You’ve probably heard: Most of us need to eat more fiber. American adults average a measly 10 to 15 grams per day. This, when the recommended daily amount to help prevent disease and promote good health is more than 25 grams.
Fiber, also known as “roughage,” keeps our bowels moving and our guts healthy. It also helps regulate cholesterol and blood sugar. So, what gives? Why aren’t we eating enough? Blame our love affair with processed foods.
Where is fiber found? In vegetables, legumes, fruit, and grains. Sit tight, we’re going to wow you with everything you need to pump up your diet with fiber. Warning: Take it slow if you’re a fiber newbie. Too much, too fast can cause gas, bloating and even constipation if you fail to stay hydrated.
1. Split peas
Say hello to this quiet superstar legume — the split pea. Split peas are seriously full of fiber —16.3 grams per cup, cooked. But they’re also high in carbs at 41 grams per cup, and easy to eat too fast.
So, treat them as a side dish like dhal, or a starter like soup to a meal that also features healthy fats. Filling and hearty enough to keep a vegetarian running, this split pea soup is easy-peas(y).
Yellow split peas give color to this South Asian riff on comfort food, lentil and spinach soup. Seasoned with healthy spices, turmeric, coriander, ginger, and chili peppers. And it’s finished with ghee, yum.
Keep a bag of lentils — brown or green — in your pantry, and you’ll never go hungry. These kitchen all-stars will cook in minutes — and they don’t need a pre-soak! A cup contains 15.6 grams of fiber.
And sure, you can turn lentils into an awesome salad (just toss warm, cooked lentils in a little lemon juice and olive oil), but classics are classic for a reason. Try this ham and lentil soup, chock full of carrots, onions, and celery.
Feel more like a burger than soup? This recipe for lentil quinoa burgers with sautéed mushrooms transforms lentils into a juicy burger patty, seasoned with garlic, cumin, and lemon, and topped with mushroom sauce.
3. Black beans
But in winter, we use them in this vegetarian black bean and sweet potato chili.You can just imagine it, can’t you, the sweetness and comforting carbs against the smoky heat of chipotle peppers?
Oh, and black beans have 15 grams of fiber per cup, and are great sources of folate, manganese, and thiamine — nutrients that will make you feel awesome.
4. Lima beans
Let’s be honest. Limas are one of the most hated vegetables. It’s probably because many of us grew up pushing boiled frozen limas under a lettuce leaf.
But we’ve got news, people. Limas must be cooked with bacon! These starchy babies need help. Like this easy Texan recipe for limas with bacon, which brings out their creamy tenderness and seasons them real good, y’all.
In this leek and lima bean soup with bacon, the beans and leeks are sautéed in bacon fat, simmered in chicken stock, and then puréed into a naturally creamy soup.
These recipes make limas taste so seriously good we’re going to start calling them by their old-school name, “butter beans.” With 13.2 grams of fiber per cup, we’re starting to like butter beans!
They’re a freaky looking vegetable, covered in tough, spiky leaves. No wonder most of us skip making them at home, and order them in restaurants any chance we get. But we’ve discovered a way to have them anytime we want. Buy a bag of frozen artichoke hearts.
Turns out it’s easy to make our favorite Italian appetizer of crispy artichokes in garlic and lemon.
And this recipe for a classic French whole artichoke with mustard vinaigrette makes it ridiculously easy and delicious to get 10.3 grams of fiber.
The simplest way to cook peas is to simmer them in a little salted water, until they are tender, about 5 minutes. Fresh mint is awesome with peas, and so are onions and ham.
Puréeing veggies to create a base for the main protein makes them seem more special. This recipe for seared scallops and pea puree takes 15 minutes to put together. And along with 8.8 grams of fiber per cup, it’s high in vitamin A and C.
Another controversial vegetable, broccoli is so healthy it’s worth working on a relationship. Broccoli provides 5.1 grams of fiber per cup and is a powerhouse of Vitamin A and C.
A recipe for basic steamed broccoli is a staple in our repertoire and the foundation for many variations… cheese sauce, anyone?
Ever notice how a lot of people only want to eat the broccoli florets? Well, this recipe for paleo broccoli fritters is a revelation of unexplored deliciousness — and it just uses the broccoli stems!
8. Brussels sprouts
Talk about a reputation rehab! Brussels sprouts have become so In, they’re almost Out. Just saying, spare us any more brussels with candied nuts or fruits.
The discovery that changed the brussels sprouts game was when cooks cut them in half and got ‘em good and brown, bringing out their natural sweetness, like in this recipe for sauteed brussels sprouts.
