Even though fiber is essential to healthy digestion, it's easy to have a diet that lacks the critical nutrient. Incorporating high fiber foods into your family's favorite starters is a simple way to increase their fiber intake for better nutrition. Fiber has a reputation for being a code word for bland, but clever preparations and a little imagination will turn your fiber appetizers into the hit of the whole meal with even your pickiest eaters.
Whole Grain Swaps
Finger sandwiches and cracker platters are easy appetizers that whip together in minutes, but white flour products rob your family of the complex carbs that offer high fiber. Making the switch to whole grain breads and crackers is a simple and barely noticeable way to sneak in a few extra grams of fiber into the meal. Look for whole wheat and whole grain versions of sliced bread to make finger sandwiches. If you prefer tortilla style wraps, check out alternative flours like ground flaxseed which deliver higher fiber totals. Whole wheat crackers come in a range of flavors to complement your cheese and fruit platter, so look for funky versions like black peppercorn or cheddar.
Beans and Seeds
Beans and seeds not only deliver high doses of fiber, they are also incredibly versatile and the main ingredients for a range of easy-to-prepare appetizers. Both white beans and black beans are stars of creamy dips and spreads for whole wheat chips or crackers -- just blend them until smooth in a food processor and add seasoning like lemon, capers, jalapenos, onion and garlic salt. Throw any cans of beans you have taking up space in your cabinet into a bowl with a fat-free salad dressing and some cubes of cheese for an instant and delicious bean salad starter. If you're making a party mix with cereals, throw in a few handfuls of walnuts, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds to increase fiber and flavor.
Dressing Up Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are naturally high-fiber, but delivering a platter of plain chopped vegetable to your family is unlikely to elicit any excitement. Expand your family's flavor palate with creative takes on fruits and vegetables. Mix up an exciting fruit salsa with your favorite berries or tropical fruits. A dash of citrus and a pinch or sugar and cinnamon are all you need to season it, and sweet graham cracker sticks are suitable for dipping and scooping. Leafy greens like kale and spinach are high in nutrition, but their flavor can be a turn off for young taste buds. Put a kid-friendly spin on the fiber superstars by turning them into crispy, salty chips in your oven. Double the fiber punch with a fresh guacamole for dipping, seasoned with dry spicy ranch dressing mix for a kick.
Classic appetizers get a fiber kick with clever tricks that will fool your family into thinking they're getting something much more indulgent. High-fiber cereals like bran may seem plain on their own, but when you grind them in a food processor with a packet of dressing and seasoning mix, they become a low-fat, high-fiber breading option for a range of faux fried appetizers. Egg batter holds the breading onto onion slices, raw chicken, mozzarella cheese sticks or vegetable slices, and a quick trip in the oven creates the crunchy "fried" texture your family knows and loves. Sneak fiber into your classic recipes like crab cakes or cheesy dips with a tablespoon or two of ground flaxseed -- it's a high dose of fiber with barely-there flavor that slips in unnoticed.
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- MayoClinic.com: High-fiber Foods
- "Techniques of Healthy Cooking"; Mary Deirdre Donovan; 2007
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