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!
Well, I don’t know about you but I had seriously (maybe a little on purpose because I loves ‘em!) overbought on the brussel sprouts and parsnips this Christmas. This recipe is a fab way to use up your leftovers by putting them into an awesome hearty Wintery warming stew which is jam-packed with fibre, vitamins and flavour and is a perfect lunch or evening meal that is low in fat (especially if you make the vegetarian version using Quorn sossies) and really filling and therefore useful if you are on a post-Christmas/New Year weight loss programme. The sausages add some lovely meaty taste and protein and, as if the veggies didn’t fill you up enough, the pearl barley provides the carbohydrate element which will help you to feel fuller for longer post-scoff! Tasty enough to eat twice a day, if you ask me!!!
4 medium-sized good quality (at least 70% meat) pork sausages (200g)
– use the extra special Chef’s Selection Quorn sausages for a lower saturated fat or vegetarian version
1 tbsp. olive or vegetable oil (10g)
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
1 large onion, peeled and chopped (150g)
2-3 large carrots, peeled and chopped (230g)
250g brussel sprouts, ends and brown leaves trimmed, sliced (you could use cabbage instead)
2-3 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped (300g)
125g pearl barley or scotch broth mix
1.2 litre vegetable or chicken stock (made with 1 x 10g stock cube)
Ground black pepper
A handful fresh parsley, chopped
- Grill or ovenbake the sausages until brown and cooked through, allowing as much fat as possible to run off. Set aside and leave to cool.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and fry for approximately 5 minutes.
- Add the carrot, sprouts and parsnips and fry for 8-10 minutes or until softened and browned slightly.
- Add the pearl barley or scotch broth mix and the stock.
- Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the vegetables and pearl barley/scotch broth mix are softened. Keep the vegetables on this side of over-cooked though!
- Slice the cooked, cooled sausages and add to the stew with the chopped parsley and black pepper to taste. Stir well and serve piping hot.
Per Batch (70% pork sausages / Chef’s Selection Quorn sausages)
Energy 1250 kcal (5230 kJ) / 1164 kcal (4870 kJ)
Carbohydrate 126.7g / 138.7g
Total sugars 56.1g / 53.5g
Fat 60.5g / 43.2g
Saturates 17.4g / 4.8g
Protein 44.8g / 48.4g
Fibre 41.4g / 45.4g
Salt 6.1g / 8.9g
Per Serving – (70% pork sausages / Chef’s Selection Quorn sausages)
Energy 313 kcal (1308 kJ) / 291 kcal (1218 kJ)
Carbohydrate 31.7g / 34.7g
Total sugars 14.0g / 13.4g
Fat 15.1g / 10.8g
Saturates 4.4g / 1.2g
Protein 11.2g / 12.1g
Fibre 10.4g / 11.4g
Salt 1.5g / 2.2g
A slice of seeded bread = 120 kcal (502 kJ)
A crusty roll = 130 kcal (544 kJ)
Instead of sausages you could use shredded turkey or chicken meat, pork or beef to really help you use up those festive leftovers!
I ate a lovely, warming, filling brunch of huevos rancheros (or mexican ranch-style beans) in a Chiquitos restaurant near the O2 in London recently. This was in preparation for my ascent to the top of the O2 – that’s right, you can climb it to a viewing
platform mountaineering style and get fab views of London City and the river on a clear day (we got lucky with the weather)! Awesome fun, and the breakfast set me up a treat!
I digress! This is my own home-cooked version that I have only just got round to making 2 weeks later because I’ve not had time to soak and boil my beans!
This is a well-balanced brekkie plate with plenty of fresh anti-oxidant-rich veggies for fibre and vitamins, black beans for muscle-building protein and a bit of a kick to wake you up for the day. Who said hot breakfasts had to be bland, unhealthy, stodgy and full of saturated fat?! Black beans are high in fibre (aids weight loss because it fills you up, and boosts the health of the gut), low in fat, and contain a decent amount of iron (important for building red blood cells and preventing anaemia), folate (important for red blood cells and transport of oxygen to the muscles and prevents spina bifida in unborn children), magnesium and potassium.
If you have to get the dried black beans that need soaking I would recommend preparing more than you need as you can always freeze them once cooked for easy use at a later date.
