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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Big Balls of Fiber (OK, small ones)

Becoming a parent is probably the most humbling experience in someone's life. Nursing a baby, convincing a toddler, comforting a child, guiding a teenager, giving advice at any age...All those responsibilities, with no previous schooling in any of the topics.

And one of the toughest challenges that parenthood forces people to face involves meddling with one's kids' poop. From diapering, to potty training, accidents, urgency to go in the middle of nowhere, overflows, explosions, or actually not going at all. They all happen in the least anticipated places and times, they stain (you, the child or both), embarrass (you, the child or both), stink, and affect mood and general health (physical and mental, again, yours, the child's or both). They often function as psychosomatic methods of control when the child is facing new situations (a new sibling, new school, etc), or it's just a physiological challenge some kids suffer from.

I know, I know....a food blog might be one of the worst places to discuss vowel movements, but at the end, what comes into the body, does have crucial consequences on what comes (or doesn't come) out of it.

Recently, a friend asked me to come up with something to help alleviate her child's constipation, which is such a huge issue, that her physical discomfort reflects in terrible moods and poor behavior, that are completely atypical to this kid's personality. My first answer was: "chia," but my favorite seeds we're not liked by the 7-year-old. A fiber rich "treat" was needed...so I got to work.

First of all, I'll try to explain what dietary fiber is. Its official definition goes like this: "fiber refers to all parts of plant foods that the human body can't digest or absorb." It is commonly classified into:
· Insoluble fiber. Doesn't dissolve in water. Promotes the movement of material through the digestive system and increases stool bulk, so it can help against constipation and/or bowel irregularity. Present in cinnamon, wheat bran, root vegetables, fruits with edible seeds (like strawberries and kiwis)
· Soluble fiber. This type of fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It can help lower blood cholesterol and regulate glucose levels. Oatmeal, barley, and legumes, apples and citrus are rich in this.
However, lately, in different scientific communities, it's been argued that the definition should be more specific, as there are some kinds of dietary fiber that are viscous and others fermentable. But now, and before a more accurate definition is generally accepted, let's just mention that most whole (unprocessed) plant foods contain both kinds of fiber in different percentages, and that we need both.

Excellent food sources of fiber are:
· Turnip, collard and mustard greens (yeah... I know, try giving those to a child. But don't forget the power of a green chip), beans (navy, kidney, pinto, black, adzuki, garbanzo, etc), eggplant, raspberries and cinnamon (it's a bark, so what could be more fibrous?).
Very good sources of dietary fiber:
· Romaine lettuce, celery, Swiss chard, spinach, fennel, asparagus, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, green beans, cauliflower, carrots, tomatoes, green peas, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, shiitake mushrooms, kale, dried peas, lentils, strawberries, pears (unpeeled), cranberries, oranges, whole wheat, barley (preferably not "pearled"), flax and chia seeds, coriander seeds, cloves, and oregano.
Good sources of dietary fiber:
· Apricots, grapefruit, bananas, figs, pineapple, cantaloupe, avocados, plums, papaya, kiwi, blueberries, apples, dried fruit, sweet potato, summer squash, onions, yam, leeks, olives, crimini mushrooms, potatoes, corn, rye, quinoa, whole buckwheat, oats, and spelt, soybeans, miso, sesame seeds, rosemary, black pepper, cayenne pepper, dill, and turmeric.
You may have noticed that whole grain flours are not listed. They are indeed way higher in fiber than refined white flours, but their fiber content is still less than in all the foods mentioned above.

Bottom-line? Dietary fiber is indispensable for sustaining our health. Besides promoting bowel regularity, preventing constipation, decreasing transit time of fecal matter through the intestines, (which reduce the risk of colon cancer and hemorrhoids), regulating blood sugar levels and reducing blood cholesterol, fermentable fibers help maintain healthy populations of friendly bacteria. In addition to producing necessary short-chain fatty acids to feed the cells in the colon, these bacteria play an important role in the immune system by preventing disease-causing bacteria from surviving in the intestinal tract. So preferably, eat your fiber from whole legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains, another reason to eat a rainbow a day!
And...For dessert, make the following recipe that uses many of those ingredients.

NOTE: Remember to always drink PLENTY of water, as insoluble fiber needs H2O to help the bulk transit through the intestinal tract, and soluble fiber uses it to make its gel-like substances that help regulate cholesterol and glucose blood levels.

                                                    For additional info. visit:


SMALL BALLS OF FIBER

Inspired by GourMaya's AMAZE-BALLS and by Sprouted Kitchen's almond date truffles, I made these chocolate chip cookie dough-looking balls full of fiber-rich ingredients. They are super healthy, easy to make (if you have date paste stored in your freezer as I mentioned I usually do in here), plus no baking is required. Ah! And they were approved by the child they were designed for, plus by my own daughter, who's eating them like candy.

INGREDIENTS
· Vegan, free of dairy, gluten, soy, eggs, flour and refined sweeteners
· Contains nuts (peanut butter can be substituted with  other nut butters, Sunbutter or soy nut butter, if needed)
· Super ingredients: adzuki beans, dates, mesquite flour, all-natural (unsweetened) peanut butter, chia, cinnamon
2 teaspoons chia seeds
1 (15-oz) can aduki (or adzuki) beans, rinsed and drained (EDEN brand preferably)
2 tablespoons all natural peanut butter (unsweetened and unsalted, ingredient list should say only peanuts)
2 tablespoons date paste*
1 1/2 teaspoons mesquite flour (available here and here)
1 teaspoon raw (non-alkalized) cocoa powder (Rapunzel, Shiloh Farms, Scharffen-Berger or other brands)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch fine sea salt
1 tablespoon semisweet mini chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand is allergen free)
1/2 cup puffed amaranth, optional

METHOD

Grind chia seeds in a clean spice or coffee grinder. Transfer chia "meal" into a medium mixing bowl.

Puree aduki beans in a food processor, or with an immersion blender. Measure 2 tablespoons of the puree and place them in the bowl with the ground chia. Transfer the rest of the beans to a freezer-safe container and freeze until needed.

Add peanut butter, date paste, cocoa, mesquite, vanilla, cinnamon and salt and mix well with a spatula, until homogeneous dough is formed.

Add chocolate chips and mix until incorporated.


Make balls of dough (about 1-inch diameter). Roll balls on puffed amaranth if desired. Freeze or refrigerate.

Serve and enjoy!

*TO MAKE DATE PASTE: IN A LARGE SAUCE PAN, BRING WATER TO A BOIL. TURN OFF THE FLAME AND ADD IN PITTED DATES (THE WATER SHOULD COVER DATES COMPLETELY, LEAVING ABOUT 2-INCHES OF WATER ON TOP). COVER AND LET DATES HYDRATE FOR 10 MINUTES. STRAIN DATES (reserving ¼ cup liquid) AND PUREE THEM IN A FOOD PROCESSOR OR AN IMERSSION BLENDER UNTIL SMOOTH. ADD A TABLESPOON OF RESERVED LIQUID AT A TIME IN CASE IT’S NEEDED TO AID THE PUREEING PROCESS. FREEZE AND USE AS NEEDED.

1 comment:

Beyond Prenatals said...

of course i have to try this. and date paste is available in every store in israel and organic date paste is available too. so you know ill be trying this. the amaranth puffs on top are genius!