Should You Rinse Quinoa Before Cooking?

Quinoa is a naturally gluten free grain packed with protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients. If you’re cooking quinoa for the first time, you might be wondering if it needs to be rinsed before cooking. If so, read on for all the details on how to do that correctly!

white, red, and black quinoa in a wooden bowl.

What is saponin?

Saponins, get their name because they lather up in water, like soap suds. The herb soapwort is one of the most concentrated sources of saponins and sometimes used to make a natural cleanser.

Saponin is a natural substance found on quinoa that can be removed by rinsing. Saponin has a subtle unpleasant bitter taste. By rinsing quinoa before cooking, it removes saponins, therefore removing the bitterness.

Are saponins safe?

Saponins are phytochemicals made by plants as a method of natural pest control. The bitter taste of these compounds makes the plant less palatable to birds, insects, and humans.

Rinsing quinoa just removes that bitterness, making quinoa more enjoyable.

plated meal with salmon and quinoa

Health benefits of quinoa

Pronounced KEEN-wah, quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contain sufficient amounts of all nine essential amino acids.

One cup (185 grams) of cooked quinoa, provides:

  • Protein: 8 grams
  • Fiber: 5 grams
  • Manganese: 58% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA)
  • Magnesium: 30% of the RDA
  • Phosphorus: 28% of the RDA
  • Folate: 19% of the RDA
  • Copper: 18% of the RDA
  • Iron: 15% of the RDA
  • Zinc: 13% of the RDA
  • Potassium 9% of the RDA

Fun fact: There are over 1,800 varieties of quinoa, but the three main types you’ll find in the grocery store are white, red, and black.


The Truth About Norwegian Farm-Raised Salmon

Separate facts and fiction about farm-raised salmon and learn how the Norwegian aquaculture industry sets the standard for high-quality, safe, and sustainably farmed salmon.

This post is sponsored by the Norwegian Seafood Council. Thank you for supporting brands that make this blog possible!

I had an incredible opportunity last year to travel to Norway to learn first hand about seafood from Norway. As a dietitian and a chef, I am invested in learning about where our food comes from and the sustainability practices behind them to create a thriving future for the next generation.

Sustainability has been one of the main objectives of the Norwegian fishing industry, committed producing seafood in a safe, controlled, and sustainable manner with strict regulations.

Get the facts about farm-raised salmon from Norway

  • Farm-raised salmon from Norway is raised in its natural habitat and not a cramped pool of fish swimming on top of each other. The ratio of the pens in the fjord is 97.5% water to 2.5% salmon.
  • Farm-raised salmon from Norway is able to have much more control to prevent disease and mortality.
  • Seafood from Norway is all about sustainability. Since fishing had been part of their heritage for more than 2,000 years, taking care of the sea for the next generation is part of their culture.
  • Seafood from Norway is shipped fresh or frozen! (really, however, the customer wants it!)

Why origin matters

There are a lot of choices out there when it comes to seafood – both wild and farmed. Salmon is really one of the most popular species in the US and there are a number of species available with different characteristics.

The origin of the seafood, as every country has completely different practices.

How to identify seafood from Norway

According to the USDA, Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) is a consumer labeling law that requires retailers (grocery stores and supermarkets) to identify the country of origin on certain foods, including wild-caught fish, farm-raised fish, and shellfish.

It will clearly be listed that the seafood is from Norway or you can look for the Seafood From Norway seal.

Our group in Norway with safety gear to check out the Fjords.

Why eat more fish

Seafood helps build healthy hearts. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, lowering the risk of heart disease.

Storing fresh salmon

Fresh salmon can last up to two days if stored close to 32 degrees, rather than up to one day at the typical home refrigerator temperature of 40 degrees. Place the fish in a zipper-lock bag on ice in a bowl (or cover it with ice packs) and place it at the back of the fridge, where it’s coldest.

How to freeze salmon

If you want to freeze raw salmon, pat it dry, and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, place it in an airtight container and freeze it. Make sure to label it with the date and use it within three months.

Cooking Tips

Skin side up or skin side down?