This is really the only recipe you need, and the only thing that could make it better are caramelized onions. Hold the dried cranberries. Bring on the fiber — 4.1 grams per cup!
Being a fool is a good thing when raspberries are in season. Easy raspberry fool is a luscious blend of whipped cream, homemade raspberry sauce and fresh raspberries.
Raspberry crisp is an essential summer dessert. We make this recipe healthier by adding oat flour and chopped nuts to the crisp topping.
For dessert, we’ve simply served bowls of raspberries with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. Little did everyone know there were 8 grams of fiber in every cup of berries. No fooling!
Blackberries call out for being cooked in a cobbler. Hear them? “Cover us in a golden blanket, a sweet biscuit, just like Mama’s mama did. We replace the 2 percent milk in this recipe with whole milk because that’s how our Grammy rolled.
These days fruits appear in savory dishes. And while some of us are still adjusting to the idea, this blackberry lemon salad is a simple introduction. Mixing sweet berries with salad tossed in tart lemon dressing offers 7.6 grams of fiber per cup.
Yes, technically, it’s a fruit. And its creamy consistency and fresh flavor have made it the most popular breakfast toast at our local coffee house. You already know how to make that. Mash it!
Avocado adds creamy goodness to this Mexican-inspired chicken, black bean, avocado and radish salad.
But did you know that it’s also an awesome, and undetectable, healthy ingredient in avocado chocolate mousse? We’re in love with this dessert and its 6.7 grams of fiber per half a raw avocado. Few foods deserve the title of “superfood” more than the avocado.
Pears poached in wine are a sophisticated side dish that pair (heh) wonderfully with roasted meat. Or, for dessert add a dollop of sweetened mascarpone cheese and toasted nuts.
In this recipe for herb-roasted pork tenderloin with pears, the fruit cooks with the meat, the sweet flavors caramelizing together.
Of course, nothing’s better than a ripe juicy Bartlett pear in fall, and you’ll get the most fiber — 4.6 grams — when you eat it raw.
13. Bran flakes
If we were playing password and the word was “bran,” our answer would be “what are muffins.” Store-bought can be too sweet by half, so we like to use this bran muffin recipe, which gets a light texture from buttermilk.
And we’re not ashamed to admit that sometimes dinner for us is a bowl of cereal. A serving of bran flakes has 7 grams fiber per cup, and the milk and a banana adds calcium and potassium.
14. Whole-wheat pasta
Whole wheat penne stands up to a hearty sauce of broccoli (another high-fiber veg, remember?) and chicken sausage. Including high-fiber vegetables in your sauce boosts whole wheat pasta’s 6.3 grams of fiber per cooked cup.
15. Pearled barley
Barley conjures up thoughts of winter, of soups and Scotch broth. But our favorite way to eat it is in a summer barley salad with herbs. And you know what? We slashed cooking time using 10-minute pearled barley.
Barley’s starchiness also lends itself to a risotto technique in this pearl barley risotto with roasted squash, red peppers, and rocket. Rocket is what English people call arugula, BTW. A cup of cooked barley has 6 grams of fiber, and a low glycemic score.
It might surprise you to learn that beer is not the only drink made from barley. This summer barley tea is a favorite in Japan.
It’s breakfast, foremost. Familiar, warm, comforting, adaptable and easy. And we love that bloggers have come up with how to make oatmeal stove-top and in the microwave.
You can up the 4 grams of fiber with the addition of carrots (yes, carrots!) in this special holiday breakfast of carrot cake oatmeal.
- Flaxseed meal. Add to oats, smoothies, yogurt, and baked goods. You can even try breading chicken or fish with it. Two tablespoons contain 3.8 grams of fiber and a dose of omega-3 fatty acids to boot.
- Chia seeds. These have a whopping 5.5 grams of fiber per tablespoon. When they meet with water, they form a goopy gel that is great for thickening smoothies, and making healthy puddings. You can even use them as an egg replacer when baking.
- Spinach and carrots. Aren’t as high in fiber as the veggies mentioned above, they can easily be sliced or grated and snuck into many dishes without much hassle: Try adding some to banana bread, shakes, eggs, or even a homemade pizza base.
- Food processors. Are fiber’s best friend. Purée some cooked vegetables and add them to sauces and stews, or swap out rice for “riced”cauliflower.
Note: Nutrition facts in this article comes from nutritiondata.self.com. Also, the amount of fiber in these foods can vary slightly between the raw and cooked versions.