Our Big Problem With Fiber

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 12.40.48 PMWhen it comes to fiber, “The real problem is we don’t know we have a problem,” says Julie Miller Jones, Ph.D, LN, CNS, professor emeritus at St. Catherine University.

I couldn’t agree more.

On any given day, 30%-50% of my clients are constipated—which most often corresponds to fiber intake. Add to that the number of parents who realize during our visits that they too must be lacking fiber.

An article posted on Science Daily recaps Dr. Jones’s recent symposium at IFT15: Where Science Feeds Innovation hosted by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) in Chicago. Research shows that Americans have fallen significantly short of fiber requirements, 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women. Men typically get around 18 grams and women get around 15 grams. Yikes!

Naturally fibrous foods are crucial to digestion, as well as maintaining overall health. It’s abundant in many fruits and veggies, as well as beans and whole grains.

The good news is that the solution to low fiber (and thereby constipation) is simply to eat more fibrous foods and less processed foods. The bad news, as you know, is that change is hard.

Starchy (and therefore constipating) Foods

White flour
White rice
Cereal that’s not whole oat, bran or whole wheat
Pizza crust
White refined sandwich buns

Fibrous Alternatives

Old fashioned oats
Whole wheat
Brown rice
Fruits and veggies

Try these 3 ways to increase fiber intake:

  1. Eat more fruits and veggies: Dark colored vegetables, like carrots, beets and broccoli typically contain more fiber. Exotic fruits, apples (especially the peels) and oranges are full of fiber.
  2. Add beans: You can add beans to so many dishes: pastas, lasagna, stir fry and stews. Try white beans or cannellini beans to add the fiber without a lot of “bean” flavor.
  3. Eat soup: Okay, so it’s hot right now. But normally, soup is a great way to eat a lot of fibrous vegetables and beans.
  4. Stick to whole grain starches: If the starch ain’t brown, it’s gonna struggle getting down! This is especially important with breakfast. Cereals like Rice Krispies, Special K and of course sugary cereals are mostly made of simple starches that clog up the system. Try whole grain oats cereals like Cheerios, steel cut oats or granola.

Institute of Food Technologists (IFT). (2015, July 13). Consumers should seek a variety of fiber sources to get the maximum health benefits. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 21, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150713144126.htm

Our Official F2S Chef

Lynette Becker, who joined Feed to Succeed this summer as an intern, soon became our official chef. Working tirelessly to develop our first F2S cookbook from our meal plans, Lynette’s little kitchen has become an official bloggers’ test kitchen.

For Lynette, cooking has always been her passion. Prior to working at UIC on her degree to become a registered dietitian, Lynette ran a bed and breakfast in Arizona where she made breakfast and dinner daily. For as long as she can remember, says Lynette, “I’ve always been looking at recipes and doctoring them up.”

Lynette also worked in a health food store, specializing in allergy-friendly foods, which sparked her interest in helping people eat healthier. There, says Lynette, people would come in with all sorts of food issues. Lynette started researching how one qualifies to become a nutritionist and found that anyone can call themselves “nutritionist.” What she needed was a degree to become an RD. “That was science-based and research-based, and that’s what I wanted.”

On this summer off from classes, Lynette has been shadowing Betsy in the office, in addition to working on the cookbook. She says Betsy has an ability to make diets that are really strict seem manageable. “Where I used to see people in the healt food shop look like deer in headlights with list of foods they can’t eat, Betsy’s empowering them with foods they can eat.”

She goes on to say, “The meal plan is such a gift. It’s not just recipes but showing people how to put them together. This is going to lighten the load for families.”

Stay tuned for our first online F2S Cookbook, focusing on gluten free recipes in the coming weeks!

3 Ways to Shake a Salt Habit

ShakingBy Gia Diakakis, MS, RD, LDN, CNSC

Healthy eating habits are formed in childhood, which is why it is imperative to eat healthfully at an early age. Luckily, as parents, you are often in charge of what foods your child has available. That’s certainly true when it comes to salt.

Often referred to as a white poison, salt is present in almost every food we eat. It can be naturally occurring in foods such as vegetables, milk, eggs, seafood, among many others. Plus, it’s found in processed and shelf stable foods in large amounts, functioning as a preservative. It’s a misconception that sodium should only be monitored in cases of chronic kidney disease, cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure. Once you grow up eating salty foods, it’s incredibly difficult to cut them out. The good news is you can train your taste buds to enjoy less salty foods by slowly reducing the consumption of salt. Better, though, to not introduce sodium from the get-go. Your kids will be ahead of the game since, according to a recent study, “High dietary sodium intake contributes to the development of high blood pressure, and thereby increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and stroke.”

Following are some tips for reducing salt at home.

1. Reduce processed foods. In eliminating processed foods, sodium consumption is often automatically reduced. Easy, right?

2. Limit salt in home-cooked meals. To take things a step further, reducing sodium intake at home will really seal the deal. It is a common held misconception that eating home cooked food is automatically healthier. There are many components of home cooked meals that can be unhealthy, but lets focus on salt. Cooking with salt, or sprinkling table salt on your food can automatically push you and your family over the recommended limit of 2,300mg. To put this into perspective, one teaspoon of salt contains around 2,300mg of salt –100% of the recommended limit. So the first step is to stop cooking with salt or high sodium seasonings (get in a habit of reading nutrition facts and looking for “Sodium”).