First of all—skin is tasty! So when you’re cooking salmon, keep that skin on. It provides a safety layer between your fish’s flesh and a hot pan or grill. Start with the skin-side down, and let it crisp up. It’s much easier to slide a fish spatula under the salmon’s skin than under its delicate flesh.

Best ways to cook salmon

  • Pan-fry
  • Roast
  • Broil
  • Skillet to the oven (just make sure your pan is oven-safe!)
  • Grill
  • Poached
  • In parchment (also known as en pappillote, French for “wrapped up in parchment.”)

For more information about Seafood From Norway visit:

Have additional questions? Comment below!

Charcoal vs. Gas Grills – What’s the difference?

Fire up the grill! Both charcoal and gas grills are great but there are a few distinct differences in how your grilled food will come out. There are both advantages and disadvantages of using charcoal and gas grills.

person in blue apron cooking on a charcoal grill

Charcoal Grills

Cooking over an open flame is the most basic, and probably the oldest, culinary technique. Charcoal grills provide a more distinct smoky flavor along with that amazing backyard aroma. It’s such a tease when you can smell someone in the neighborhood grilling. Scented wood chips or charcoal will add additional flavor.

Cons: However, charcoal can be a little messy and sometimes tricky to regulate the temperature.

Tips for setting up charcoal grills for different applications.

Gas Grills

Just turn on a switch and your gas grill is fired up and ready to go. Gas grills are able to easily regulate the temperature and often gas grills have different settings that you can easily regulate areas of the grill at different temperatures.

Cons: You won’t really get that smoky flavor, but you are able to cook various items on the grill at the same time.

cooked vegetables on a gas grill

Best Grilling Tools

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Build A Better Burger

Fire up your grills. It’s burger season. Let’s Build a Better Burger! Burgers are just not simply a beef patty between a sesame seed bun anymore. Grillers are getting a little more creative and adding healthy twists to classic BBQ fare.

Choose Your Protein:

First, choose your meat or meatless patty. Choose the protein you enjoy.

For Beef

Look for 90% lean beef. While others may challenge this choice saying more fat = more flavor, think about the rest of your burger. You can pack in plenty of flavors and have a juicy burger while trimming back on saturated fat from a beef burger. Look for lean beef options like ground sirloin.

For Poultry

For ground chicken and turkey, look for “breast meat” or “100% white meat” to ensure it’s coming from leaner parts of the poultry. 

For your meat patties, salt, and pepper are really the only seasonings you need. Let all of the flavors of your burger shine.

Cooking Tip: Spatulas were made for flipping the patties, not pressing them. Ever heard that hissing sound when you pressed down on them? That’s all the flavorful juices dripping out. They belong in the burger!

Grilling Tip: To ensure the meat cooks evenly, make a thumbprint indentation into each patty before it goes on the grill. The indentation helps the patty hold its shape, rather than swelling, as it shrinks during the cooking process.

Going meatless? No problem!

Portobello mushrooms are the perfect stand-in for a hamburger. It has a hearty meaty texture, with no saturated fat or cholesterol.  You can also try the “blend trend” and go 50/50 meat and mushrooms.

Pack your burger with pulses. Pulses are part of the legume family and are better known as beans and lentils. Peas, chickpeas, lentils, and dried beans like kidney or navy beans fall into the pulse category. Pulses are a nutrition powerhouse, full of protein, fiber, iron, zinc, and B-vitamins. 

Bean burgers are often mixed with veggies and other whole grains. To prevent your bean burgers from falling apart on the grill, don’t forget a good binding agent, which is what is going to hold your burger together. An egg or even a “flax egg” (1 tbsp ground flax mixed with 3 tbsp warm water) can do the trick.

Pick Your Bun

You just made a tasty burger so don’t skimp out on the bun. A simple healthy swap is choosing a whole grain burger bun. Before you add those burger buns to your shopping cart, make sure the first ingredient listed is the word “whole”. Looking to trim back on carbs or need a gluten-free option? Try going bun-less! Sturdy lettuce or leafy green like iceberg lettuce, kale, or collard greens can be the perfect vessel to hold your delicious burger. Another idea is adding your burger between two grilled Portobello mushroom caps.

