Child and Adult Care Food Program


"Eat your roughage." How many of us were told by our mothers that we needed to eat those vegetables and grains? Studies now suggest that mother was right. People who eat more roughage or fiber have lowered risks of developing many kinds of cancer, heart disease, intestinal disorders and diabetes.

Fiber is the indigestible portion of the stems, roots, skins and leaves of plant foods. Fiber helps to keep the digestive tract healthy, prevent constipation, and lower cholesterol. One of the benefits of eating high fiber foods is that they tend to be low fat foods as well. So when you serve foods high in fiber, you often have the added advantage of serving a low fat food.

Fiber is found in plant foods - breads, cereals, grains, dried beans, fruits and vegetables. It is especially plentiful in those foods that have not been heavily processed. To maximize the fiber in fruits and vegetables, serve them whole and with their skin to older children. Dried fruits such as prunes, apricots, and figs are very high in fiber. Fruit and vegetable juices provide very little fiber.

Good Sources of Fiber from Each Meal Component

Bread / Bread Alternates Meat / Meat Alternates Milk Fruits Vegetables
  • Whole grain breads and rolls
  • Brown rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Whole grain cereals
  • Dried beans
  • Dried peas
  • Dried lentils
Not a source of fiber
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Dried fruit
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Prunes
  • Raisins
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Corn
  • Green beans
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes with skin
  • Tomatoes

[+] Expand All Items Below | [-] Collapse All Items Below

Bulking Up on Fiber

  • Leave the skin on fruits, potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Replace fruit juices with whole fruit
  • Serve brown rice instead of white rice
  • Use 100% whole wheat bread and pita bread
  • Serve dry beans as a main or side dish often
  • Serve fresh fruit or dried fruit for snacks
  • Bake apples or pears for dessert
  • Add barley to soups
  • Serve oatmeal for breakfast
  • Add oatmeal to recipes
  • Serve whole grain cereals that provide at least 3 grams of fiber per serving
  • Replace half of the enriched flour with whole wheat flour in muffin, pancake, and quick bread recipes

Modifying a Recipe to Increase Fiber (and Reduce Sugar and Fat)

As you gain skills modifying recipes, it gets easier to determine which changes will give good results. It is best to make one change at a time so that you can discover which changes work well for the particular recipe you are modifying. In the following recipe for banana bread, the fiber is increased by substituting 1 cup of oats for 1 cup of flour. The sugar is easy to reduce because the bananas provide a sweet taste for the bread. The fat in the recipe is changed from margarine to liquid oil and cut in half. The moisture of the oil is replaced by water. The result is a tasty, wholesome banana bread!

Banana Bread - Original Recipe

  • Margarine
  • 2 c enriched flour
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/2 c margarine
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9" X 5" loaf pan with margarine. Stir together dry ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

High Fiber Banana Bread

  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 1 c enriched flour
  • 1 c oats
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/4 c oil
  • 2 t baking soda, dissolved in 1/4 c water
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9" X 5" loaf pan with vegetable cooking spray. Stir together dry ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.


Sample Steps to Increase Fiber Intake

Strategy: Look for opportunities to serve more fresh fruit on your menu. Perhaps on some days you could use fruit to replace fruit juice given for snacks. Or serve fruit with cereal instead of juice. Fresh fruit can be baked for dessert without any loss of fiber. Baked apples or pears are good choices. Little children often enjoy dipping slices of fruit into a yogurt sauce.

Teaching children: Have a tasting party of unusual fruits. Consider introducing them to "ugli" fruit, papaya, mango, guava, kiwi, and star fruit. Allow the children to touch and smell the fruits prior to preparing them for tasting. Discuss their differences in color, skin texture, taste and seed types. Compare these features with fruits that the children commonly eat such as apples, bananas, peaches and grapes.

Educating families: To encourage further discussion about fruits, report to families after the tasting party about the fruits that their youngster enjoyed tasting. Provide a recipe using the fruits, a yogurt sauce for dipping, or a fruit dessert.

Planning for change: Provide a short training for the day care staff using information from this section on the importance of fiber for health. The food label is a helpful guide to making high fiber food choices. Demonstrate with labels from cereals and breads, using a variety of high fiber (> 3 grams) and low fiber products. Be sure to point out whether the flour is whole grain or refined ("enriched wheat flour") on the ingredient list. Products made with whole grain flour are high in fiber and should be included in your menus as often as possible. As a learning activity, let the staff make changes in the menu based upon their new knowledge.

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