by Kim Beavers, MS, RD, LD, CDE

Holidays and sweet treats fit together, but holidays and fiber, maybe not so much.  I’d like to change that – now don’t get me wrong I am a fan of the occasional sweet treat, but I am a bigger fan of health. Consider these well known facts with health in mind.

Fact one: Americans eat more sugar than is recommended. The average American eats 14 to 20 teaspoons of sugar per day. Children and teens consume slightly more than adults.

• The American Heart Association recommendations for added sugar are gender based. It is recommended that women and children consume no more than 6 teaspoons and men no more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar per day. 

• The primary sources of added sugar in the diet are sugar-sweetened beverages, baked goods and dairy rich desserts (such as ice cream).

Fact two: Most Americans do not consume enough fiber averaging about 14g of fiber per day.

• Adults should consume 25-35g of fiber per day for health and wellness. Children need slightly less fiber ranging from 14g-22g per day depending on age.

• Fiber is found in plant foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and beans).

There is a disconnect between what adults and children are consuming and what they should be consuming for health maintenance.  Over the holidays sugar becomes an even larger presence in social gatherings while plant foods (fiber rich foods) take a backseat. But during this hurried time of the year I challenge you to take a few simple steps to enhance the presence of plant foods in your diet while keeping sugar at bay. Simple steps result in the greatest success.  “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” ~ Henry Ford.

1) Enjoy plenty of fiber rich foods (beans peas, lentils, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables).  Make a big pot of bean soup for quick meals throughout the week and include vegetables at 2 meals a day-or more. Often fruit, which is both fiber rich and sweet, is all you need to satisfy a sweet craving. Keep fruit out on the counter for easy grab and go snacks or cut up for easy eating from the refrigerator.

2) Eat 3 balanced meals a day. Fill half of your plate with non-starch vegetables, and be sure to add some protein and healthy fat. When hungry it is natural to want the most calories with the least effort, usually sweets are what we crave. Including protein and healthy fat (extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados) to your meals will keep you satisfied longer, which will keep sugar cravings at bay.

3) Stay well hydrated. Being slightly dehydrated will bring on cravings for food especially sugary foods. Keep water bottles filled and ready.

4) Enjoy indulgences!  Don’t let feelings of guilt take away the joy of a special sweet indulgence. Keep quality and quantity in mind when choosing holiday splurges and then simply enjoy!

This month’s recipe was selected specifically because it is high in fiber, nutrition and has a touch of sweetness from the sweet potatoes. It also provides ample leftovers making hurried dinner meals easy during a busy time of year. Until next time, eat well, live well.

Smoky Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

The sweet potatoes provide an interesting taste and texture to this chili.  The smokiness of chipotle pepper adds a special dimension and flavor.   

1 tablespoon organic canola oil

2 large onions, finely diced

6 garlic cloves

2 red bell peppers, chopped

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice

2 cups black beans, presoaked

1 ½ cups water

2 (14 ounce) cans petite diced tomatoes

¼ cup tomato paste

½ teaspoon salt

Heat the oil in an electric pressure cooker on the sear setting.   Add the onions and cook for 3 minutes. Add the garlic, red peppers and spices and cook another 2 minutes.  Add the sweet potatoes, black beans and water.  Lock the lid and select the bean setting and press start, adjust the time to 25 minutes.  Once the cook time is done, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes then press the steam-release button to release the remaining pressure.

When the pressure is down, remove the lid tilting it away from you.  Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and salt.  Cook using the sear function for about 5 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down into a sauce.  Serve over rice, or other grain, garnished with cilantro.

Yield: 8 Servings

Nutrition Breakdown: Calories 260, Fat 2.5g (0g saturated, 1g monounsaturated fat), Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 280mg, Carbohydrate 50g, Fiber 14g, Protein 12g.

Percent Daily Value: 160% Vitamin A, 110% Vitamin C, 10% Calcium, 30% Iron.

Diabetes Exchanges: 2 Vegetables, 2 Carbohydrates, 1 Lean Meat

Adapted for electric pressure cooker and used with permission form The Veggie Queen™ from “Vegetables Get The Royal Treatment© 2007


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 To search for specific recipes go to You can also watch the segments at


This article appears in the November 2018 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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