GINNA PARSONS: Fiber helps you feel fuller longer

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

It seems that everywhere I turn these days, I run into an article on fiber and how important it is in our diets.
Sure, I get the part about fiber playing an important role in the digestive process. And study after study has shown fiber can help reduce cholesterol levels and cancer rates.
But here’s the part about fiber that has gotten my attention of late: Fiber can make you feel full longer.
I’m one of those people who likes to feel full when I leave the lunch room or dinner table. That’s not a problem when I’ve just dined on Mexican food or fried chicken or meatloaf.
But sometimes, I’ll stuff myself with a salad made of fresh vegetables, a little protein and a drizzle of olive-oil based salad dressing.
An hour later, I’m starved.
Yes, I’ve eaten fiber in the form of fresh greens, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and bell peppers, but those aren’t the long-lasting kinds of fiber.
I’m talking about legumes, which come dried, canned and frozen, and can be cooked in a thousand ways. Some of the most common legumes are black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), navy beans, pinto beans, black-eyed peas and lentils.
Most of us know how to put on a pot of peas or beans for supper. Here’s a recipe from Everyday Food magazine that uses lentils, little lens-shaped beans that sort of take on the flavor of whatever they’re cooked with.
An added bonus of this recipe: Onions have been shown to lower blood-sugar levels. And speaking of onions, I’ll probably substitute a Vidalia onion for the yellow onion, because that’s what I have on hand.

Caramelized Onion
and Lentil Soup
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cans lentils, rinsed and drained, or 1 cup dried lentils cooked according to package directions
2
14 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
Course salt and ground pepper
12 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, chives, marjoram, or a combination

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and edges are browned, about 15 minutes. Add lentils and broth and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce to a medium simmer and cook, gradually smashing some lentils against the side of the pan with a spoon to thicken soup, 10 minutes. Serve topped with a dollop of yogurt and some fresh herbs.
Makes 4 servings at 229 calories, 4g fat, 16g protein, 33g carbs and 15g fiber each.

Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/ garden editor.