Oh, the expansive world of fiber! Dietary fiber can be found in things like vegetables, legumes, fruits, and whole grain bread and cereal. We’ve all most likely heard at one point or another just how important fiber is to our bodies and our digestion. However, fiber does a lot more than just keep your digestive system running smoothly.
It can help to maintain stable blood sugar, lower cholesterol and lose weight. But to reap the full benefits of dietary fiber, your body needs two types of fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Most sources of dietary fiber are a combination of these two types of fiber.
But what is soluble fiber? Unlike insoluble fiber, soluble fiber binds with water in your system and turns into a gel-like consistency. It helps to keep you full without adding unnecessary calories and works to soak up water as it passes through your system to help keep you regular. Because it empties from your stomach at a slower rate than other foods, it helps keep your hunger away while also providing a steady flow of post-meal energy.
Soluble fiber can be found in foods like oats, peas, beans, lentils, apples, oranges, carrots and barley. Insoluble fiber is found in the seeds and skins of fruit as well as whole-wheat bread. It, too, plays a role in keeping hunger at bay while also keeping your digestive health regular.
Although there’s often a misconception between dietary fiber vs. soluble fiber, soluble fiber is just a subcategory of the overall umbrella of dietary fiber. To better understand how to integrate this type of fiber into your balanced diet, let’s take a deeper dive into the world of fiber by way of some tasty Bob’s Red Mill products and recipes.
Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
Perhaps one of the most well-known sources of soluble fiber is oatmeal. Oats help to make you feel fuller longer and also help to control blood sugar. Our Gluten Free Old Fashioned Rolled Oats can make for a hearty hot cereal or an amazing batch of oatmeal cookies (or even as a “secret ingredient” for meatloaf).
This recipe for PB&J Protein Balls is gluten free, vegan and packed with both protein and fiber. With ingredients like natural creamy raw peanut butter, vanilla extract, Shredded Coconut, Chia Seeds and diced strawberries, these easy-to-eat bites may feel more reminiscent of a dessert rather than a ball packed with nutritional power. We like our wholesome ingredients, but we like our dessert just as much!
Speaking of dessert, you can also choose to ditch the traditional carrot cake and opt for this equally-tasty Carrot Cake Smoothie to satisfy your sweet tooth and give you a burst of morning energy. In addition to Gluten Free Rolled Oats, the recipe calls for fun ingredients like raw cashews, fresh carrot juice, frozen banana and raisins. We suggest sipping it outside in the sunshine.
When oats come to mind, so do Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. Luckily, if you’re looking to up your fiber intake, adding oats to your batch of classic chocolate chips is one of the easiest (and tastiest) ways to do so. The only thing missing is a cold glass of your favorite nut milk.
Another fantastic source of soluble fiber, our Pearl Barley can be used in everything from soups and salads to stir-fries and stuffings. With its mild nutty flavor and chewy texture, it also makes the perfect addition to risotto. With its versatility in the kitchen, know that however you choose to use the delicious source of fiber that is barley, you’re using it the right way!
This Lemony Chicken Barley Soup makes for a simple and hearty chicken soup with pearl barley and lots of lemon. We love the addition of carrots and fresh parsley for an added layer of fiber. It’s delicious year-round!
Shelled Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are home to high levels of protein, antioxidants, minerals and linoleic acid. They’re also a wonderful source of vitamin E, dietary fiber, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B1, vitamin B6 and folate. At Bob’s Red Mill, we love using sunflower seeds as an addition to cakes, cookies, bread and muffins. You can also mix them into your favorite salads recipes or sprinkle them atop your morning yogurt for a boost of fiber.
These paleo-friendly Super Seed Crisps work beautifully when paired with dips or an assortment of your favorite veggies. In addition to sunflower seeds, the crisps also contain other fiber-filled seeds like pumpkin, sesame and poppy.
If it’s sunflower seeds in their pure form you’re longing for, consider this simple recipe for Sunflower Seed Butter. Made with just sunflower seeds, salt and an optional sweetener, this smooth, rich butter is fantastic on top of toast or served in the same way as your favorite peanut and almond butters. We like to think it tastes pretty good by the spoonful, too.
Lentils are another form of soluble fiber, and Bob’s Red Mill is home to a few different types (from red to brown to green). These green lentils, in particular, have a pleasant and peppery flavor and an enticing dark green hue. You don’t need to presoak them; instead, they’ll cook on the stovetop in just 25 minutes.
Try them in fiber-rich dishes like this Vegetable Lentil Salad, made with carrots, red bell pepper, green onions, cauliflower, olive oil, oregano and vinegar. Pair this dish with a slice of toasted whole grain bread and a bit of butter for a cozy and comforting dinner.
Found on the back of our bags of green lentils, this Warm French Lentil Salad has Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, bay leaf, and carrots as an extra fiber bonus.
Pinto beans, like other beans, are a wonderful source of soluble fiber and protein. They’re rich and hearty in flavor and smooth in texture, perfect to use in chilis, stews and Mexican dishes.
This Easy Enchilada Casserole comes out hot and bubbly from the oven and is ideal for a cool evening during any season. Pair a slice with a chilled beverage of your choice and enjoy the spicy tomato sauce in combination with the pinto beans.
Garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas) are traditionally used to make hummus. Because of their nutty and rich flavor and their ability to maintain their shape even after cooking, they make a great fibrous addition to tossed salads as well as stews.
Try this Vegan Quinoa Chili for a unique combination of digestion-friendly garbanzo beans, kidney beans and black beans. Jalapeño adds a nice touch of spice in combination with the flavors of sweet potatoes and bell peppers.
If you’re in the mood for garbanzo beans on their own, try roasting them in the oven with just some olive oil, sea salt, garlic and paprika. When they come out, you’ll have a savory, crunchy (and fibrous) treat fit for any nutritious snacking occasion. These are also delightful when thrown into a kale salad with a creamy cilantro dressing.
If you’re looking for a simple way to up your fiber intake in the morning and provide lasting energy throughout the day, try Bob’s Red Mill Oatmeal Cups. Our Organic Pineapple Oatmeal Coconut Cup will take your taste buds on a trip to the tropics with its blend of whole grain rolled and stone-ground oats, real dried pineapple, toasted coconut flakes, and flax and chia seeds.
Also swoon-worthy—the Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Cup is a beautiful blend of whole grain rolled and stone-ground oats, nutritious seeds, nuts and fruits. It’s been said that this cup in particular works wonders to brighten up the day ahead!
If it’s an oatmeal cup with more simplicity you’re in the mood for, make sure to try our single-serving Organic Fruit and Seed Oatmeal Cup. It’s a sensational cup filled with whole grain rolled and stone-ground oats and nutritious seeds.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, soluble fiber binds with water and helps you to feel full throughout the day. It eliminates the need for unnecessary calories and works to soak up water as it passes through your system. Although the occasional snack attack is fun, soluble fiber helps to stave hunger and keep you excited for wholesome meals ahead.
Whether you’re enjoying soluble fiber by way of oatmeal cups, lentils, or seeds, we hope these recipes have inspired you to do some experimentation in the kitchen to see just which type of fiber-rich ingredients work best for you.
From all of us at Bob’s Red Mill, happy eating! Feel free to let us know if there’s any oatmeal, lentil or fiber-rich dishes you love in the comments below. We’re always on the hunt for more tasty tidbits and meals to share with our readers!