Load on the Produce

The produce possibilities are endless. The more the merrier!

You can go for the simple, LTO (lettuce, tomato, onion) or also enhance this classic topping with a culinary twist. Try using large leaf delicate lettuces like Bibb lettuce, opt for juicy heirloom tomatoes, and try pickled onions to enhance the flavors. 

Sautéed mushrooms with caramelized onions are my personal favorite burger topping, but if you are looking for a sweet addition try adding grilled pineapple. 

Want to add even more produce? Try packing your burger patties with veggies! It’s not only a sneaky way to add more vegetables and nutrients, but it also keeps the burger moist and juicy.

Sauce It Up

Let the ingredients speak for themselves. Don’t hide the delicious flavors of the burger and toppings itself by overdressing your burger. Add a dollop of ketchup, mustard, or BBQ sauce.  Compare condiments before you grab one off the shelf in the grocery store. Look for condiments lower in sugar. Even better, make your own condiments.

Want to step your flavor game up a notch? Try adding other condiments like relish, sauerkraut, tzatziki sauce, guacamole, hummus, salsa, pesto, or hot sauce.

Top It Off

Say cheese! Hard and firm cheeses like cheddar, Parmesan, and gruyere work well with all kinds of burgers from beef, to poultry, to veggie versions. A little goes a long way.

Tip: To make sure it doesn’t take extra long to melt, let the cheese come to room temperature before adding to burgers.

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Best Type of Apples To Use in Recipes

Do you know the best type of apples to use in recipes?

While I know many will be apple picking this season, a variety of apples are better for various culinary uses. Learn about the best type of apples to use in recipes.

Stumped on what apple to use for your recipes? It’s not just apples to apples. Different apples contain different tastes, culinary uses, and may even ripen at different times during the season. Here are some apple varieties that are commonly found while apple picking:

hand holding apple


Taste: rich, tart, spicy, crisp
Best for: baking, hand-eating
Ripens: late October


Taste: crisp, juicy, sweetly tart
Best for: baking, hand-eating, salads
Ripens: mid-September


Taste: crisp, juicy, sweet, spicy
Best for: fruit cups, hand-eating, salads
Ripens: September


Taste: super sweet, crisp
Best for: cooking, hand-eating, sauce, pie
Ripens: late October


Taste: firm, sweet, snappy
Best for: sauce, hand-eating, salads
Ripens: late August

Golden Delicious

Taste: mildly sweet, juicy, crisp
Best for: sauce, pie, cooking, hand-eating
Ripens: mid-September

Granny Smith

Taste: tart, crisp, juicy
Best for: cooking, hand-eating, juice
Ripens: late October


Taste: sweet, slightly tart
Best for: salads, baking, juice, hand-eating
Ripens: September

Ida Red

Taste: sweetly tart, firm, juicy
Best for: baking, hand-eating
Ripens: mid-October


Taste: sweetly tart, juicy, spicy
Best for: baking, hand-eating, sauce
Ripens: mid-September


Taste: crisp, juicy, sweetly tart
Best for: cooking, hand-eating, salads
Ripens: September

Red Delicious

Taste: juicy, sweet
Best for: hand-eating, sauce
Ripens: late September

Best Type of Apples To Use in Recipes

A few apple recipes to inspire you!

The Secret to Cutting Brownies Neatly

Don’t leave a crumb behind! Utilize this simple tip for cutting brownies neatly. Hint: There is no fancy kitchen equipment needed.

brownies stacked on top of each other divided by parchment paper

There is absolutely nothing worse than cutting into a freshly baked tray of brownies and they stick to the knife, creating a mess. A big clumpy chunk of brownie stuck to the knife destroying the perfect brownie square.

One reason when cutting brownies may stick to the knife is not waiting long enough to cool. Patience. It’s hard, especially when it comes to warm brownies right out of the oven.

batch of brownies cut into squares

Majority of the time the reason cutting brownies turns into a sloppy mess is because you aren’t using the correct knife. Now, I’m not talking about any fancy kind of knife here, but a simple plastic knife.

