Throughout January, Nutracheck nutritionist Emma is going to give you some top tips that show you can eat fewer calories but still feel full and satisfied. It's all about choosing the right foods. This week – we're talking why fibre is a dieter's friend.
Fibre hit the headlines this month, billed as "the lifesaving food 90% of us aren't getting enough of". A major study confirmed it has huge benefits for health. However as a nation, we're falling way short of getting enough in our diet – 30g a day is the target, but on average we reach just 18g. Fibre is important for digestive health and heart health, as well as reducing the chances of type-2 diabetes. But it has also been linked to improved weight loss.
Foods high in fibre have been shown to help us feel fuller faster and to stay feeling fuller for longer. There are a few reasons why fibre may help control appetite – some research suggests it contains an anti-appetite molecule which sends a signal to our brain to tell us to stop eating. It's also believed that because it takes a while to move through the digestive tract, it helps create bulk and therefore leads us to feel fuller for longer. But what we do know for sure is that fibre helps fill us up and is therefore a useful nutrient to get more of when trying to lose weight!
Tips for getting more fibre in
- ALWAYS choose wholegrain – so wholemeal bread, brown rice, wholewheat pasta...
- Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, with their skin on
- Include more pulses in your diet (pulses include all beans, peas and lentils)
High fibre recipes
It's tricky to quantify how much fibre a dinner should contain as it depends what else you've eaten that day, but aiming for at least 8g of fibre at dinner time along with 2 other high fibre snacks and meals should bring you close to your 30g per day target.
Serves 4 - 431 kcals per serving (Approx. 9g fibre)
- 3 aubergines, sliced lengthways
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 250g extra lean turkey mince (5% max fat)
- 250g extra lean beef mince (5% max fat)
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 500g carton of passata
- 300ml skimmed milk
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- 200g reduced fat soft cheese
- 60g reduced fat cheddar
- Salt and black pepper
- Few sprigs of fresh herbs to garnish
- Preheat the grill to high. Cut the aubergines into slices lengthways, about 1cm thick. Place on a baking tray, lightly spray with Frylight and season with salt and pepper. Grill for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden and then set aside.
- Lightly spray a large frying pan with Frylight and place over a medium to high heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery and carrot, and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the beef and turkey mince to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the tomato purée, chopped tomatoes and passata, and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10-12 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas mark 6. Mix 2 tbsp of the milk with the cornflour in a small bowl to make a paste. In a pan add the remaining milk and nutmeg and bring to a simmer. Stir in the soft cheese and paste and cook for 3-4 minutes until the mixture has thickened. Melt in two-thirds of the cheese.
- Spoon half the tomato sauce mix into a baking dish about A4 size and top with half of the aubergine slices. Spoon over half the white sauce mix, then repeat. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and season with pepper.
- Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden. Remove from the oven, garnish with basil and serve immediately.
Tip! Double the quantities of this recipe and bulk cook – freeze the extra servings, and take a portion for lunch this week.
Quinoa crusted chicken strips
Serves 2 - 596 kcals per serving (Approx. 10g fibre)
- 400g sweet potato, washed well and cut into wedges (leave skin on)
- Salt and black pepper
- 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
- 30g quinoa (dry weight), cooked according to pack instructions
- 300g skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
- 2 medium free-range eggs, beaten
- ¼ white cabbage, sliced and shredded
- 140g carrots, grated
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
For the dressing:
- 2 tbsp light mayonnaise
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp cider vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas mark 6. Bring a pan of water to the boil and par boil the sweet potato wedges for 5 minutes.
- Drain the wedges and place on a baking tray. Spray with Frylight, season with salt and pepper and place in the oven to bake for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix together the grated parmesan and cooked quinoa in a bowl and season lightly with salt and pepper. Spread the mixture on a plate.
- Dip the chicken strips into the beaten egg and then roll them in the quinoa mixture until evenly coated.
- Cover a baking tray with foil, lightly spray the tray with Frylight, place the chicken strips on the tray and spray the chicken.
- Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, turning the strips halfway through, until crisp and golden brown.
- Meanwhile, make the slaw: mix the cabbage, carrots, onion and parsley together in a bowl.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, mustard and cider vinegar to make the dressing. Gently stir into the coleslaw and season to taste.
Tofu stir fry
Serves 2 - 561 kcals per serving (Approx. 9g fibre)
- 100g wholewheat noodles
- 3 tsp sesame oil
- 200g tofu, cut into cubes
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
- 4 baby pak choi, halved
- 100g asparagus tips
- 120g sachet sweet chilli and garlic stir fry sauce
- 10g sesame seeds
- 15g peanuts, crushed
- 2 wedges of lime
- Few sprigs of fresh coriander
- Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the noodles according to the pack instructions.
