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Psyllium in Everything!

Posted Oct 04 2010 5:26pm

Ever since I started buying the MGN Whey Isolate protein powder in Cinnamon Bun flavor, I have been making protein pancakes at least twice a week.  They make a decent meal all on their own, especially mid-afternoon when I have no veggies or carbs to accompany them, but I have definitely been known to make them for dinner with some roasted veggies and spaghetti squash too.  My most recent addition to the standard recipe, however, is psyllium husk powder, a fiber supplement that my trainer recommended and that one of my favorite bloggers uses.  The stats on this stuff are great: 15 calories per teaspoon, 5 g of fiber, most of it soluble.  That’s a huge amount of fiber for such a tiny little serving!

Some might be wondering how it’s possible that I am blogging about adding more fiber to my diet when I clearly already get the recommended minimum of 25 g per day simply through the oats, sweet potatoes, berries & 17 servings of veggies I eat.  Even my tofu has a few grams of fiber in it!  The issue, though, is not that I don’t get the daily recommended amount of fiber — the issue is that, for many people who have IBS, as I suspect that I do , the required daily fiber intake may actually be significantly higher than average.  Some folks with IBS actually do well with less fiber, so this is dependent (like all IBS treatment) on the individual and not on tried and true prescribed treatments.  I’ve been reading a you-know-what load of information (censored pun intended) about IBS lately, though, and I think my stomach would benefit from some extra fiber.  The problem was where to fit it; again, I already eat 17 servings of veggies a day.  My belly doesn’t have room for another head of broccoli.

Enter psyllium.  It’s a bunch of fiber in a small, easily hidden dose.  Some people add it to drinks, like OJ or plain water, just like one would do with Metamucil or other flavored psyllium products.  I purchased plain old powdered psyllium instead of the stuff loaded with flavors and artificial sweeteners, but then I had to figure out how to use it.  I had read, at Foods of April , that she uses several tablespoons (yes, tablespoons!) of psyllium in many of her pancake batters, so that’s where I started.  April makes her protein pancakes differently than I do, so I kept my recipe the same and simply added some psyllium to the mix.  The first time I did this, I only added 1 teaspoon.  The pancakes turned out noticeably thicker than normal, which turned out to be a yummy change.  The next time I made them, I added a full 2 teaspoons to the batter, and the pancakes were even better.  Psyllium expands into a gel-like substance when it hits liquid, so the protein pancake batter got much thicker than normal, especially with 2 teaspoons of psyllium.  I had to add an extra 1/4 cup water to the batter to thin it out enough to pour it into the pan to cook.  The resulting pancakes, however, were far closer to “real” pancakes than any protein pancakes I’ve made to date, and this is encouraging for someone like me who doesn’t like to put oats in her protein pancakes.  The final recipe — the one I’m currently happy with — is simple:

1 scoop protein
1/4 cup egg whites
1/4 cup cottage cheese
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons psyllium husks
cinnamon to taste

This makes two normal-sized pancakes, and the pancakes are tender, soft and genuinely good.  And did I mention that they’re super filling?  That’s what psyllium does when it expands!

My next adventures in psyllium are going to involve protein shakes and omelets.  I have already put some psyllium in my morning oatmeal (just 1 teaspoon so the oats don’t get gloppy), and I have already discovered that psyllium should be added to oatmeal AFTER it cooks, not before.  I’ve also put a teaspoon in a protein shake and didn’t even know the psyllium was there.  I am hoping, however, to be able to get several teaspoons (if not 2 tablespoons) of this stuff into me each day, so I will likely try adding 2 teaspoons to protein shakes soon.  As for the omelets, I think 1 teaspoon in 3/4 cup egg whites would work.  More than that might become a pancake instead of an omelet!  There are other possibilities as well, such as in sauces and soups, where the psyllium would act like a thickener,  or in protein baked goods, where it would act like a low carb flour-like ingredient, much like ground flaxseed.

The only downside?  Adding more fiber to one’s diet requires adding more liquid as well.  So I have gone from drinking a gallon of water a day to more than two gallons.  In fact, by the time lunch was over today, I had already consumed at least 160 ounces of water, not including coffee and tea or the liquid in my protein shake.  Water helps keep the body flushed, though, and helps reduce bloating, so that’s probably good for my stomach too!  As my mother might say, I might float away from drinking so much.  But at least my stomach will feel better when I do!

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