400g black beans, cooked (use canned pinto beans, drained, if you cannot find black beans)
200ml vegetable or chicken broth, made with ½ a 10g stock cube
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1 large red onion, chopped (185g)
1 large red pepper, chopped (145g)
1 clove garlic, minced (4g)
1 can chopped tomatoes or 4 fresh tomatoes, finely chopped (400g)
1 can of sweetcorn kernels (160g)
1 tbsp. jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
2 tbsp. fresh coriander or cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
salt, to taste
4 tortillas (40g each)
- Soak the black beans in cold water overnight (24 hours). Place in a large saucepan, cover with double the amount of water, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover and leave to cook for at least 2 hours or until the beans are softened but not breaking apart. Add more water if it starts to dry out. Drain and leave to cool.
- To make the salsa, stir the tomatoes, red onions, red pepper, sweetcorn, coriander or cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno pepper, minced garlic, and salt to taste, together in a bowl until well blended. Cover, and refrigerate until needed (at least 1 hour).
- Place the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Stir in the garlic, and cook 1 minute until light brown. Mix in the black beans or drained pinto beans if using these instead, the broth and 1 tbsp. jalapeno pepper. Simmer until beans are heated through (about 5 minutes). Turn off heat, and keep warm.
- Preheat oven to 190°C / 375°F / gas mark 5. Place tortillas on a baking sheet with greaseproof paper underneath. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until warmed through and softened. Alternatively, heat in microwave on full power for 30 – 45 seconds.
- Poach or scramble the eggs and cook to desired firmness.
- To assemble huevos rancheros, place a tortilla on each plate. Top each tortilla with black bean mixture, a layer of salsa, and an egg (or ¼ of the scrambled eggs). Serve immediately.
– Add 1 inch of chorizo, chopped into small squares = additional 68 kcal / 285 kJ
For a main meal, per portion:
– Add 20g of grated cheddar cheese = additional 83kcal / 347 kJ
– 50g of shredded roast chicken (instead of the eggs) = 89 kcal / 372 kJ
– 50g of shredded roast pork (instead of the eggs) = 91 kcal / 381 kJ
– 50g of shredded roast beef (instead of the eggs) = additional 110 kcal / 460 kJ
per whole recipe
Energy 1495 kcal / 6255 kJ
Total sugar 53.3g
Salt 8.4g (check canned beans for added salt)
per serving (if serving 4)
Energy 374kcal / 1565 kJ
Total sugar 13.3g
Salt 2.1g (check canned beans for added salt)
The humble date often makes an appearance at Christmas – about the only time of year that you seem to be able to buy the gorgeous, sticky, squidgy Medjool style date, as opposed to the small, shrivelled, dry ones you are forced to be content with the rest of the year round!
Dates are a fruit in their own right, not the dried version of something else. Although higher in calories than most fresh fruits, they do also contain a fantastic range of nutritional benefits and so are definitely a good alternative to chocolate if you are craving something sweet this Christmas.
Fibre: dates are high in fibre which helps our digestive systems to function smoothly (pardon the pun!), prevents constipation, promotes gut health and also can help to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood.
B Vitamins: Dates contain a good amount of niacin, riboflavin and folate. These are all part of the B Vitamin family which help to support a range of bodily functions.
Riboflavin (B2): supports the health of the nervous system and can help promote skin and eye health as well as helping our bodies to release the energy from carbohydrate.
Niacin (B3): helps to promote the health of the digestive and nervous systems
Folate: helps to support Vitamin B12 to promote the production and health of red blood cells, therefore supporting the transport of oxygen to the muscles and preventing fatigue. It is also a vital vitamin during pregnancy as it prevents conditions such as spina bifida from developing in newborns.
Iron: Dates contain a decent amount of iron; any foods containing iron are good to eat as this is one of the minerals that we can so easily become deficient in, especially if we do not eat meat. Iron helps to build red blood cells which carry oxygen to muscles as a source of energy. If we are deficient in iron we can develop anaemia, a symptom of which is extreme fatigue and lack of energy.
Calcium: Dates contain a small amount of calcium, which promotes bone health, growth and development and is involved in cardiac function, so can help to keep the heart strong and healthy.
