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Pesto Zucchini Quinoa Salad (Vegan, Gluten Free)

Put this delicious pesto zucchini quinoa salad recipe on your meal-prep menu for the week! It’s vegan, gluten free, and so easy to make.

Pesto Zucchini Quinoa Salad - Daisybeet

Pesto is one of those foods that I could eat every day. It’s such a versatile sauce. I love it on pizza, pasta, toast, and even with eggs! This homemade vegan pesto pairs perfectly with the zucchini, sun dried tomatoes, and quinoa in this recipe.

How to make vegan pesto

This pesto is totally plant-based, but still packs that classic cheesy flavor thanks to nutritional yeast! Nutritional yeast is a food product sold in flakes or powder. It is a great source of plant-based protein, vitamins, and minerals, including vitamin B12. It has a cheesy, umami flavor that is great to flavor vegan recipes.

  • Add lemon juice, garlic, basil, arugula, salt, pine nuts, olive oil, cold water, and nutritional yeast to a food processor or high speed blender.
  • Blend until well combined, but still a little chunky for texture.
  • Stop to scrape down the sides during blending. The whole process will take just a few minutes!
Vegan Pesto in Food Processor - Daisybeet

What’s in this pesto zucchini quinoa salad?

This quinoa salad is so easy to make! All you need are 10 ingredients (not including salt, pepper, and water) and about 30 minutes to get this on the table.

  • Quinoa
  • Zucchini
  • Summer squash
  • Sun dried tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Arugula
  • Garlic
  • Lemon
  • Pine nuts
  • Olive oil
Pesto zucchini quinoa salad - Daisybeet

I enjoyed this quinoa salad over greens for lunch and topped with a piece of fish for dinner. It is a versatile recipe that tastes amazing both warm and cold. Grain salads are one of my favorite recipes to meal prep, and this one is definitely a winner!

If you love this recipe, you may also like

Pesto zucchini quinoa salad - Daisybeet

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Pesto Zucchini Quinoa Salad (Vegan, Gluten Free)

  • Author: Alex
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4 as a side 1x
  • Category: side dish

Description

Put this delicious pesto zucchini quinoa salad recipe on your meal-prep menu for the week! It’s vegan, gluten free, and so easy to make.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (about 1/2 cup uncooked)
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into half-moon slices
  • 1 large summer squash, cut into half-moon slices
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, sliced

Vegan Pesto

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 1 large handful fresh basil
  • 1 large handful baby arugula
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp cold water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 410 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place zucchini and summer squash slices on baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, until fork tender and starting to brown.
  3. Cook quinoa according to package instructions while zucchini and squash roast.
  4. Combine all pesto ingredients in a food processor or high speed blender. Blend for a few minutes until smooth but a little chunky. Pause to scrape down the edges with a spatula if necessary.
  5. Combine quinoa, zucchini/squash, sun dried tomatoes, and about 1/2 cup of the pesto in a large mixing bowl. Toss to combine until everything is well coated. 
  6. Serve warm or place in a container and refrigerate for later.


Notes

  • You can just add 2 cups of basil, instead of 1 cup basil/1 cup arugula in the pesto for similar results.
  • Stores well in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.
  • You will probably have leftover pesto – it freezes well, if you don’t plan to use it within a few days!

Keywords: quinoa salad, pesto, vegan, vegan pesto, zucchini

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Featured

10 Grain Salads to Meal Prep for a Week of Healthy Meals

Grain salads are so easy and healthy to meal prep for the week! Here are 10 of my favorite recipes that the whole family will love.

Greek quinoa grain salads

One thing that I work on with most of my clients is meal prepping. Whether your nutrition goal is weight loss, eating healthier, or following a specific diet plan, meal prepping works for everyone!

Benefits of Meal Prepping

Meal prepping is the process of planning and preparing your meals ahead of time. It involves choosing recipes to make, shopping for the ingredients, and cooking the meals, usually over the weekend. While meal prepping takes good organization and a little bit of time, there are many benefits.