Use a plastic knife to cut brownies

Plastic knives are naturally non-stick and won’t tear the brownies as you are slicing. When cutting brownies with a metal knife the fudgy center of the brownie clings to the knife. There are known methods of spraying a metal knife with cooking spray or running it under warm water after each cut, but who has time for that?

Additionally, instead of a “sawing” back and forth cutting motion, cut in one fluid motion.

Now tell me – are you team corner, edge, or center brownie? Comment below!

hand cutting brownies

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How to Store Asparagus to Help it Last Longer

Utilize these tips on how to select and store asparagus properly to help it last longer.

asparagus in a mason jar against a white tile background

Selecting Asparagus

Asparagus is most widely available from February to June, with April being the peak.

Did you know?
Size isn’t an indicator of quality or flavor; thick asparagus is just more mature than the thin variety. Instead, look for firm, straight, and plump stalks of asparagus vibrant in color. Avoid stems that are very firm, woody, and cracked. This is a sign of aging and drying out.

The tips, also called the buds, of asparagus, are just as important to pay attention to as the stalks. Look for asparagus tips that a tight and firm with a hint of dark green and purple color to them.

asparagus on a marble cutting board

Notice that in the produce department or at the farmer’s market, the asparagus bunches are rubber-banded and lined up in a trough of water? If not and just lined up on the shelf, the asparagus has already started drying out resulting in more to trim off and less to eat, when ready to use.

There is nothing worse that taking out asparagus from the vegetable crisper to find either limp or dried out asparagus.

asparagus in a copper dish

Asparagus will keep for a week or more in the refrigerator if stored properly. Treat asparagus like flowers, needing to be kept upright and moist in water to stay fresh.

The Best Way to Store Asparagus

  1. Right when you bring home asparagus from the grocery store or farmer’s market, trim about an inch off the ends of the asparagus.
  2. Stand the asparagus up in a glass jar and pour about an inch or two of water at the bottom, making sure all the ends are sitting in the water.
  3. Loosely cover the asparagus with a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator for up to a week. If the water looks cloudy, just change it as needed.
asparagus in a tall mason jar

Health Benefits of Asparagus

Asparagus, being packed with antioxidants is one of the top-ranked fruits and vegetables for its ability to neutralize cell-damaging free radicals. This may help slow the aging process and reduce inflammation. 

The green veggie is packed with good-for-you vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6, as well as folate, iron, copper, calcium, protein, and fiber.

Kitchen Basics: Chef Knife

The chef knife – one of the most used pieces of kitchen equipment, but do you really know everything about it?

A chef knife, also known as a utility knife or French knife, is the most valuable tool as it can handle many tasks in the kitchen. Each part of the knife has a specific function. Understand these functions to help you better choose a chef knife that would be the best fit for you.

The chef knife - one of the most used pieces of kitchen equipment, but do you really know everything about it? Kitchen Basics: Get to know Your Chef Knife with Chef Julie Harrington, RD @ChefJulie_RD #chef #knife #chefknife #cookingtips #culinary #kitchenbasics

Each knife has a blade, handle, bolster, tang, and rivets.


The blade is the sharp, flat portion of the knife used for cutting. Most knives are made from high-carbon stainless steel, which can be easily sharpened and resistant to rust and discoloration.

The chef knife - one of the most used pieces of kitchen equipment, but do you really know everything about it? Kitchen Basics: Get to know Your Chef Knife with Chef Julie Harrington, RD @ChefJulie_RD #chef #knife #chefknife #cookingtips #culinary #kitchenbasics

Knife blades have five parts: the point, tip, heel, edge, and spine.

  • The point is the foremost section of a knife tip that can be used as a piercing tool.
  • The tip is the front quarter of the knife blade. Most cutting is accomplished between the tip and the heel.
  • The heel is the rear portion of the blade. The heel is used to cut thick food items when more force is required.
  • The edge is the sharpest part of the knife blade that is between the tip and the heel.
  • The spine is not sharp and opposite the edge.


The handle of the knife should be comfortable and properly fit the hand. The weight of the handle may differ, so find one that fits your hand best and is comfortable for you.


Not all knives have bolsters. The bolster is a thick band of metal where the blade meets the handle. The purpose is to provide strength to the knife blade and to prevent slipping from the handle during the cutting process.