- Meanwhile, place a frying pan over a medium heat and heat 1 tsp of the sesame oil. Cook the tofu for 5-6 minutes, turning regularly, until golden all over.
- At the same time, place a wok over a medium heat and heat the other 2 tsp of oil. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the pak choi and asparagus to the pan, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the cooked noodles and tofu to the vegetables, along with the sauce and the sesame seeds. Turn up the heat and stir fry for 2-3 minutes until hot.
- Serve in warm bowls, sprinkled with the crushed peanuts and a squeeze of lime juice, and garnished with the coriander.
Mixed bean chilli
(£1.20 per serving)
Serves 2 - 536 kcals per serving (Approx. 20g fibre)
- 2x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 400g tin kidney beans, drained
- 400g tin borlotti beans, drained
- 1 large onion, finely sliced
- 300ml water
- 4 tsp of chilli powder
- 4 tsp of ground cumin
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- 30g finely grated reduced fat cheddar
- Few sprigs fresh coriander, finely chopped
- 2 medium slices of wholemeal bread, toasted
- Place a large pan over a low-medium heat.
- Add all the ingredients apart from the coriander, cheese and bread to the pan and stir well.
- Cover and simmer for 5-6 minutes, until the onion has started to soften, and the flavours are well combined.
- Serve in warm bowls garnished with the grated cheddar and coriander, with the toasted bread.
Salmon with spiced lentils
Serves 2 - 544 kcals per serving (Approx. 10g fibre)
- 2 shallots, peeled and finely diced
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 250g cooked lentils
- 140g carrot, peeled and cut into small batons
- 100ml vegetable stock
- 2x 120g skinless salmon fillets
- 2 tsp olive oil
- Place a frying pan over a low-medium heat and heat the Frylight. Add the shallots and spices and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, steam the carrot batons for 5 minutes.
- While the carrots are steaming, place a griddle pan over a medium heat and spray with Frylight. Cook the salmon fillets for 8-10 minutes, turning each side every 2 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the lentils, carrot batons and stock to the shallots, season with black pepper, cover and leave to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Serve the salmon on a bed of lentils and carrots, and drizzle with a tsp of olive oil.
Spicy turkey & avocado burger
Serves 4 - 478 kcals per serving (Approx. 11g fibre)
- 2x 40g slices wholemeal bread
- 500g minced turkey
- 4 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 2 red chillies, finely chopped
- Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
- Salt and black pepper
- 4 crusty wholemeal rolls
- 8 Little Gem lettuce leaves
- 4 slices of tomato
- 1 medium avocado, skin and stone removed, flesh mashed
- Blitz the bread briefly in a blender or food processor to make fine breadcrumbs.
- Using your hands, mix together the turkey, breadcrumbs, 3 of the spring onions, the chilli and half the coriander in a bowl. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Again, using your hands, divide the mixture into 4 portions and shape each one into a burger approximately an inch thick. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
- Lightly spray a large frying pan with Frylight and place over a medium to high heat. Cook the burgers for 8-10 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked right through.
- Cut the rolls in half and add two lettuce leaves and a slice of tomato to each base. Place a burger on top and add 1 tablespoon of mashed avocado, a sprinkling of spring onion and a few sprigs of fresh coriander to each. Sandwich together with the top of the roll and enjoy.
Slow cooked chicken tagine
Serves 4 - 545 kcals per serving (Approx. 11g fibre)
- 500g skinless and boneless chicken thighs, cut into large chunks
- 1 heaped tbsp harissa paste
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 400ml chicken stock
- 80g dried apricots, chopped
- 1 tsp each chilli powder, ground cinnamon, ground cumin, ground ginger, ground turmeric
- 400g tin chickpeas, drained
- 20g flaked almonds
- Handful fresh coriander, chopped
- 160g dried giant wholewheat cous cous
- Mix the chicken thigh pieces and harissa paste in a bowl, cover and chill in the fridge for 2 hours.
- Place a frying pan over a medium heat and spray with Frylight. Cook the chicken pieces for 2 minutes, stirring regularly to brown all over.
- Place the chicken in the slow cooker along with chopped tomatoes, stock, apricot and spices. Cook on high setting for 5 hours, or on low setting for 8 hours.
- Half way through stir the chickpeas into the tagine mixture.
- Garnish with flaked almonds and fresh coriander.
- Serve with giant cous cous cooked according to the pack instructions.
Nutritionist Emma Brown (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.