Although there is no Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for fiber, 25 to 30 grams per day is considered a desirable intake. This can be accomplished by including two to three servings of cooked whole grains and four to five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables in the daily diet.
Wheat germ, buckwheat and barley are a few of the more familiar grains that can be baked into breads or used to complement ingredients in both sweet and savory dishes. They are easy to use and are an economical way to sneak additional fiber into the diet.
Wheat germ, the embryo portion of a grain, is usually separated during the milling process because of its high oil content, which contributes to rancidity in the final product. Like oat and wheat brans, it can be used to coat pans for cakes and quick breads or to oven bake fish and poultry. Sprinkle wheat germ on top of unbaked cookies. Or, roll hot baked cookie balls in a mixture of powdered sugar and wheat germ. It will add a nutty crunch to streusel toppings.
Barley Is Versatile
Barley, another hardy cereal grain, is useful as a thickener in soups, in a main dish or casserole recipes or as a substitute for rice and potatoes. It can also be baked into desserts. Barley is rich in protein, thiamine, niacin, phosphorus and iron.
The entire buckwheat kernel is known to most as kasha, but it is also available cracked into coarse pieces (buckwheat grits), or milled into a heavy powder (buckwheat flour). It can be cooked like rice, though the traditional recipe for cooked kasha recommends stirring an egg into the grains before hot liquid is added. This is done to separate each grain and bring out its nutty flavor.
Wheat germ makes a tasty foundation for poultry or vegetable stuffing, yet it can be stirred into prepared pudding or yogurt for crunch.
CHERRY-OAT BRAN MUFFINS
3/4 cup oat bran
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup non-fat milk
1/4 cup honey
1 egg or 2 egg whites
1/4 cup melted margarine or oil
1 cup maraschino cherries, drained and chopped
Combine bran, flour, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Whisk milk, honey and egg together, then stir in margarine and cherries. Pour over dry ingredients and mix just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Spoon batter into 12 paper-lined muffin cups and bake at 375 degrees 15 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve warm. Makes 12 servings.
Note: May be baked in 36 miniature muffin cups for 10 to 15 minutes.
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery with leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon oil
3 pounds beef shank cross cuts, cut 1-inch thick
5 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup medium barley
1 (9-ounce) package frozen French cut green beans
Saute onion, carrots, celery and garlic in oil in Dutch oven over medium heat 5 minutes or until tender. Add beef, water, salt, thyme, bay leaf and pepper. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, 1 hour.
Remove shanks and cut meat from bone into 3/4-inch pieces. Skim fat from broth. Return beef to soup and add barley. Cook 50 to 60 minutes or until barley is tender. Add green beans and return to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 2 to 3 minutes or until meat and vegetables are tender. Remove bay leaf. Makes 6 servings.
BANANA-OAT BRAN MUFFINS
1 cup oat bran
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups mashed ripe bananas
1/2 cup low-fat milk
3 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
1/4 cup oil
Combine oat bran, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in large bowl. Make well in center.
In separate bowl, combine bananas, eggs, milk, sugar and oil. Beat with fork until blended. Add to well in dry ingredients, all at once. Mix with fork until just moistened. Spoon into 12 paper-lined muffin cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake at 375 degrees 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden. Remove from pans and cool on rack. Makes 12 muffins.
1 cup Cooked Kasha
1/3 cup chopped green onions
15 fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Prepared low-calorie Italian dressing
Romaine lettuce leaves
Combine cooked Kasha, green onions, mint leaves, parsley, tomato, salt to taste, lemon juice, vinegar and enough dressing to moisten. Chill at least 2 hours. Arrange lettuce leaves on individual serving plates. Scoop tabbouleh in center. Makes 2 to 3 servings.
1 cup kasha (toasted buckwheat groats)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt, optional
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups boiling chicken broth
Combine kasha, egg, salt and pepper in 2-quart saucepan or skillet. Stir constantly over medium heat about 2 minutes or until egg is set and each grain is separate and dry. Add boiling broth and cook, covered, over low heat 15 minutes or until kasha grains are tender. Makes about 3 cups.