2019 Healthy Habit 3: Adding More Whole Foods In Your Diet

I don’t know about you, but for me during the winter it’s easier for me to eat more processed, pick up and go type foods. I want more baked goods, more foods with refined flours and sugar and less of fruits and vegetables. There is a balance with everything, but at the beginning of the new year I like to try to get this part of my diet back in order. The reason?

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More Nutrient Value

As many of you may know, processing foods strips the food of vital nutrients and can lessen the nutritional value. This can be any type of food preparation. Exposing it to oxygen, light, heat or water during cooking will lessen the nutrient value. There is always some nutrient loss when preparing food in general.

However, HIGHLY processed foods are foods that contain:

  • Preservatives (to prevent rotting)
  • Colors
  • Added Flavors
  • Usually is high in added sugars (like high fructose corn syrup)
  • Usually high in refined grains (which is stripped of fiber and nutrients)

These foods add calories with little to no nutritional value. Because of the artificial ingredients, high in sugar, and using highly processed and refined ingredients, it’s lower in nutritional value. They are more calorie dense than nutrient dense.

Eating whole foods like raw fruits, vegetables, and whole grains like whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa, barley, oats, etc. starts getting your diet and nutrition level back to a healthier level. More nutritional value, the better your body will work with you. Then later on when you want to make a big change, your diet is already on the right path.

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Fiber

I talk about fiber a lot in my recipe and nutrition posts but it truly is an important part of your overall health. We already talked about how much water is an important part of health, nutrition, and your digestive process. Fiber is almost just as simple and covers a wide range of benefits as well. There are two types of fiber. Below is what they both help with and then later is where to find those types of fibers in foods.

Soluble Fiber

  • Increases the feeling of being full and satisfied
  • Lowers blood cholesterol by helping to bind with bile
  • Slows glucose absorption
  • Helps with weight management
  • Lowers risk of heart disease
  • Improves blood glucose tolerance and lowers risk of diabetes
  • Lowers risk of colon and rectal cancer

Food Sources of Soluble Fiber

Barley, rye, oats, oat bran, apples, citrus fruit, legumes, seaweed, broccoli, carrots, corn, potatoes, seeds and more.

Insoluble Fiber

  • Softens stools and aids in intestinal motility
  • Increases feelings of fullness
  • Reduce risk of constipation, hemorrhoids, appendicitis, diverticulitis, etc.
  • Lowers rick of colon and rectal cancer
  • Helps with weight management

Food Sources of Insoluble Fiber

Wheat bran, whole grains, brown rice, fruits, legumes, cabbage, brussels sprouts, carrots, nuts, seeds, and more.

Bottom Line

Whole foods adds nutrients and fiber to your diet. Although processed foods are starting to add fiber more and more to their products, remember they will still have less nutritional value and usually more added sugars than eating whole foods. Not to mention process foods have food additives and that there is more of a chance it will contain allergens or be processed in a factory that also processes food allergens.

If you are wanting to start to change your diet for the healthier, start with introducing or getting back to eating mainly whole foods.

Easy Way to Start: 
  • Have a piece of fruit, not canned, with breakfast
  • Have at least 1/2, if not 1/3, of your plate consisting of vegetables and whole grains or natural starches with your protein of choice
    • Salad and a baked potato
    • Roasted carrots and brown rice
    • Broccoli and a baked sweet potato
  • Have 1 of your servings of protein a day be a plant based source for added fiber
    • Lentils
    • Beans
    • Nuts and Seeds
  • Keep in mind to have some sort of raw fruit or vegetable at every meal

Whatever might work for you, remember that having nutrient and fiber dense foods will help with your nutrition, digestive health and can help lower the risk of some major diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Getting your diet habits back on track with adding and increasing your whole foods will help when you are ready to make a full diet change later if you are not fully ready to do so. What are you waiting for?

Apple, Pear & Cranberry Cobbler

Fall and winter scream for baked desserts. Having some of my favorites like pumpkin pie, apple dumplings, cinnamon rolls, and so much more, are always on the list once the weather gets cooler, but you don’t always have to have a dessert that is all that bad for you. I was shocked, and so was the rest of my family, about how delicious and rich this was. After a serving of this we were all satisfied and full. Let’s first talk about the main ingredients in most desserts – sugar, flour, and fat – and see how this dessert, although still being calorie dense, is changed for the healthier.

