July 28, 2014

Creative Ways to Boost the Nutritional Value of a Can of Soup

Soup and RollDuring the winter months,cold foods like salad and chilled fruit just don’t have the same appeal as they do during warmer times of the year. Instead, you may find yourself reaching for warmer dishes that not only taste great, but increase your body temperature with every bite or slurp.
Although its tempting to think heat first, nutrients later, I highly encourage you to continue to put the nutritional quality of your dishes, hot or cold, under top priority status. This may cause you to rethink a few of your favorite traditional comfort foods and soups; however, there are many ways to enhance or improve the nutritional value of these types of dishes so you still feel satisfied and warm.
Let’s take soup as an example. Soup is probably one of my favorite wintertime dishes; yet, a can or bowl of soup can get pretty blah quickly if you only look at it as “just” soup. Instead, think of soup as a base. You can use it in a lot of various ways so that you not only increase the nutritional value of it, but have a creative list of  soup-based meals that can be incorporated throughout the entire winter season.
Creative Ways to Boost the Nutritional Value of a Can of Soup
Add fresh or frozen vegetables. This will not only increase the fiber and antioxidant power of your favorite soup, but also enhance the texture.
Pour your favorite soup over a bed of brown rice. Brown rice is a decent source of dietary fiber and can help make your soup more filling. It’s a great way to take your soup from a lunchtime treat or a dinnertime side to a main course delight.
Get Spicy! Herbs and spices can kick up the flavor of any canned soup. From ginger to basil, you can get very creative with your seasonings and really change the flavor of your dish in seconds. Plus, many herbs and spices are loaded with nutritional benefits. Its a win win!
Add Beans or Potatoes. Instead of starting out with a cream-based soup, why not puree your own beans or potatoes to add to a broth-based soup? This can help add flavor and variety without added fat or sodium – two things cream-based canned soups are notorious for.
Think Dairy. For an extra calcium boost, consider adding skim milk, soy milk, evaporated milk, or even low-fat cheeses.
Consider Protein. Protein is an important nutrient that can sometimes be lacking in soup dishes. Consider adding whole beans, low-fat meats, or soy to your bowl for a protein boost that will have you feeling more satisfied throughout the day.
Reuse Your Leftovers. Soups are a great way to use up some of those leftovers cluttering your fridge. If you find any of the above ingredients left over after a meal, add ‘em to your soup!  Its a great way to come up with new and inspiring recipes while keeping things fresh, new, and waste-free.
If you are curious about how to enhance some of your other favorite comfort foods, you may find the following article a great resource:
Or if you are simply looking for ways to identify the best canned soup for you and your family, check out this article I wrote for Fitness Magazine:
Happy ‘Soup’ing!
The Girl Behind the Plate,
~Kati
About Kati Mora, MS, RD

Kati is a registered dietitian with a background in general nutrition and weight management. As the co-owner of Around the Plate, Kati is excited to bring you relevant nutrition information that get's you excited about living healthy and eating happy. Kati graduated with her BS in Dietetics from Central Michigan University in 2006 and then obtained her Master's in Dietetics from Central in 2010. Kati is the proud mama of two little plates, Eli and Ben, who keep her busy and smiling... most of the time. You may also recognize Kati from her work as the Kellogg's FiberPlus(R) Wellness Advocate and as a contributing author for Diets In Review.

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