Stairway To Heaven: Step Up To High Fiber Health

By: Stephanie Shank

The food pyramid is not a new concept. However, for the first time in more than a decade, the USDA has updated the food pyramid based on the latest scientific findings on how to treat your body to better health. Awareness of the benefits of healthy food choices, like high fiber foods, has been more and more prevalent in our proactive American quest for wise nutrition.

Fiberlady has continually emphasized a fruitful (one must learn to appreciate the pun) diet for her high fiber imperative. The undeniable truth is that vegetables, fruits and whole grains are needed for daily vitamins, minerals and fiber.

The first step (orange) of the new food pyramid recommends eating 5-8 ounces of grains per day depending on age and gender. Whole grains breads, cereals and brown rice are among the healthy choices. One step up (green) on the pyramid are the vegetables and fiber-rich plants. It is recommended 2˝ cups of vegetables per day to include a variety of legumes, leafy greens and orange colored vegetables such as butternut or acorn squash. Next, the red step represents fruits. Eating two cups of fruit a day is the standard guideline.

Overall, here are the daily recommendations:
3 to 5 servings of vegetables
2 to 4 servings of fruits
2 to 3 servings of milk, yogurt & cheese
6 to 11 servings of bread, cereal, rice, & pasta
2 to 3 servings of meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs & nuts
Use fats, oils & sweets sparingly

The new food pyramid recognizes the essential role of dietary fiber every day. A high fiber diet helps to lower high cholesterol levels, aids in weight loss, controls diabetes, reduces the risk of colon cancer, lowers blood pressure and helps to curb heart disease.

In cultures where the foods are high in fiber and the fiber remains intact, there is a much lower rate of cancer. High fiber foods sweep out the colon, helping to prevent high concentrations of carcinogens from sticking around. Foods that are highly processed and overly refined (way too much of this stuff dominates our grocery shelves) attribute to the growing rate of cancer and other chronic diseases in our society.

Create and adapt your own nutritional plan based upon MyPyramid; choose wisely, and get plenty of exercise. The important lesson is that every change you make towards a healthier you is a positive step. Fiberlady asks you to learn an important new mantra. "Every little step counts."

And don't let anyone tell you differently... wheat is cracked up to what it's supposed to be.

Vegetable Stew w/Cracked Wheat in Bread Bowl
6 servings


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 - 14 ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 - 8 ounce can tomato sauce
1 -10.5 ounce can low-fat chicken broth
2/3 cup cracked wheat
1 - 16 ounce can kidney beans, drained
1 - 16 ounce can green beans, drained
1/4 cup fresh parsley
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add onion and garlic and sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add zucchini and mushrooms and cook 5 minutes.

Add Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, tomatoes, chicken broth, and wheat. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Uncover, add kidney beans, green beans and parsley; simmer until heated through. Ladle into each bread bowl. Sprinkle with cheese.

per serving: Calories: 292; Total fat: 7 grams
Fiber: 14 grams

Whole Wheat Bread Bowls
Servings: 6 4-inch bowls

1 1/4 cups warm water (105-115°F)
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/4 to 2 3/4 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon milk


Preheat oven to 400°F.

Measure water into large bowl; sprinkle in yeast and stir until dissolved. Add sugar, salt, oil, and 1 1/4 cups bread flour; beat until smooth. Add whole wheat flour and enough additional bread flour to make stiff dough. Turn onto lightly floured board; knead until smooth and elastic, 10 to 12 minutes. Place dough in bowl that has been lightly coated with nonstick spray, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm place until double, about 1 hour.

Grease outside of 6 ovenproof bowls that are approximately 4-inches in diameter (10-ounce custard cups).

Punch dough down; divide into 6 pieces. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Spread each piece into a circle about 6 inches in diameter. Place over outside of bowl, working dough with hands until it fits. Set bowls, dough side up, on baking sheet coated with nonstick spray. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Combine egg and milk; gently brush mixture on dough. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Using potholders, carefully remove the bowls. Set bread bowls, open side up on baking pan; bake 5 minutes.

*Frozen bread dough can be used. A one-pound loaf will make 4 bowls.

Per bread bowl: Calories: 306; Total Fat: 4 grams
Fiber: 4 grams

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Stephanie Shank aka Fiberlady has studied nutrition for many healthy years which prompted her commitment to a high fiber lifestyle and the development of her informative website High Fiber Health.

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