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Slim down with fiber

Fiber is essential to a healthy body, but more and more Americans are eating less and less of it.
An average person needs 25 grams of fiber each day, but the average American only eats 15 grams.
The high protein, low carbohydrate craze isn’t helping matters, and what’s more, many people don’t realize how fiber-free some food is.
“We’re buying those sugar coated cereals for children, and there’s very few nutrients in them,” said Melinda Houser, a North Carolina Cooperative Extension Agent, during “Bulk Up/Slim Down,” a workshop on fiber.
Think that bowl of salad is going to do you good?
“Remember the iceburg lettuce does not have many nutrients and does not have any fiber in it,” said Houser.
The darker the green, the more rich in fiber and other nutrients it will be.
It’s also a good rule of thumb to stay away from enriched wheat flour and stick with whole grain foods and all wheat bread.
“You have to read labels,” said Houser.
Besides whole wheat, high fiber foods include fruits, vegetables, oat bran and oatmeal. The benefits of such foods include lowered cholesterol, steady blood sugar levels and reduced risk of certain cancers.
Although fiber offers the body many benefits, it’s a nutrient best approached slowly.
“If you’re beginning to add some fiber, do it gradually because if you add it at one time, it can cause stomach cramps and all kinds of things,” said Houser.
For those who believe high fiber means low taste, a few Lincoln County locals prove otherwise with these recipes:

Flaxseed Bread
1 tablespoon of active dry yeast
1 Ñ• cups warm water
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Ð… tablespoon of salt
1 cup of flaxseed meal
3 cups fresh ground whole wheat flower

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water; set aside until bubbly, approximately five minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of honey. Mix in the remainder of the honey, oil, salt, flaxseed meal and one half of the flour, adding one half cup at a time until it makes a soft, kneadable dough. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead ten minutes or until smooth and elastic. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan. Shape the dough into a loaf and place in pan. Grease top with oil. Cover and let rise for about an hour or until doubled in bulk. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until browned on top and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool for 10 minutes and remove from pan. Best served toasted with a healthy spread.
– Contributed by Lucille Johnson

Black Bean Dip
1 16 ounce can black beans, rinsed, drained
Ð… cup salsa
1 clove garlic
Ð… cup shredded carrots
tortilla chips, baked not fried

In a blender, combine beans, ј cup salsa and garlic. Blend until smooth. Stir in remaining salsa and carrot. Cover and chill for at least one hour to allow flavors to blend. Serve dip with low-fat tortilla chips or crackers.
– Contributed by Melinda Houser

Heart-Healthy Tuna Salad
6 Ð… ounce can water-packed tuna
ј chopped onion
1 tablespoon reduced-calorie mayonnaise
ј cup diced celery
ј cup plain low fat yogurt
ј shredded carrots

Drain tuna. Rinse tuna under cold water. Combine ingredients and stir to blend well.

– Contributed by Melinda Houser
by Sarah Grano

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