  • You save time. Meal prepping requires a few hours to shop and actually make the food, but it will save you hours of time during the upcoming week.
  • You save money. Bringing homemade lunches to work is much less expensive than that $15 dollar salad bowl you’re going out for every day. Taking the time to make a grocery list and shop once also eliminates the need to go to the store multiple times per week to buy more food.
  • It’s healthy. Meal prepped food is generally healthier than restaurant meals. Of course, it depends on the recipe you choose, but home cooked meals have less added sodium, sugar, and saturated fat than take out.
  • You know exactly what you are eating. It’s empowering to know exactly what you are putting in your body, especially if you have a nutrition goal you’re striving to meet. There’s no question about how many cups of rice are in this bowl, how much oil they used, or how much salt they added. You get to dictate what you eat!
  • Reduce food waste. You go to the store to buy ingredients for three recipes. Think about it…once the food is already cooked into a delicious recipe, you’re way more likely to eat it! We’re all guilty of those nights we had every intention of cooking, but were too tired and ordered takeout. So that bag of spinach, peppers, and broccoli go bad before we get another chance to use them. Meal prepping ensures you use your food before it spoils!

Why Grain Salads are Perfect for Meal Prepping

Grain salads are amazing for meal prep because they check all the boxes of meal prep benefits. My basic formula for grain salads is as follows: 1 cup of grains, 2-3 types of vegetables, and protein of choice. I also like to add something creamy, like crumbled cheese or avocado. I then mix it in a simple dressing, and it’s good to go for the week!

  • Grain salads are easy to make, and not too time consuming.
  • Whole grains like brown rice, bulgur, or quinoa are inexpensive and can be purchased in bulk. You can also keep costs down by choosing vegetarian protein sources like beans for your protein!
  • Grain salads are a balanced meal all in one. They include vegetables and whole grains for fiber/complex carbs, protein, and healthy fats, which might come from avocado, tahini, or olive oil in your dressing. Because of this, grain salads will keep you full and satisfied through the afternoon.
  • When you make your own grain salads, you control exactly what goes into them! You can recreate your favorite takeout grain bowl, but in a healthier way.
  • Since grain salads require no assembly once they are made, you are way more likely to eat them!

10 Healthy Grain Salad Recipes

Here are some of my favorite grain salad recipes. Don’t they look so colorful, healthy, and delicious?

Greek Quinoa Salad with Lentils

Greek quinoa salad grain salads

Farro Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Feta

farro salad with roasted veg and feta grain salads

Asian Quinoa Bowls with Peanut Baked Tofu from Simply Quinoa

Asian peanut tofu quinoa bowl grain salads - simply quinoa

Green Goddess Quinoa Summer Salad from Pinch of Yum

Green goddess quinoa salad - pinch of yum

Kale Butternut Squash Farro Salad by Freshly Zested

kale butternut squash farro salad - freshly zested

Summer Grain Salad by Spices in my DNA

summer grain salad - spices in my DNA

Roasted Sweet Potato Black Bean Quinoa Salad by Crunchy Creamy Sweet

sweet potato black bean quinoa salad - crunchy creamy sweet

Slow Roasted Tomato Farro Salad by How Sweet Eats

farro roasted tomato salad - how sweet eats

Strawberry Quinoa Tabbouleh with Feta by Walder Wellness

Strawberry quinoa tabbouleh - walder wellness

Chipotle Black Bean Burrito Bowls with Seared Corn by From My Bowl

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Featured

Why This Registered Dietitian Loves the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet has been studied extensively as one of the healthiest eating patterns in the world. Read on to find out why!

Greek quinoa salad

One of the oldest diets in the world is back with lots of media attention this year, and just as good as ever. It originated well before “dieting” was even a thing, and has been studied extensively as one of the healthiest eating patterns in the world. It’s a diet where you don’t have to count calories or macros, don’t have to drink detox green juice, and you can eat CARBS! Enter the Mediterranean Diet, one of my favorite patterns of eating.

What makes the Mediterranean diet so great and well loved by health professionals? Firstly, this diet is widely touted for its researched health benefits. It has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by helping to lower cholesterol, blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke. Some research also shows an association between the Mediterranean diet and reduced risk of certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

A Lifestyle, Not a Diet

The Mediterranean diet is not so much a “diet”, rather it is a lifestyle pattern of eating. When we hear the word “diet”, we often consider it a quick fix. We’ll “go on a diet” when we want to lose weight for a beach vacation, slim down for a big event, or get back on track after a few months of indulgent eating.