The Sweetener

Sugar is sugar, is sugar is sugar. Juice, maple syrup, honey, agave, turbinado sugar, date sugar, refined sugar – it’s sugar. However, using unrefined sources for a sweetener like maple syrup, honey, and orange juice still adds sugar but is not from highly processed sources.

With that in mind, in this dessert some of the sugar is from the broken down apples and pears. They are full of natural sugar and by keeping the peels on, you also keep the fiber in the dessert. When cooking there will be a loss of nutrients, but fiber pretty much stays the same which is good when we are talking about a dessert with sugar. Fiber allows the sugar to be absorbed at a slower rate so having something sweet with fiber (like fruit naturally has) does help your body absorb sugar at a slower pace and has more time to use it for energy instead of immediately being dosed with it and storing right away because of the overload. Not to mention the blood sugar spike.

The Flour

This recipe doesn’t use any flour. I only uses oats to create a crunchy topping. So if you are gluten free, make sure to use gluten-free oats. Using oats you can keep it whole food and nothing has been processed and stripped of anything. Plus to fact that we still keep that fiber in there as well.

The Fat

As you may know there are the “good” fats and the “bad” fats. An easy rule of thumb to tell the difference is if the fat/oil is solid at room temperature.

  • For instance butter and shortening is soft, but is still solid at room temperature. This means it is saturated fat or “bad” fat. This is fat that is easily stored and is known to increase LDL cholesterol.
  • Unsaturated fat is liquid at room temperature like olive oil, vegetable oil, and canola oil. These oils are known as the “good” fats. They are easily used in the body and can have some nutritional value because of Omega fatty acids. For instance, olive oil, has been known to decrease “bad” LDL cholesterol when replacing unsaturated fats.

In this recipe I use either canola or vegetable oil in the oat mixture to make sure it doesn’t burn and also creates a crunchy top. You’ll find that all in all, for a baked dessert, there is not a lot of oil added.

 

Apple Pear Cranberry Cobbler
  • Unprocessed source of sugar & is partly from the broken down cooked fruit
  • Oats only, no flour to keep it whole food
  • Unsaturated “good” fat, no “bad” fats

This is still a dessert and calorie dense, but it’s so worth it! Plus the added facts of it being a whole food dessert, easy, low-sodium, and the fat is good unsaturated fats. Enjoy!

Apple, Pear, & Cranberry Cobbler

  • Servings: 12 servings, about 1 cup each
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 3 apples, chopped, I use honey crisp apples
  • 2 pears, chopped
  • 12 oz. bag cranberries
  • 4 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1 cup Grade A maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 4 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • OAT CRISP
  • 2 1/2 cups old fashion oats *See note
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp nutmeg

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Chop your apples and pears and add to a 9×13 baking pan. No need to prepare the pan with oil or butter before adding anything, leave it dry. Whisk together the corn starch or arrowroot with the water in a small bowl until starch is dissolved. Add to the starch mixture the maple syrup, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Whisk together. Pour over fruit and gently mix to coat with the wet mixture.
  3. In a medium bowl add oats, honey, canola oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg and stir together. Once mixed together, pour lightly over top of the fruit and spread around to cover the top.
  4. Bake on 350 degrees F for 50-55 minutes or until oats start to brown and the fruit is bubbling on the sides. Your house will smell wonderful!
  5. Let cool for about 5 minutes after taking it out of the oven and serve!

If you are gluten free, make sure to buy gluten free oats. I was not aware of this until a friend had told me about how oats can easily be cross-contaminated with other things that include gluten. Make sure to find gluten-free oats.

Nutritional Information

About 1 cup serving

405 calories | 11.9 g fat | 1.2 g saturated fat | 0 g trans fat | 0 mg cholesterol | 7.5 mg sodium | 70 g carbohydrates | 7 g fiber | 37 g sugar | 4.5 g protein

Macro Sources

69% Carbohydrates | 26% Fat | 5% Protein

Dietary Servings per Portion
  • 1.2 Fruit
  • 1.8 Grain