Hey everyone! I hope you are all enjoying the weekend! Since my last post (building a solid salad) seems to be receiving wonderful feedback, I wanted to share one of the other articles I wrote for the corporate holiday challenge, as well. The more healthy eating inspiration out there, the better, right? In case you aren't a big salad person, perhaps soup is more your speed! (I know my #fruitsandveggiesmonday folks are with me on this one!) 😉
I love making a big pot of hearty vegetable soup this time of year. There’s just something satisfying about sitting down to a bowl of steaming goodness that makes my heart and belly happy. Though I think a healthy diet consists of all kinds of different dishes, soup is a great one to feature into your regular rotation. Even if you don’t cook much, most anyone should be able to put together a simple, vegetable-packed soup on occasion. Ideally homemade is best because many store-bought or restaurant-made options have lots of sodium or hidden preservatives.
Here are some of the reasons why I think soup is such a great option in your healthy meal plan arsenal:
- You can pack a lot of vegetables into one dish which helps make sure you are getting in plenty of nutrients each day.
- If you choose high nutrient ingredients, you can often get a very light dish that still fills you up and leaves you satisfied.
- Having a small bowl of light soup before your main meal can help make sure you don’t overeat on higher calorie rich foods. I often eat a bowl before going to a holiday party if I know there won’t be a lot of healthy options available.
- Making a big batch for the week makes your meal prep so much easier (especially if you have a slow cooker). The good thing about soup is it tends to get even better throughout the week, so leftovers are sometimes even better than the first bowl!
- Freezing is also a great option if you make a large pot. Have a few bowls one week, then freeze a few portions to pull out later when you are in a pinch and need a healthy meal.
So soup is great, what are some of the best ingredients to add? While there are so many different variations that you can quite possibly never make the same soup twice, here are some of my favorite things to add in to my soups to make sure they are loaded with nutrition and flavor (you may recognize most of these from my last article):
- Herbs & Spices—go cultural for inspiration like curries, minestrone, or miso
- Greens—chop up just about any type to add in at the end of the cooking time
- Flavorful Veggies—onions, garlic, fennel, celery all provide good flavor base
- Colorful Veggies—tomatoes, beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, red cabbage, peppers
- Lean Protein—beans, lentils, tempeh, tofu
- Acid—a squeeze of lemon or a few tablespoons of vinegar brighten up any soup
- Starch--if you want to fill out your soup for a heartier meal, add in potatoes, quinoa, barley or other whole grains to stick to your ribs with wholesome complex carbohydrates.
Like I said above, make sure to watch the salt content of your soups. Opt for homemade broth or lower sodium versions. You can also do half broth, half water for a recipe. A splash of acid like citrus or vinegar at the end of cooking can definitely help bump up flavor without having to use extra salt. A little fat in a meal can be a good thing to help absorb the fat-soluble vitamins, but be careful not to overdo it or your soup will turn into a calorie-bomb. Try out using some different plant-based options like coconut milk for curries, blended up white beans for a creamier soup, or top a bowl of black bean soup with avocado or homemade guacamole.
I can only hope you all are starting out the year with plenty of local, healthy ingredients to keep yourselves full of energy to take on everything you want to accomplish! I am truly so excited to continue sharing my own yummy creations and of course seeing what all of you create to put on your own tables. Thanks for stopping by and reading!