Fibre is a term associated with our body and its nutrition, and must be kept on track in order to find a perfect balance to keep ourselves healthy and active.
Fibre is also linked to digestive health and bowel functions, but it is advised to have a diet rich in fibre in order to lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes and to help us maintain a healthy weight. It also benefits skin health, assists in easing out bowel movements, flushes out carcinogens and also keeps cholesterol levels in check..
Some of us also refer to fibre as roughage which is essentially part of plant-based foods such as grains, nuts, beans, fruits and vegetables which basically pass through the body undigested since the body cannot break them down keeping the digestive system clean and healthy.
There are 2 basic types of fibre which we should be aware of:
1. Soluble Fibre: this kind of fibre dissolves well in water and helps to control our blood sugar levels. Some common examples include oatmeal, beans, nuts, barley, pears, citrus fruits, apples.
2. Insoluble Fibre: this kind does not easily dissolve in water and help to prevent ailments such as constipation. Some of them include whole grains, wheat cereals, a few vegetables like tomatoes and carrots.
While some foods contain a combination of both types, it is recommended to go for the foods which are unprocessed and can be consumed fresh – the more natural the food, the better the fibre!
Here are a few easy to adapt tips on including beneficial fibre in our diet:
1. According to nutrition and health studies, 20 to 35 grams of fibre per day per individual is recommended, keeping all the other factors such as age and gender, lifestyle and activity levels in mind. Studies have shown that most people do not consume even half of what is needed. An important note here when dealing with fibre is that it absorbs a lot of water, hence we need to increase our fluid intake.
2. ‘Fibre for a good day’s start’ should be the mantra, and there are some easy ways of doing so by adding whole grain cereals to that bowl of cornflakes, which can boost fibre intake, also try adding a few spoons of unprocessed whole wheat bran cereal to your breakfast bowl and this applies to yoghurt as well.
It is also known that berries are a great source of fibre, so reach for the blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, etc and add them in.
3. Replace to revive – We can switch from white rice to brown rice to start with few times a week or so, once we get accustomed to the taste and its uses, which are numerous, it starts to work. Also, choose whole-grain bread for your toast and sandwiches because they are truly good.
4. Count those snacks as we are aware in these times of work from home and lockdowns we tend to binge into those fried chips and unhealthy snacks around us to entice our self but it is recommended to bite into fresh and dry fruits keep them handy, whole-grain crackers and low sugar biscuits etc in small quantities.
5. Eating whole and full is the moral of the story – we have a habit of peeling off the potatoes, carrots, apples and pears, but the real fibre and nutrients are being washed away. Clean and rinse them well and try having them all with the skin for more benefits. Include more vegetables in your diet like broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, baby corn, red capsicums, French beans etc.
6. Use seeds more effectively in your diets, especially flax seeds as they have a lot of nutritional benefits to offer us. Try adding them in powdered form into your breads and rotis, add them lightly toasted to your salads, dressings, toppings for your open sandwiches, into your baked dishes and also into stuffings and fillings. Various seeds like chia, muskmelon, pumpkin, white and black sesame seeds and sunflower seeds can also be incorporated.
7. Don’t neglect legumes since they are high in fibre content and loads of varieties are available to add them into our day to day cooking and menus. Some of the most common legumes are kidney beans (rajma), black-eyed peas (chauli), chickpeas (Kabuli chana) etc. It is easy to have them in the forms of dips, side dishes, main courses, baked dishes and stews, and include them as friendly fibre.
8. Fruit it up and avoid the juicing factor since it is said to be more beneficial getting fibre into our body when we eat our fruit instead of drinking or gulping it down from a glass. So, opt out of the fresh juices and instead enjoy a mouthful of the goodness of that fresh fruit and reap the maximum out of it.
Here are a few fibre-rich, simple and easy to make recipes:
CHICKPEA & VEG STEW
- 1 cup chickpeas – boiled
- 2 tsp oil/olive oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 3-4 black peppercorns
- 1 tsp garlic- chopped
- 1 small onion- chopped
- ½ cup tomato puree
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ tsp mixed herbs
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ¼ cup carrots- cut into cubes
- 2 Potato- cut into cubes
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp coriander powder
- 2 tsp tomato ketchup
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 2-3 tbsp celery – chopped
- 2-3 cups water/vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp coriander/basil/parsley
- Prepare all the ingredients for the recipe.
