A whopping 97% of Americans aren’t getting the minimum recommended daily amount of fiber! Fiber doesn’t exist in meat, eggs, or dairy, and is almost non-existent in processed, packaged junk foods. In order to get it, you have to eat plants – vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Fiber has numerous health benefits including protection against heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. When we consume fibrous foods, we consume plant foods high in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. A diet high in fiber and low in animal protein helps maintain regular digestion and elimination, and helps reduce your risk of inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer. I encourage people to aim for at least 30-40 grams of fiber per day. Dr. Michael McGregor, plant-based physician and creator of NutritionFacts.org, posts a wealth of information on his website, and clearly interprets the results of clinical research that most of us would otherwise not read. I absolutely love his short video on fiber and protein, where he briefly discusses how the world’s concern over the protein intake of vegetarians and vegans is plain silly. Rather, the nutrient in which we are deficient is fiber.
My diet is pretty loaded with veggies and whole grains, but legumes are one of my favorite ways to get fiber. Below is one of my recipes for an easy to make, oil-free minestrone soup!
Plant-Based Minestrone Soup
Time: 35 minutes
1 large onion, diced
1-28oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1-15oz can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1-15oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1-15oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
3 large handfuls of fresh baby kale
4 cups vegetable stock
2-3 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder or 2 cloves fresh garlic
1 cup orzo pasta, or your favorite tiny pasta. Farro works nicely too and adds even more fiber
In a large pot or cast iron dutch oven, saute diced onion in about 1 inch of vegetable stock. cover until onion is translucent. Add tomatoes and baby kale, cover for 2 minutes until kale beings to wilt. Using a ladle, scoop kale and about 1/2 of the tomato chunks into a blender, and blend until smooth. Add the mixture back into the pot. Now add the kidney beans, cannellini beans, garbanzo beans, and about 4 cups of veggie stock. Stir, then add salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. Add 2 cups of water and 1 cup of small pasta or farro. Stir, cover, and simmer on low for another 10 minutes, stirring intermittently so pasta doesn’t stick.
Serve with toasted sprouted whole grain wheat bread and vegan butter. Enjoy!!