3. Don’t allow saltshakers at the table. A recent study evaluated the acceptance of reduced sodium meals and overall sodium intake over a 3-week period. They found not only did the individuals enjoy the reduced sodium meals, they were not able to identify that they were lower in sodium than their other meals. The finding I was most excited about was that the individuals did not increase their sodium consumption at other meals to make up for the lower sodium content at their lunch meal! This means that even reducing the salt at one meal will have a positive impact on helping you and your family reduce their sodium intake throughout the day. It just takes starting with one meal!

It is important to keep in mind that you and your family likely reach the 1,500-2,300mg recommended limit of sodium just through the consumption of foods with naturally occurring sodium.

5 Summer Fast Food Recipes

Too busy playing this summer for elaborate dinners? We’ve got just the list of fast, easy and kid-friendly dinners for you. Bon appetit!

1lb. of fish (I use Tilapia)
1T butter or olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1t soy sauce
corn tortillas
mozzarella cheese
handful of spinach
Salsa (see salsa verde recipe below)

Saute the fish over medium heat in oil or butter until brown and slightly crispy on the edges. Add the minced garlic and soy sauce and sauté one more minute. Lay on tortillas and cover with spinach and cheese. Microwave for 30 seconds. Add salsa for those who like it.


Tomatillos are a tart version of a tomato, making them perfect for salsa

Tomatillos are a tart version of a tomato, making them perfect for salsa

4 large or 6 small tomatillos
3 scallions
1 clove of garlic
1/2 a seeded jalapeno pepper
1/2 salt
juice of one lime
1/4 cup cilantro
1T olive oil

Peel the tomatillos and rinse the sticky exterior. Combine all the ingredients in the food processor.



Shredded lettuce
1 chopped tomato
corn from 2 cobs or 1 can
1 diced cucumber
3 roughly chopped scallions
Shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup prepared beans of choice (black, kidney or pinto)

Combine all ingredients in a large salad bowl.

Mexican “Meat”
1/2 package of Tempeh (available at Whole Foods or Trader Joes, near the tofu)
1T chili powder
1t olive oil
1/2t salt
Tabasco sauce to taste

Crumble Tempeh into small bits and saute in oil on medium heat until brown (about 5 minutes). Add spices and salt and saute for 1 more minute.



The pine nuts are the best part, unless you devour them before you serve the dish.

1 package of your choice pasta
1/4 cup pine nuts (dry roasted pine nuts don’t need kosher supervision, according to the CRC)
1 chopped onion
3 cloves chopped garlic
4 handfuls chopped kale or spinach (do not use frozen)
2T butter
2T dry white wine
3T freshly chopped basil
salt and pepper to taste
2 chopped tomatoes
1/2 block feta cheese

Prepare pasta according to package. Roast the pine nuts over a dry pan on medium heat for 2 minutes. Shake pan and roast 2 minutes more. The smell is divine, so restrain yourself and do not to eat them all.

Saute onion and garlic over butter on medium heat until soft. Add kale or spinach and saute until soft (1 minute for spinach and about 5 for kale).

Add wine and spices. Pour vegetables over pasta and add fresh tomatoes and feta. Top with pine nuts.


1 cup cooked brown rice
1 can or 1 cup dried black beans
Tortillas (I like Trader Joes because they aren’t filled with unnecessary ingredients)
1 tomato
Spinach (optional, but must be fresh)
Chedder cheese

Optional toppings: Sour cream, salsa (see my post on the food processor for a homemade recipe), cilantro, green onions, avocado

All that’s required to prepare for this meal is the rice (and beans if you use dried). I cook the rice, then add the beans (and spinach if you’re using it) to the same pot, and then spoon it on top of a tortilla for each person. Add the cheese and pop it into the microwave for 30 seconds.  Add the toppings to each person’s liking.

For Cuban flair, add plantains to the top: slice ripened plantains and saute over vegetable oil (not olive!) on both sides until brown. Add salt and juice of one lime.


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The meatiest veggie burgers around


1 cup raw lentils
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 chopped onion
1/2 cup mushrooms
1 egg
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Old Fashioned oats
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2t salt

Prepare the lentils by rinsing them and placing them in a pot with water to cover. Add 1 clove garlic and some salt. Bring to a boil and then let simmer until soft (about 30 minutes). Drain lentils.

Add lentils and remaining ingredients to the food processor and puree until it forms a thick mixture. Place mixture in the fridge for at least 10 minutes or overnight.

Heat a frying pan with olive oil on medium heat. Scoop spoonfuls  of burger mixture into pan and let brown for a few minutes and flip to brown other side. Serve warm on bun with hamburger toppings of your choice or try the special sauce below.

1/4 cup plain yogurt
1t red wine vinegar
1T ketchup
1 clove chopped garlic
2T freshly chopped basil
1/4t salt