Diets are typically seen as a variance from our norm, and are so restrictive that we cannot realistically keep up with them for more than a few months. They often eliminate whole food groups which contain necessary nutrients our bodies need. Many of us get trapped in the cycle of “yo-yo dieting” – trying the latest fad diet, inevitably falling off the wagon, then trying to pick up another fad diet a few months later when we still don’t see results.

This is why diets don’t work. In order to see long term results, the way you eat must be a sustainable pattern you can seamlessly incorporate into your lifestyle. The Mediterranean diet is the perfect place to start if you are trying to make a lasting dietary lifestyle change!

Why The Mediterranean Diet Works

  • It’s not restrictive. You can enjoy foods from ALL food groups (including wine)! This means you are getting important nutrients other diets are lacking, like fiber, omega-3s, vitamins and minerals.
  • It emphasizes fresh, whole foods. The Mediterranean diet encourages you to eat lots of veggies, fruits, whole grains, legumes, lean proteins and healthy fats. When combined into a balanced meal, these foods keep us full and satisfied.
  • It’s simple an inexpensive. You won’t be required to purchase expensive, fancy superfoods, powders or supplements on this diet. It encourages eating some of the most humble, inexpensive foods you can buy in the grocery store, like grains and lentils.
  • It incorporates joy and pleasure into eating. The Mediterranean diet encourages being social and present while enjoying our meals. It is good practice to turn off our screens, put on some soothing music and enjoy a meal together with friends and family. Lifestyle changes become so much easier when our support system is involved!
Greek quinoa salad - the mediterranean diet

What to Eat on The Mediterranean Diet

So, what will you eat when following a Mediterranean diet? The bulk of your meals will come from vegetables, fruits and whole grains. You’ll choose legumes, nuts, fish and seafood as your main sources of protein, followed by poultry and eggs, and choosing red meat occasionally. Season your foods with fresh herbs, spices, lemon juice, olive oil and vinegar. Consume dairy like plain yogurt and cheese in moderation daily. Water is your drink of choice, and enjoy a glass of red wine in moderation!

As you can see, there are very little foods you avoid by following this eating pattern. Compare that to Keto, the Atkin’s Diet, Whole30, etc. Easy, right? The Mediterranean diet largely takes the guesswork out of eating well. When your plate is filled with veggies, whole grains, and legumes, it’s hard to get it wrong!

Mediterranean Diet Recipes to Try

Here are some of my favorite, simple Mediterranean Diet recipes. Give one a try for dinner tonight!

Greek quinoa salad
Halloumi salad
Pasta salad with roasted vegetables and tuna - the mediterranean diet
Shrimp scampi zoodles and noodles the Mediterranean diet
the Almond Eater Mediterranean Stuffed Zucchini Boats
The Mediterranean Dish Zucchini Salad

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Featured

Greek Quinoa Salad with Lentils (Gluten Free)

This Greek quinoa salad recipe is so easy to make! It’s a perfect recipe for a warm summer day or meal prep, and is sure to please a crowd.

Greek quinoa salad

If I had to choose one cuisine to eat for the rest of my life, I’d pick Greek. It has pretty much everything I love – tons of veggies, cheese, olives, grains, nuts, legumes, seafood, yogurt, and fruit. Oh, and I can’t forget baklava!

This Greek quinoa salad with lentils is basically the most delicious hodgepodge of Greek flavors all mixed together. And since it’s mid-July, I got to use only the freshest, most flavorful produce that really makes this salad pop. Have you seen a more beautiful array of colors in a salad before?!

Greek quinoa salad ingredients

How to Make Greek Quinoa Salad with Lentils

This recipe is super simple to make. The only cooking you need to do is for the quinoa and lentils. The rest is just chopping and mixing!