HOW TO STUFF A DATE!
1. Slice the date down one side, being careful not to cut all the way through as you want to keep it whole.
2. Carefully remove the stone. A good treat here, as there is often some date flesh still on the stone – it’s chef’s perogative to suck the stones! Just as satisfying as licking the spoon!
3. Take one whole almond, pistachio, walnut half, cashew or a nut of your choosing and place this where the stone used to be. Alternatively, stuff the cavity with chopped nuts.
4. Roll the stuffed date in grated coconut or sprinkle some on top for a delicious treat and a beautiful festive, snowy look
5. Alternative stuffings are:
* cream cheese (low fat, if you want to keep it healthy)
* blue cheese
* thick, lowfat greek style yogurt and honey
* bacon, wrapped around the date like pigs-in-blankets (obviously the bacon needs to be cooked first)
per one date, stuffed with an almond and rolled in coconut (per one date stuffed with blue cheese)
This is, essentially, a plug of my breakfast from this morning but it was delicious, balanced and healthy fulfilling all major food groups! Figs are a really good source of fibre so great for lowering cholesterol and preventing constipation (sorry, perhaps not the best breakfast topic but an important one none-the-less!). They also contain a good amount of potassium which can help to keep the blood pressure normalised – potassium is found in most fruit and vegetables in varying quantities so if you’re eating your 5-a-day then you’re probably getting enough potassium.
If you can’t find fresh figs then you could use dried ones but the texture and flavour of fresh figs is definitely more subtle, sweet and fresh. If you wanted to substitute the cinnamon pancake for an American-style plain or lemon flavoured one that would work just as well or you could make your own thin (English or French-style) pancake. To keep the calories similar just make sure the weight of the pancake is no more than 65g and that you don’t use too much fat when cooking – 1 tsp. of oil or butter in a hot pan should do.
INGREDIENTS (per person)
1 american style cinnamon pancake (65g)
2 tbsps of reduced fat creme fraiche or low fat greek yogurt
2 sliced fresh figs
1-2 tsp. of flaked or chopped almonds (or about 6 whole)
1 tsp runny honey
pinch of ground cinnamon
There’s not much to it really!
* Lightly toast the pancake if you’ve bought a pre-prepared one (mine were from the Asda bakery counter, but any other brands would do or you could make your own – don’t use too much fat to cook them)
* Layer the creme fraiche or greek yogurt on top (mine was reduced fat creme fraiche at around 50kcal per 2 tbsps)
* Layer the sliced fresh figs in an attractive manner on top – or simply chuck them on! Fresh figs can be pricey but if you look out for them around autumn (fall) time then they are a bit cheaper – I got 4 for £1
* Throw the almonds over the figs, drizzle the honey on top and sprinkle the cinnamon over everything
* Serve and enjoy – mine was wolfed down in less than 2 minutes!
Energy 455 kcal / 1904 kJ
Serves 2 (just double ingredients and use a larger baking dish to feed 4)
This is a real humdinger of a leftovers dish. It allows you to use up your roasted chicken meat leftovers (or omit the chicken for a vegetarian dish) and any odds and ends of Mediterranean vegetables that you might have (courgettes, aubergine and mushrooms would work just as well in this dish).
The real beauty of this lasagne is that you can pack in as many vegetables as you like and, because you are roasting them, they don’t need to be in perfect form – you can catch them as they’re starting to wilt or shrivel a tad and they’ll still taste delicious roasted in oil and covered in pesto. No need for food wastage and, even better than that, one portion packs in half of your daily fibre requirements and is low in salt and saturated fats. It would make a great post exercise meal as it is high in protein to help repair muscle. Serve with a salad or some steamed green beans or mange tout.
110g lasagne sheets (approximately 6 sheets)
1 tbsp. olive oil (10g)
½ butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1.5cm cubes (700g)
1 medium red or yellow pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped (160g)
1 medium red onion, peeled and roughly chopped (150g)
100g pre-roasted chicken, shredded
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
1 small red chilli, deseeded and chopped fine
125g fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped
1 tbsp. green pesto (25g)
2 tbsp. reduced fat crème fraiche (30g)
30g grated parmesan cheese (you could use a mature cheddar if you prefer)
Freshly ground black pepper
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
- Boil a kettle of water. Place the lasagne sheets (separated from each other) in a large deep flat dish and cover with the boiled water. Place in the bottom of the oven to allow them to soften and par-cook in the hot water. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t overcook and break apart (they shouldn’t do).