Tang and Rivets:

The tang is the tail of the knife blade that extends into the handle. The tang is secured to the handle with rivets. The rivets are metal fasteners to secure the tang to the handle. There are different kinds of tangs.

The chef knife - one of the most used pieces of kitchen equipment, but do you really know everything about it? Kitchen Basics: Get to know Your Chef Knife with Chef Julie Harrington, RD @ChefJulie_RD #chef #knife #chefknife #cookingtips #culinary #kitchenbasics
Source: 50 Effective Knife Techniques by Michael J. McGreal
  • A full tang extends to the end of the handle and typically contains several rivets.
  • A partial tang extends only a partial amount into the handle and had fewer rivets. Partial tangs are less durable but are lighter to handle.
  • A rat-tail tang is a narrow rod of metal that runs the length of the knife handle and no rivets are needed to hold it in place. Knives with a rat-tail tang are less durable than both a full and partial tang knives.
The chef knife - one of the most used pieces of kitchen equipment, but do you really know everything about it? Kitchen Basics: Get to know Your Chef Knife with Chef Julie Harrington, RD @ChefJulie_RD #chef #knife #chefknife #cookingtips #culinary #kitchenbasics

For me, investing in a good kitchen knife is key. Personally, the chef knife is the most used kitchen equipment I use daily.

These are the basics of your chef knife, but stay tuned for more information! Coming up we will talk about different styles of knives and their different uses.

Comment below of questions you have about your knives or kitchen equipment that I can answer in future posts!

This post may contain affiliate links. To find out more information, please read my disclosure statement.

50 effective knife techniques
Michael McGreal – American Technical Publishers – 2017

Lemon Vinaigrette

Brighten any salad, grain, or vegetable dish with this simple lemon vinaigrette. Made with ingredients you probably already have on hand, simply whip this up in a mason jar.

Lemon Vinaigrette in a small glass jar

I don’t think people realize how EASY it is to make a homemade dressing. The most basic vinaigrette recipe is mixing an acid and a base. Then just add seasonings you enjoy. Simply pour ingredients into a mason jar and shake away. Your dressing is made! How easy was that? Plus, making it in a mason jar is ready to store any leftovers.

Lemon Vinaigrette in a small glass jar

If you want to go beyond the basics, use this guide to build your own vinaigrette.

Create a homemade vinaigrette

Choose your acid:

This can be in the form of vinegar or citrus juice. Pick something that matches with your salad mix-ins. Opt for a sweet acid like white wine vinegar, white balsamic vinegar, or an orange juiced, for salads that have fruit. 

Try acids like apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, rice vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, or other citrus juices. 

Tip: Think about the components of your salad. If you have a salad with bright colors, avoid darker vinegar. Once the salad is dressed, those bright vibrant colors will look muddy. Remember – we eat with our eyes first! 

Choose your base:

The base is oil. Use good quality oil. This can be a simple olive oil or fancy garlic and rosemary-infused walnut oil. Again think about the components of your salad. If there are avocados in your salad, why not try avocado oil? 

Try oils like olive oil, avocado oil, walnut oil, pumpkin seed oil, hazelnut oil, or other flavor-infused oils. 

Add seasonings:

If you are new to making dressings, simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing with a pinch of salt and pepper will work just fine. Once you are comfortable making dressings, try amping it up with other seasonings. 

Add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard to add a little tanginess and also to help create a creamier vinaigrette. Add a teaspoon of miso for an umami flavor. Try using fresh herbs for a pop of flavor. For a sweet vinaigrette, add a little maple syrup or honey. 

Lemon Vinaigrette in a small glass jar

Once you start playing around with different combinations, you’ll start to know what flavor combinations you like best!

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lemon vinaigrette in a small jar with lemons

Lemon Vinaigrette

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 3/4 cup 1x
  • Category: dressing
  • Method: no-cook


This lemon vinaigrette is incredibly easy to make. Drizzle it on all your salad and veggie recipes!