  • Cook quinoa and lentils according to package instructions.
  • Chop up all the veggies and herbs: cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, red onion, cucumber, olives, basil and parsley.
  • Whisk together lemon juice, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, olive oil, oregano, and garlic powder to make your dressing.
  • Toss everything together in a large bowl with feta cheese.
  • Enjoy immediately or stick it in the fridge for later!
Greek salad with quinoa and lentils

Main Ingredients + Some Nutrition Notes

  • Lentils: Lentils are a super healthy food to include in your diet. They are part of the pulses family, which also includes beans, chickpeas, and peas. Lentils are one of the best plant-based protein sources! Half a cup contains about 12 grams of protein. Lentils also are an excellent source of fiber. You can read all about the benefits of fiber here!
  • Quinoa: Quinoa is a pseudo-grain, and is a delicious replacement for rice. It’s gluten free and another good source of plant-based protein. One cup of cooked quinoa has 8 grams of protein. Unlike many protein sources from plants, quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.
  • Olives: You’ve heard of the health benefits of olive oil, and olives are just as nutritious! Olives have the same healthy monounsaturated fats as olive oil, which is protective against heart disease and inflammation. They are also high in vitamin E and other antioxidants.
  • Bell Pepper
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Red Onion
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Feta Cheese
Greek Quinoa Salad

I love to meal-prep this Greek quinoa salad at the beginning of the week. I’ll add a heap to a bed of Greens for a quick and filling lunch. This recipe is also perfect to make for picnics, barbecues, or potlucks!

If you love this Greek quinoa salad with lentils recipe, you may also like

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Greek Quinoa Salad with Lentils (Gluten Free)

  • Author: Alex
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 68 servings 1x
  • Category: side dish

Description

This Greek quinoa salad recipe is so easy to make! It’s a perfect recipe for a warm summer day or meal prep, and is sure to please a crowd.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 cup dry green lentils
  • 1 cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced thinly
  • 1/2 of a red onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese (can eliminate for to make vegan)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil

Dressing

  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tbsp honey (sub maple syrup for vegan)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Cook quinoa and lentils on the stovetop according to package instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, chop all the veggies, olives, and herbs. Set aside.
  3. Make the dressing by whisking together all dressing ingredients except olive oil in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking, until dressing is cohesive and creamy looking.
  4. Let lentils and quinoa cool to room temperature. Then, mix them together with the veggies, olives, and herbs in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Pour dressing into the bowl and continue to mix salad until everything is well coated.
  6. Serve immediately, or save it for later! 


Notes

  • Keeps very well in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 5 days.
  • Can easily be made vegan by using maple syrup instead of honey in the dressing, and by eliminating the feta cheese. If you eliminate cheese, consider adding a little salt to taste!

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plant-based protein sources Featured

10 Plant-Based Protein Sources to Add to Your Diet

Want to eat more plant-based? Find out some of the best plant-based protein sources you should be eating regularly for good health.

kale caesar salad plant based protein sources

One of the greatest misconceptions in the nutrition world is that plant-based diets do not provide enough protein. As an RD, I’ve heard this time and time again. But, a well-planned and thoughtful vegetarian or vegan diet can provide all the nutrients we need for good health, including protein from plant-based protein sources.

Benefits of A Plant-Based Diet

Nutrition research has consistently pointed to a plant-based diet to provide numerous health benefits. Whether you’re vegan or just experimenting with Meatless Monday, we can all benefit from eating more plants! Here are a few of the amazing health benefits of a plant-based diet:

  • Decreased risk of chronic disease, including heart disease, stroke, hypertension, Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol, and some cancers (1)
  • Promotes weight management, prevention of overweight/obesity, and beneficial for weight loss (2)
  • Lower environmental impact than a diet that includes lots of animal protein

Plant-Based Protein Sources

Protein is an important macronutrient, as it is the building block for body tissue. Our protein needs vary by individual based on age, activity level, health status, etc. Including a variety of the following foods in your diet daily will meet the protein needs of most people, with the added health benefits of these ingredients!

Beans

roasted chickpeas

Beans of all kinds – black, kidney, chickpea, etc. – are one of the world’s healthiest foods. They are a starchy protein, as they also contain some carbohydrates. Because of this, beans are a great source of dietary fiber. They are also rich in vitamins and minerals, including iron!

