by Kim Beavers, MS, RD, LD, CDE

The month of February is American Heart month and the month of Valentine’s Day. Fiber has a long standing relationship with heart health in that it lowers cholesterol, thus a perfect topic for February. In addition to heart health, I’d like to go on record and say, eating a high fiber diet is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. One of my mentors believed that adequate fiber intake (through foods) was the key to health and decreased chronic disease. I believe that concept even more strongly after 20 plus years in the field of nutrition.  Want to eat a heart healthy diet? Eat more fiber! Fiber is found in whole plant foods (whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes).

Benefits of fiber:

• Fiber helps to reduce cholesterol

• Fiber helps to regulate blood sugar

• Fiber helps to prevent constipation and maintains gut health

• Fiber helps produce a feeling of fullness (it is satiating)

How do you increase the fiber in your diet? One step at a time!

Begin by assessing your diet. Then add one fiber rich food to your diet each day.

Assess your diet:

Do you eat 3 whole grains a day? θ Yes θ No

Do you eat 2 fruits a day (not juice)? θ Yes θ No

Do you eat 3-5 servings of vegetables

a day? θ Yes θ No

Do you “nibble” on nuts for snack? θ Yes θ No

Do you include beans in your diet 3 times

a week? θ Yes θ No

If you checked “no” to any of the above then you have room to improve your fiber intake. Replace one lower fiber food with a higher fiber food each day to begin your journey toward a fiber rich diet.


Cuban Black Beans

Beans are a fabulous economical way to add more fiber to the diet. Use this delicious recipe to meet the goal of 3 servings of beans a week. It is a perfect side dish; topper for a grain bowl or an awesome snack.

1 ½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
½ green bell pepper, finely chopped
½ red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon cumin
2 (14.5-ounce) cans reduced sodium black beans
1 lime (divided use)
Cilantro (optional but delicious)
Chopped onion (optional but delicious)

Place a nonstick skillet over medium heat and add oil. Once hot add the onion and pepper and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes (stir occasionally).

Next add the garlic, salt, oregano, cumin and one can of beans with the bean liquid. Drain the other can of beans and add to the pan.  Allow mixture to cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Cut the lime in half and squeeze half into the beans just before serving. Serve with remaining lime and optional garnishes if desired.

Yield: 8 servings (Serving size: ½ cup)

Nutrition Breakdown: Calories 90, Fat 2.5g (0g saturated fat), Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 280mg, Carbohydrate 17g, Fiber 6g, Protein 5g.

Diabetes Exchanges: 1 Starch, ½ Vegetable

Kim’s Note: Instead of using canned beans you can make your beans in the slow cooker or Instant Pot. Making your own beans usually saves $2.00 per pound of beans. The Cuban Black Bean recipe uses 3 cups of beans; if you make your own beans you will have 3 cups leftover. Freeze the leftover beans in 1-1/2 cup portions (equivalent to 1 can of beans) in freezer safe containers or zip-top bags. They will keep for 3-4 months.

Slow Cooker Black Beans

1 pound beans

2 tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon sea salt; divided use

8-12 cups water + 8 cups water; divided use

In a large pan or the crock of a slow cooker (if large enough) dissolve 2 tablespoons of salt in 8-12 cups of water and add the beans – soak overnight in the refrigerator.  After the overnight soak, drain the beans and rinse.  Add beans to the crock of a slow cooker, with 8 cups of water (or enough water to cover the beans by about 2-inches).  Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to the slow cooker, stir and cook for 8 hours on low. Yield: 6 cups of cooked beans (equivalent to 4 cans).

Instant Pot Black Beans

1 pound beans

2 tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon sea salt; divided use

8-12 cups water + 6 cups water

In a large pan dissolve 2 tablespoons of salt in 8-12 cups of water and add the beans – soak overnight in the refrigerator.  After the overnight soak, drain the beans and rinse. Add the rinsed and sorted beans to the inner pot of the electric pressure cooker with 6 cups water.  Select bean setting and cook for 25 minutes. Once the cooking is done, allow pressure to naturally release for about 10 minutes. Then manually release pressure and carefully remove the lid (always remove the lid facing away from your face). Yield: 6 cups of cooked beans (equivalent to 4 cans).

 

Kim Beavers is a Registered Dietitian and Diabetes Educator for University Health Care System. She lives in North Augusta with her husband and two children and she is the co-host of the culinary nutrition segment Eating Well with Kim, which airs at noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday on WRDW. To be notified of new recipes join Kim’s facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/eatingwellwithkim. To search for specific recipes go to www.universityhealth.org/ewwk. You can also watch the segments at www.wrdw.com/ewwk.

 

This article appears in the February 2019 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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