Health Notes #27

The Essential Fibers

In Health Notes #2 we discussed fiber in the diet and why it is needed. Now lets get a little more specific and learn just what foods are best to give us more of that helpful fiber.

Fiber, simply put, is that part of your food that passes through the small intestine undigested.

The average American diet contains most of its calories from non-fiber types of foods as the following:

20% = Meat sources
20% = Refined Cereals
18% = Visible Fats (oils)
17% = Sugar
12% = Milk
2% = Eggs
2% = Alcohol
91% of calories with little fiber

The U.S. Department of Agriculture tells us that our ancestors ate 12gms. of fiber daily. Today we average less than 0.1gm. Food-as-grown is more nutritionally balanced. However refinement strips food of most of its fiber and nutrients. For instance, strip seven pounds of sugar beets of their bulk, fiber, and nutrients, and you get one pound of "pure" sugar!

Fiber is found only in legumes, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts. 5 slices of whole wheat bread equals 40 slices of white bread in fiber content. Its presence in the large intestine is very important. Fiber attracts and binds water in the large bowel. As a result the fecal mass is large and soft and passes quickly through the colon instead of hard and small from low fiber. Fiber acts as a broom to sweep out cancer-causing substances from the bowel.

Here is a list of some fiber foods:

  • High Fiber Foods: peas, beans, mature legumes, some nuts, wheat bran.
  • Moderate Fiber Foods: cereals and whole grain flours, yams, kale, broccoli, blackberries, peanuts.
  • Less Fiber Foods: most fruits and vegetables.

To insure getting enough dietary fiber, eat a good variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains, and eliminate or use sparingly those foods that contain little or no fiber.

The effort in making the transition will be worth it in the way you will feel. Give it a try!

Since beans are so high in fiber here are a few of my favorite recipes.

(Check Notes #16 and 22 for two others.)


This is an interesting and delicious, fun way to serve beans and salad in the same dish. An all-in-one meal.

To serve: Place corn chips or croutons on a plate. Spoon pinto beans on top. Then layer with the following: shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, finely diced onions, chopped black olives and cheese sauce.*

Add or subtract items, be creative, make it a family project, each having a different ingredient to get ready.

* Cheese Sauce

2 c. water
3 T. lemon juice
1/4 c. tahini
1/2 c. yeast flakes
1-1/4 tsp. salt
1 T. onion pwd.
1/4 tsp. garlic pwd.
1/3 c. pimentos (opt.)

After blending all ingredients on high for one minute start adding cooked rice or potato as you continue blending until it is the consistency you want. For haystacks it should be like a thick salad dressing. This may be used also as a salad dressing, over vegetables, or spread on bread and toasted in the oven.

Hummus (sandwich spread)

2 c. cooked garbanzos
5 T. lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic pwd.
1/3-1/2 c. garbanzo juice or water
1-1/4 tsp. onion pwd.
1/2 c. tahini

Blend all ingredients on high until creamy. A delicious spread or dip. For a dressing, double the liquid.

Bean Spread

Pinto Beans
Lemon Juice
Salt as needed

Mash desired amount of beans. Blend all of the above or just the items your family likes, adding mayonnaise for the right consistency.

Canned Beans

The quickest way I have found to cook my beans is in a pressure cooker. To make it doubly easy I put 1-1/3 c. beans in each of 7 quart jars, fill it with water and soak overnight. In the morning I drain off the water and fill it with fresh to 1/2 inch of the top. Add 1 tsp. of salt then add a lid and jar ring. Put the seven jars into the pressure cooker. These beans can be a variety, black beans, garbanzos, soy, navy etc. Pressure the beans at 10 lb. for about one hour. Open whenever needed for a quick main dish.

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