Protein in Beans: 15 grams in 1 cup

How to Add Beans to Your Diet:

Lentils

coconut curry red lentil soup

Lentils are similar to beans, in that they are also a starchy protein source. One cup of lentils has a whopping 16 grams of dietary fiber! Lentils have a hearty texture that holds up well as a replacement for meat in dishes like stews and sauces.

Red lentils tend to break apart when cooked, so they are great in soups and stews. Green, black, and French lentils will hold their shape when cooked.

Protein in Lentils: 18 grams in 1 cup

How to Add Lentils to Your Diet:

Peas

peas plant-based protein sources

Peas are a versatile ingredient that have plenty of plant-based protein. They are similar to beans and lentils in that they also contain carbohydrates, and therefore fiber. Also, peas contain good amounts of several vitamins and minerals, notably vitamins A, C, K, and B-vitamins.

Protein in Peas: 8 grams in 1 cup

How to Add Peas to Your Diet:

Tofu, Tempeh, and Edamame

crispy baked tofu

Tofu, tempeh, and edamame are all foods coming from the soybean. Edamame is immature soy bean, and tofu and tempeh are products made from soy. In many Asian cultures, soy is a staple protein source.

For years, there has been swirling controversy around the safety of soy in our diets, but the research has consistently shown that soy is safe and very healthy for us.

Protein in Tofu, Tempeh, and Edamame: 20 grams in 1 cup

How to Add Tofu/Tempeh/Edamame to Your Diet:

Quinoa

quinoa plant based protein sources

Quinoa is technically a seed, but it tastes, cooks and acts like a grain. Unlike other grains though, quinoa is a good source of protein. Not only that, quinoa has all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. This sets quinoa apart from other plant-based protein sources!

Protein in Quinoa: 8 grams in 1 cup

How to Add Quinoa to Your Diet:

Nuts

popcorn trail mix

Almonds, walnuts, macadamia, pistachios, and more are nutrition powerhouses. They are rich in energy, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and protein. Nuts are one of my favorite on-the-go snacks to have on hand.

Protein in Nuts: 5 grams per 1/4th cup

How to Add Nuts to Your Diet:

  • Make popcorn trail mix for a healthy and filling snack (pictured above)
  • Add a dollop of nut butter to oatmeal or smoothie bowls
  • Sprinkle nuts on top of salad for a crunchy addition
  • Add nuts to homemade granola
  • Make your own mixed nut butter

Seeds

seeds

Like nuts, seeds contain an abundance of heart healthy fats. They’re also good sources of minerals, like calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and copper. Some seeds to add to your diet include sesame, pumpkin, and flax.

Protein in Seeds: 10 grams in 1/4th cup

How to Add Seeds to Your Diet:

  • Sprinkle seeds on top of salads and grain bowls, such as on this Asian Cucumber Salad
  • Try using tahini in baked goods: these Tahini Brownies and Tahini Cookies by Kale Junkie are delicious!
  • If you bake your own bread, experiment with adding seeds to the dough for a hearty texture
  • Top yogurt or oatmeal bowls with pumpkin seeds

Chia Seeds

chia seeds plant-based protein sources

Chia is a seed, but it gets its own category! Chia seeds are a good plant-based source of iron and calcium. What makes them extra special is they are a good plant-based source of essential omega-3 fatty acids. We can’t produce these on our own, so it is important we get adequate amounts in our diet. So, since omega-3 fatty acids are mainly found in animal products, chia seeds are a great way to get these good fats if you are following a plant-based diet.

Protein in Chia Seeds: 5 grams in 1 ounce

How to Add Chia Seeds to Your Diet:

  • Try chia pudding for breakfast
  • Add a spoonful to your oatmeal
  • Make easy two ingredient chia jam
  • Bake some into homemade granola

Hemp

Hemp hearts are another good source of plant-based protein. Just like chia, they are rich in heart healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids. Similar to quinoa, hemp is a complete protein, as it contains all nine essential amino acids.

