I can't tout the benefits of fiber enough. From providing satiety and cholesterol-lowering effects to improving gut motility and blood-sugar control, the positive effects are numerous. Add in the fact that fiber is linked with aiding in healthy weight management and decreasing the risk for chronic illnesses (such as heart disease), and you can see why health specialists keep hounding us to eat more of the stuff.
It's well known that Americans don't get enough fiber in their diets. On average we consume only about 15 g fiber per day, falling short of the general recommendations of 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. So how can you incorporate more fiber-rich foods in your diet? The good news is that you don't have to feel limited to simply going for prunes or a bed of lettuce every day. There are plenty of other fiber sources out there that can be incorporated into everyday recipes. I am a self-described fiber fiend, and I'm always looking for subtle ways to sneak fiber into anything I make in the kitchen.
This is a recent favorite recipe of mine that incorporates whole wheat couscous, flaxseed, granola, nut sources and fruit, all of which contribute a fiber punch. Balanced with the fiber-rich ingredients, as well as protein and healthy fats, these breakfast bars are sure to help keep you full and provide lasting energy to get you through your morning. They also provide a great source of whole grains, along with some heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. And you can always feel free to experiment with different ingredients such as other whole grains (quinoa, oats), nuts (almonds, walnuts), or fruits (cranberries, blueberries) that fit your preferences.
Nutty Chocolate Couscous Breakfast Bars
Recipe developed by Katrina Waters, RDN
Makes 12 bars
1 1/4 cups whole wheat couscous (cooked)
1 1/4 cups granola
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks or carob chips
1/4 cup chopped pistachios (about 45 pieces)
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Cook the couscous in the microwave or on the stove according to the package directions. Let cool for about 15 minutes. In a large bowl, stir together couscous, granola and ground flaxseed. Fold in chocolate chips, cherries and pistachios.
- In a separate small bowl, stir together the peanut butter, honey and vanilla extract. Heat in microwave for about 30 seconds until warm and let cool.
- Pour peanut butter honey mixture over dry ingredients and stir until the entire mixture is moist.
- Line a 9×13" baking dish with wax paper or aluminum foil. Pour mixture into dish and firmly pack and spread mixture into corners and sides. (Try to pack mixture as tight as possible.)
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, then cut into 12 squares. Served best cold.
- Note: It works well to individually wrap the bars for convenience in eating on the go.