALF A TABLESPOON AGAIN – DURRR! **
½ – 1 x green chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped (4g)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (7g)
1 x white onion, peeled and roughly diced (140g)
1 x red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped (150g)
120g carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 x sticks celery, sliced (70g)
1 tbsp. vegetable/olive oil (10g)
2 tbsp. tomato puree (30g)
1 x can kidney beans, drained (240g)
400g can chopped tomatoes
600ml vegetable stock
1 tsp. cumin, powdered
1 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
Black pepper to taste
- In a large pan heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the garlic and chilli and fry for 30-60 seconds to infuse the oil with their flavour. Add the onion, pepper, carrots and celery and fry for approximately 5 minutes, until softened.
- Add the tomato puree and fry this, stirring it in with the vegetables, for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the kidney beans, tomatoes, stock, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Mix all ingredients together.
- Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and simmer for 45 minutes until the sauce has reduced down.
Energy 580 kcal (2430 kJ)
Total sugars 51g
Per Serving (Serves 4)
Energy 145kcal (608 kJ)
Total sugars 12.8g
1 x white crusty bread roll (50g) = 130kcal / 545 kJ
150g of boiled white/brown rice = 210kcal / 880 kJ
2 x taco shells = 140kcal / 587 kJ
1 x tbsp. of soured cream = 62kcal/ 260 kJ
**If you want a more meaty feast in your belly try the following**
Fry 250g lean beef/steak mince, cooking the meat through until browned (you can skim off excess fat if you want to keep it healthy) before adding the vegetables. This will add 450kcal/ 1885kJ per batch so if you are dividing your batch by 4 then this would be an additional 115kcal / 472 kJ per portion.
Fry 2 x chicken breasts, chopped into chunks (300g), and cook until browned before adding the vegetables. This will add 330kcal/ 1382 kJ per batch so if you are dividing your batch by 4 then this would be an additional 85kcal / 346 kJ per portion.
Suggested Ear Candy
I gave my ears a bit of a fiesta with In the Reins by Calexico (with Iron & Wine) and Sonido Amazonico by Chicha Libre
El Vez, the mexican Elvis is brilliant….he’s been around for years but I have only just got round to listening and he’s ace!