Protein in Hemp: 6 grams in 2 tablespoons

How to Add Hemp to Your Diet:

  • Sprinkle hemp hearts over your morning oatmeal or yogurt bowl. They have a mild, nutty flavor.
  • Try hemp protein powder in your smoothies
  • Make this hemp seed pesto by Walder Wellness
  • Add hemp to cookies or baked goods

Nutritional Yeast

nutritional yeast

Nutritional yeast is an inactive form of yeast, and is sold in flaked form. It is full of nutrition benefits, including B-vitamins and protein. In fact, it’s one of the only plant-based sources of Vitamin B12. Like quinoa and hemp, nutritional yeast contains all nine essential amino acids, making it another plant-based complete protein source.

Nutritional yeast has a savory, cheesy flavor that is delicious in pasta dishes!

Protein in Nutritional Yeast: 10 grams in 2 tablespoons

How to Add Nutritional Yeast to Your Diet:

  • Sprinkle over popcorn for a cheesy flavor, from Nutrition Stripped
  • Add to pasta dishes as a vegan replacement for parmesan cheese
  • Make a vegan Butternut Squash Risotto from Simple Vegan Blog

There you have it! As you can see, these delicious plant-based protein sources are full of other amazing nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Have you tried them all?

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Health Benefits of a High Fiber Diet + High Fiber Foods to Eat Today

Fiber is one of the most important nutrients to consume. Learn all about the health benefits of dietary fiber and the difference between soluble and insoluble fiber in today’s post, including a list of delicious foods to include in a high fiber diet!

Fiber is one of the most important nutrients for our diet, but it does not get the attention it deserves. Fiber is certainly less glamorous than other trendy nutrients, as it might evoke images of your grandparents sipping on metamucil. But, the benefits of fiber go so beyond keeping us regular! I’m all in for making fiber the coolest nutrient, and I hope you will be too after reading this post.

What is Dietary Fiber?

Dietary fiber is the indigestible part of plants that we consume when we eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Unlike the macro and micronutrients, our bodies are unable to digest and absorb fiber, so it passes through our digestive system intact.

Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber

There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. They each have unique health benefits. A high fiber diet should include sources of both types to get maximum benefits.

  • Soluble fiber dissolves in water, so it forms a gel in our digestive tract when we eat it. Because of this, it can bind to cholesterol in our bodies to help lower cholesterol levels. Good sources of soluble fiber include oats, beans, flaxseeds, barley, and apples.
  • Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, so it speeds up digestion and increases stool bulk. Good sources of insoluble fiber include nuts, cauliflower, whole wheat products, Brussels sprouts, and raspberries.

Health Benefits of a High Fiber Diet

  • Keeps us regular. Fiber, especially insoluble fiber, speeds up digestion and increases stool bulk. This helps prevent constipation and diarrhea to keep our bowels healthy and regular.
  • Weight management. High fiber foods are very filling, and lower in calories than other foods. Including many high fiber foods in our diets can promote healthy weight management.
  • Lower cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber forms a gel like substance in our bodies, which binds to “bad” LDL cholesterol to rid it from our bodies. Soluble fiber may also help improve other lipid markers (1).
  • Controls blood sugar levels. Fiber, especially soluble fiber, helps slow the absorption of blood sugar when we eat. Studies show that soluble fiber intake can reduce HbA1C, fasting blood glucose, and insulin resistance in people with Type 2 Diabetes (2).
  • Promotes gut health. The good bacteria that live in our guts depend on fermentable dietary products as a source of energy so they can be healthy and grow. Fiber from our diets feeds these good bacteria, so a high fiber diet promotes probiotic health, abundance, and diversity. Healthy gut bacteria also produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which have their own health benefits such as reduced inflammation and reduced risk of chronic disease (3).
  • Reduced risk of chronic disease. High fiber diets are naturally high in plant foods, so they also come with lots of other amazing vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to help prevent chronic disease, such as cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and Type 2 Diabetes.

Dietary Fiber Recommendations

The dietary fiber recommendations are 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. For women and men over 50, these numbers drop to 21 grams and 30 grams, respectively. For reference, one half cup of black beans has about 8 grams of fiber, one cup of shredded wheat contains about 5 grams, and one half cup of raspberries has 4 grams (4). As you can see, you need to eat multiple portions of fiber rich foods (i.e. plant foods) throughout the day to meet the recommendations.

