This summer treat provides valuable fiber
When it comes to nutrition, having the right mindset is key. Instead of focusing on what to remove from your diet, focus on what you can add into your diet to make it healthier. This is called an abundance mindset versus a restrictive mindset and is much more sustainable.
When thinking about what you can add into your diet, a great way to start is by focusing on adding in more high fiber foods. Females should aim to consume 25 grams of dietary fiber per day, while males need 38 grams of dietary fiber per day. The health benefits of getting adequate dietary fiber include keeping your blood sugar within a healthy range, lowering your cholesterol levels, ensuring optimal digestion and normal bowel function and providing fullness at meals which can help with managing your weight.
One of the easiest ways to increase your fiber intake is to focus on whole grains. A grain in nature is essentially the entire seed of the plant made up of the bran, germ, and endosperm. Refining the grain removes the germ and the bran; thus, fiber, protein, and other key nutrients are lost. Whole grains are not refined and include whole grain breads, brown rice, quinoa, and oats, for example.
Another easy way to add in more fiber is by increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables. Simply try making half of your meal plates vegetables and or fruits. It is important however, when increasing higher fiber-containing foods into your diet that you do it gradually and with plenty of fluids to avoid any stomach upset.
This summer vegetable ratatouille recipe is filled with fiber from all of the fresh vegetables and with the added chicken sausage, it makes for a delicious, filling and satisfying meal.
Summer Ratatouille with Chicken Sausage
1/3 cup olive oil
24 oz of cooked Italian chicken sausage, sliced into 1 inch pieces
2 green bell peppers, chopped
2 white onions, chopped
2 small/medium zucchini or 1 large, chopped
2 summer small/medium summer squash or 1 large, chopped
1 med/large eggplant, peeled and chopped
1 ½ cup green beans, ends trimmed and cut in half
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 – 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes
1 cup of jarred marinara (no sugar added variety- like RAO’s)
½ tsp. of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
4-5 leaves fresh basil, julienned for serving
Grated parmesan cheese for serving
Heat 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium/high heat. Saute the chicken sausage until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the sausage from the pan and set aside. Next add in 1 Tbsp of the olive oil and saute the onions and peppers until slightly tender, about 5 minutes, remove from the pan and set aside. Add in 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil and saute the zucchini and squash until slightly tender, about 5 minutes, remove from the pan and set aside. Add in 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil and saute the eggplant and green beans until slightly tender, about 5 minutes. To the cooked eggplant and green beans, add the minced garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add back the cooked sausage and the rest of the vegetables into the pot. Season all with salt, pepper, oregano, and red pepper flakes (if using). Add in the canned diced tomatoes and the marinara sauce. Stir all to combine. Cover and simmer on medium high for about 20-25 minutes until all vegetables are fork tender. Add the fresh basil. Turn off the heat and serve hot with grated parmesan cheese.
Serve the ratatouille over your favorite whole grain like polenta, brown rice, or whole wheat or bean-based pastas for more fiber and a balanced meal.
This family-sized recipe can easily be cut in half to enjoy for one or two meals or make it as is and any leftovers can be frozen in airtight containers and stored in the freezer for up to three months.
Gwen Johnson, RD, LDN is a Registered Dietitian and Owner of Sage Nutrition Solutions, a private nutrition counseling practice located in Pepperell, Mass. that serves clients in North Middlesex County in Massachusetts and Hillsborough County in Southern New Hampshire. For more information visit her website at https://www.sagenutritionsolutions.com/