Monday, January 24, 2011

Getting Enough Fiber: Eat Your Vegetables!

Lately I have been seeing articles on vegan and vegetarian diets everywhere. While this immeasurably cheers me, the recipes and articles go hand in hand with misinformation. Almost every mention of the word vegan I see is quickly followed by a discussion of how to get enough protein and calcium. Having already addressed both of these topics before, I will simply suggest that you check out my previous posts, The Protein Myth and The Calcium Query. And if you still have questions, feel free to email me; I would love to hear from you!

While protein and calcium are an important part of anyone’s diet, there are plenty of other vital nutrients that deserve our attention, like fiber. Fiber is an important contributor to weight loss, heart health, and healthy cholesterol and glucose levels. Getting enough fiber can help lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. The American Dietetic Association recommends that you get 25 to 30 g of fiber per day, but asserts that most Americans get only half that. Fiber is abundantly found in legumes, grains, greens, fruits, and other vegetables. There is no fiber, however, in animal products, like meat, milk, and eggs. Most importantly, artificially incorporated forms of fiber, like fiber-rich yogurts and candy bars, don’t provide any of the benefits of natural fiber sources. A vegan diet is rich in fiber, relying primarily on vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. This dish is the perfect example of how delicious fiber can be. Moral of the story: eat your vegetables!

Tuscan White Bean Stew

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small can diced tomatoes
2 small cans Cannellini beans
2 cups vegetable stock
1 bunch dinosaur kale, deribbed and chopped
Salt and pepper
1 loaf of good bread

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion and carrots and sauté until tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the Cannellini beans, tomatoes, and stock. Brink to a boil, and simmer until reduced and thickened, about 20 minutes. Add the kale, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, slice the bread, and brush with olive oil. Broil until golden brown, flipping the bread halfway through.

Serve the soup immediately with a side of bread.

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