One reason why many Americans are not meeting their daily fiber needs is because the standard American diet is low in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. There are plenty of fiber supplements out there, but they are devoid of many of the other health benefits that come with plant foods, like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Plus, fiber from supplements may not be as filling as fiber from plant foods.

High Fiber Foods to Add to Your Diet

Now, the fun part! This list is by no means exhaustive, but here are some of my favorite high fiber foods to enjoy daily. There are also some yummy recipes to give you inspiration to add more fiber to your diet!

Oatmeal

Contains 4 grams of fiber per 1 cup cooked oats. Try this Cacao Banana Oatmeal or Banana Baked Oatmeal with Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chips for an easy breakfast!

cacao banana oatmeal

Quinoa

Quinoa contains 2.6 grams of fiber per half cup. These Quinoa Enchilada Stuffed Peppers or this Moroccan Quinoa Salad from Choosing Chia would be perfect to add to your dinner menu!

quinoa stuffed peppers

Whole Wheat Pasta

Swap out white pasta for whole wheat, and you’ll get 3.2 grams of fiber per half cup serving! Some of my favorite whole wheat pasta dishes are this Spring Pasta with Lemon, Asparagus, Mushrooms, and Peas, and this Pasta Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Tuna.

high fiber diet pasta salad

Kale

One cup of kale has 2.6 grams of fiber. Even more reason to keep up your kale caesar habit! Check out this dairy free version, this Kale Cobb Salad from Dishing out Health, and this Rose Pasta with Asparagus and Kale from The First Mess to get your kale on!

kale caesar salad

Sweet Potato

One medium sweet potato has almost 4 grams of fiber. Make sure you’re eating the skin, though, as this is where most of the fiber (and other nutrients) lives! These Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potatoes are a favorite of mine, and I’ve been dying to try these Grilled Sweet Potato Wedges by Mad About Food!

mexican stuffed sweet potato high fiber diet

Chickpeas

Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are an excellent source of plant based protein and fiber. One half cup contains 8 grams! Fill up on this Chickpea and Roasted Vegetable Salad, Loaded Greek Hummus for a Crowd, or Chickpea and Avocado Stuffed Sweet Potatoes.

chickpea and roasted vegetable salad

Black Beans

Black beans pack 7.5 grams of fiber per one half cup. Try out this delicious mango avocado salsa over my Mushroom Tacos, or this Black Bean Tomato Avocado Salad by Little Spice Jar.

mango avocado black bean salsa

White Beans

Are you guys picking up on a bean trend here? White beans are also a good source of fiber. One half cup will give you 5.7 grams! I love to make this Dreamy Pink Beet and White Bean Dip for dipping, and this Tuscan White Bean and Kale Soup from Kristine’s Kitchen sounds so cozy.

white bean dip

Lentils

I love lentils of all kinds. One half cup has almost 8 grams of fiber. This Coconut Curry Red Lentil Soup is one of my favorites. Also, check out this Lemony Lentil Soup by Gimme Some Oven.

coconut curry red lentil soup

Apples

One medium apple has about 4.5 grams of fiber. I love to put sautéed apples in my morning oatmeal and munch on apple nachos as a healthy snack.

apple nachos

Pears

Pears have even more fiber than apples. One pear has almost 6 grams of fiber! Some of my favorite pear recipes are Hasselback Baked Pears and Ginger Roasted Beets, Sweet Potatoes, and Pears.

hasselback baked pear

Chia Seeds

Last but not least, chia seeds are a really excellent dietary fiber source. One tablespoon has a 4 grams! Try this Blended Chocolate Chia Pudding or this Dreamy Coconut Chia Pudding with Blueberries from The Wooden Skillet.

chocolate chia pudding

High fiber diets are super healthy, because as you can see, they include lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. If you’re increasing your fiber intake, make sure to also drink plenty of water, because fiber digests better with water. What is your favorite way to get more fiber in your diet?

Let me know if you love this post by leaving a comment below, and check out Instagram and Pinterest for more healthy lifestyle inspiration.

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