- Heat the olive oil in a large, deep roasting tray in the oven for 3-5 minutes. Add the butternut squash cubes and stir to coat them in oil. Roast for 20-25 minutes.
- Add the chunks of onion and pepper to the roasting butternut squash. Stir all the veg round to coat in oil and replace in the oven. Roast for a further 20 minutes, until all are softened and starting to brown slightly.
- Add the chicken, pine-nuts, garlic and chilli to the roasted veg and stir round to coat in oil. Place the shredded spinach leaves on top of the veg and replace in the oven. Roast for a further 5-10 minutes to wilt the spinach and allow the vegetables to become infused with the chilli and garlic flavours.
- Remove the roasted chicken and vegetables from the oven (leave the oven on though cos the lasagne is going back in!) and stir the pesto through until they are all coated.
- Remove the lasagne sheets from the oven and drain off the water carefully, making sure the sheets don’t stick to each other. Hopefully they are par-cooked at this point.
- Start to assemble the lasagne. Place half of the roasted ingredients in a square or rectangular glass dish (one roughly 7” x 7” / 18cm x 18cm). Place half of the lasagne sheets on top – you can cut them to make them fit.
- Add the rest of the roasted ingredients on top and then another layer of lasagne sheets. Squash it all down as much as possible to allow the juices in the veg to cook the pasta through.
- In a separate bowl mix the low fat crème fraiche, half of the grated parmesan and nutmeg together and add black pepper to your own taste.
- Spoon this mixture on top of the lasagne and spread out smoothly to the edges. Sprinkle the rest of the parmesan evenly over the top.
- Return to the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned.
Per whole lasagne
Energy 1132 kcal / 4737 kJ
Total sugar 62.5g
Per portion (serves 2)
Energy 566 kcal / 2369 kJ
Total sugar 31.3g
There was a chill back in the UK air again this morning (at least in Yorkshire) and it felt kinda autumnal again which to me means only one thing for lunch….SOUP!
This is a really quick, classic, tasty soup to make with ingredients that you are likely to have in stock in your kitchen cupboards and freezers. Peas are a really excellent source of fibre which is helpful in regulating blood glucose levels, keeping cholesterol levels normal and keeping your bowels regular. In addition peas also contain plenty of vitamins including decent levels of iron, calcium, zinc and Vitamin C.
You could make this soup vegetarian by leaving out the ham or gammon. If you want to make alterations to the meaty elements you could use chicken stock instead of vegetable stock and substitute the ham or gammon for shredded bacon rashers (grilled before adding to the soup).
1 tbsp. olive or vegetable oil (10g)
1 small chilli, deseeded and chopped fine
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 small onions, chopped fine (120g)
1 litre vegetable stock (made with 1 x 10g stock cube)
450g frozen peas
1-2 tablespoons of fresh or frozen mint leaves, chopped fine (20g)
1 tsp. mint sauce
100g thick cut, pre-cooked good quality lean ham or gammon, cut into cubes
Ground black pepper
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and chilli and fry for approximately 30 seconds, just to infuse the oil with some flavour.
- Add the chopped onion and fry for 8-10 minutes or until softened and browned slightly.
- Add the stock with the peas and fresh mint. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 5 minutes – to cook the peas.
- Stir in the fresh mint, mint sauce and black pepper.
- Remove approximately one quarter of the soup and use a blender to blend the remaining three quarters.
- Mix all of the soup back together. Return to the heat, add the ham cubes and continue to simmer, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes.
Energy 755 kcal (3159 kJ)
Total sugars 19.0g
Per Serving (Serves 4)
Energy 189 kcal (790 kJ)
Total sugars 4.8g
1 x tbsp. of reduced fat crème fraiche = 70 kcal / 293 kJ
1 x tbsp. of low fat natural yogurt = 25 kcal / 105 kJ
A crusty roll = 130 kcal / 545 kJ