- Heat oil/olive oil in a pan. Add in the bay leaf, peppercorns, onions, garlic and sauté for a few seconds.
- Add the boiled chickpeas, celery, carrots, potatoes, tomato puree, salt, pepper and all powdered spices and mix well. – use any choice of veggies or non-veg here.
- Add in some water or stock and cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.
- Check for texture and add liquid as needed, vegetables should be soft yet crunchy. Add in the tomato sauce, vinegar and fresh herbs and mix well, cook for 2 minutes.
- Serve hot with whole-grain bread/toasts as a main course.
HEALTHY QUINOA & VEG PULAO
- 1 cup quinoa- soaked for 20 minutes in 3 cups water
- ½ cup green peas/assorted veggies- boiled or blanched
- ½ cup boiled black-eyed peas (chauli)
- 2 tsp oil/butter
- 1-inch piece cinnamon
- 3- 4 cloves
- 1 tsp garlic – chopped
- 1 small onion – chopped
- 1 small tomato – chopped
- 2 green chillies – chopped
- 1 tsp ginger – chopped
- ½ tsp garam masala powder
- 1 tsp flax seeds
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3-4 cups water/veg stock
- 2 tbsp parsley/ mint/ mixed herbs/ coriander leaves
- 2 tsp lime juice
- 2 tbsp fried cashews and raisins for garnish
- 2 tbsp fried brown onions for garnish
- Prepare all the ingredients for the pulao.
- Heat oil/butter/ghee in a pan and add the whole spices and onions and sauté well, add chillies and ginger and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add in the soaked quinoa, salt, pepper and other spices just for a mild flavour and mix well. Add in water/stock enough to cover the quinoa and cover, simmer and cook. After around 10 minutes, check for the level of water and add as needed.
- Cook for another 4-5 minutes and then add in the blanched assorted veggies/green peas, black-eyed peas, flax seeds and fresh herbs and mix lightly. Cover and simmer for another 3-4 minutes.
- Serve hot garnished with nuts of your choice, add a dash of lime juice and serve it with a bowl of yoghurt or raita.
GOODNESS OF FIBER SALAD BOWL
For the base of the salad:
- 2 cups assorted lettuce leaves – Iceberg/Lolla Rossa/Romaine/Chicory etc – cleaned and refreshed with ice-cold water.
For the body of the salad:
- 1 cup brown rice – boiled/cooked
- ½ cup boiled sweet potato – cubed
- ½ cup beans sprouts/moong sprouts – lightly steamed
- 1 small apple with skin – cubed
- 1 beetroot – boiled and cut into cubes
- 1 cucumber- cut into cubes
For the salad dressing:
- 2 tbsp date puree
- ¼ cup fresh orange segments/juice
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tsp honey
- 8-10 mint leaves
- 2 tsp chia/flax seeds/melon seeds
- 2 tsp ginger juice
For the garnish of the salad:
- 2 tbsp microgreens
- 2 tbsp fresh basil/ parsley/coriander
- fresh pomegranate seeds/olives/cherry tomatoes/gherkins – as desired
- Prepare all the ingredients for the salad bowl.
- Keep all ingredients chilled until being used.
- In a mixing bowl combine together ingredients for dressing and stir is well, add a little olive oil if desired or some vinegar.
- Arrange the base and body in a nice presentable serving dish or bowl clearly placing out all colours in the salad.
- Just before serving drizzle the dressing over the salad and lightly toss it and garnish as desired.
About the author:
Dr Kaviraj Khialani, Celebrity Master Chef, is a Mumbai-based Food, Health & Lifestyle Consultant. He is a Master Chef in over 33 international cuisines and is a recipient of the prestigious Bharat Vidya Ratan Award, The Best Chef Asia Award and many more. Over two decades, Chef Kaviraj has worked with some of the finest organisations such as the Taj Group, Kuwait Airways. He has also been featured on a number of television food shows. He is an author, academician, coach and mentor to aspiring chefs and hoteliers.