  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 lemons, juiced (approx 1/3 cup juice)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste


Simply measure ingredients and add to a mason jar. Secure lid and shake. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Keywords: dressing, vinaigrette, homemade, mason jar, salad dressing, healthy fats, lemon, citrus, cooking tips

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Steel Cut Oats vs. Rolled Oats vs. Quick Oats – What’s the Difference?

February is Heart Health Month and oats have a stellar reputation for their heart health benefit. Do you know the difference between each variety of oats?

variety of oats in steel measuring cups

Fiber’s role in heart health

Dietary fiber can help improve blood cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity and even type 2 diabetes.

The American Heart Association recommends that at least half of the grains you eat be whole grains. Eating whole grains (like oats) are consistently associated with a reduced risk of chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease. Whole grain oats and oat bran can help lower blood cholesterol thanks to the power of beta-glucan – a soluble fiber, largely unique to oats, that basically tells your liver to pull LDL cholesterol out of the blood. Then, it binds to some of the cholesterol in your gut, keeping it from ever reaching your bloodstream.

You head to the grocery store to pick up oats, and there are so many options. Steel-cut oats, rolled oats, old-fashioned oats – what’s the difference?

different variety of oats on a wooden board

Steel Cut Oats

steel cut oats in a metal measuring cup

Steel-cut oats, also known as Irish or Scottish oats, are oats that are processed by chopping the whole oat groat into several pieces. This type of oatmeal takes the longest to cook. Why? Because the outside layer of the whole grain, the bran, is fully intact. A longer cook time penetrates through the bran creating tender, yet a chewy texture that retains much of its shape even after cooking.

Don’t have time in the morning to cook steel-cut oats? I don’t blame you! Prepare them in advance by cooking them over the stovetop, in a crockpot, or Instant Pot. Or try my frozen muffin tin method.

Get the recipe: Frozen (Single Serving) Pumpkin Steel Cut Oatmeal

Rolled Oats

rolled oats in a metal measursing cup

Rolled oats, also known as old-fashioned oats, are created when oat groats are steamed and then rolled into flakes. This process stabilizes the healthy oils in the oats, so they stay fresh longer, and helps the oats cook faster, by creating a greater surface area.

Rolled oats cook faster than steel-cut oats. They absorb more liquid and hold their shape well during cooking. With their faster cook time, enjoy a bowl of warm oatmeal in the morning or use in recipes like muffins, granola, pancakes, or other baked good recipes.

Get the recipe: Quinoa Oatmeal with Berries

Quick Oats

quick oats in a metal measuring cup

Quick oats, also known as minute oats or instant oats are rolled oats and that are steamed for even longer. As the most processed type of oat, instant oatmeal cooks in seconds and has a smooth, creamy, and soft consistency and mild flavor.

Quick cook more quickly than steel-cut or rolled oats, but retain less of their texture, and often cook up mushy. Plus, be mindful of the multiple varieties of quick oats in the shelf. Tip: Opt for the quick oats in the canister vs. the individual packets. Not only will you save money, but often the packets contain disodium phosphate (aka. salt), to help them swell even faster in the microwave, whereas the canister contains just the oats. Additionally, the packets contain added sugar, if choosing the flavored varieties.

Get the recipe: Apple Pie Overnight Oats

oatmeal with strawberries and raspberries in a white bowl

New Research

Consuming uncooked oats, like overnight oats that are soaked in milk or yogurt to soften, contain resistant starch. Resistant starch is a carbohydrate that resists digestion in the small intestine and ferments in the large intestine. As the fibers ferment they act as a prebiotic and feed the good bacteria in the gut.

The John Hopkins Patient Guide to Diabetes notes that “When starches are digested they typically break down into glucose. Because resistant starch is not digested in the small intestine, it doesn’t raise glucose. Gut health is improved as fermentation in the large intestine makes more good bacteria and less bad bacteria in the gut. Healthy gut bacteria can improve glycemic control. Other benefits of resistant starch include increased feeling of fullness, treatment and prevention of constipation, decrease in cholesterol, and lower risk of colon cancer. Resistant starch is fermented slowly so it causes less gas than other fibers.”

This post may contain affiliate links. To find out more information, please read my disclosure statement.

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