In the fall, we crave warm, hearty foods like cheesy casseroles and hearty soups. Often, though, these “comfort foods” are high in fat, sodium, and calories.
The next time you make your favorite “comfort foods,” try these tips to make them healthier and even more enjoyable:
Add extra vegetables of all types—dark green; red and orange; beans, peas, and lentils; starchy; and other vegetables—without added sauces, fats, or salt. Double the vegetables in a soup or casserole recipe to add extra vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Switch up your grains, making at least half of your grains whole grain. Like rice? Try replacing white rice with brown rice in your recipe. This month’s recipe uses brown rice.
Choose reduced-fat dairy foods, including fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese, in casseroles and cream soups. Reduced-fat cheeses, for example, have less fat but just as much favor and melt just like full-fat cheese.
Use lean protein foods, including lean meats, poultry, and eggs; seafood; beans, peas, and lentils; and nuts, seeds, and soy products. Cooking on a budget? Canned meats are just as nutritious, cheaper, and easier to use in casseroles.
To keep leftover soup safe, cool it quickly before putting it in the refrigerator. Place the soup pot in an “ice bath”—a sink filled with ice. Or stir ice cubes into the broth.
Never put a pot of soup directly into the refrigerator. Instead, pour the cooled soup into shallow containers, no more than two inches deep. Shallow containers ensure that foods will chill to 41˚F or below in less than four hours. This will prevent bacterial growth. Store soup in the refrigerator for no more than 3–4 days before eating it or throwing it out. Be sure to reheat cold soup to 165˚F or higher.
To learn how to freeze your homemade soup to make it go farther, visit AnswerLine blog, blogs.extension.iastate.edu/answerline/2016/10/24/ successfully-freezing-homemade-soup/.
People who eat more soup usually have a healthier diet. An Iowa State University study found that soup-eaters consume less fat and more fber and vitamins than nonsoup-eaters. This is probably because most soups contain a variety of vegetables.
Soup is flling. Because most soups are high in water and fber, they help you feel fuller longer. For this reason, soup helps people maintain a healthy weight. To avoid excess calories, enjoy broth- or tomato-based soups, not soups with cream, cheese, or butter.
Soup is easy. It can be as simple as opening a can and turning on the microwave. Even canned soup can be a healthy meal, if it’s low sodium. You can pep up the favor of low-sodium canned soup with onion or garlic powder, oregano, basil, turmeric, or a dash of hot sauce. You can also add your favorite frozen vegetables.
For more reflections on soup and the joys of healthy foods, visit Spend Smart. Eat Smart., blogs.extension.iastate.edu/spendsmart/tag/soup/.
• 1 tablespoon oil (canola or vegetable)
• 4 cups vegetables (like onions, carrots, and zucchini) (chopped or sliced)
• 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes with green chilies
• 1 can (14.5 ounces) low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
• 2 cups water
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning or dried basil
• 2 cups small whole wheat pasta (shell or macaroni)
• 6 cups fresh spinach leaves (about 1/2 pound)
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add onions and carrots. Cook until they are softened. Stir often. This should take about 3 minutes.
2. Stir in zucchini and canned tomatoes. Cook 3–4 minutes.
3. Stir in the broth, water, salt, and Italian seasoning or dried basil. Bring to a boil.
4. Stir in the pasta and spinach. Return to a boil.
5. Cook until the pasta is tender using the time on the package for a guide.
Nutrition information per serving: 130 calories, 16g total fat, 6g saturated fat, 1g trans fat, 100mg cholesterol, 210mg sodium, 21g total carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 2g sugar, 35g protein Recipe courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. For more information, recipes, and videos, visit the Spend Smart. Eat Smart site.
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup sliced fresh white mushrooms (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
3 14-ounce cans low-sodium chicken broth
1 10.75-ounce can reduced-sodium cream of chicken soup
1 cup uncooked instant
2 cups chopped broccoli
2 cups chopped cooked
1/2 teaspoon freshly
Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat.
Add onions, mushrooms, and minced garlic (if using); cook, stirring often, until onion is tender, about 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes, broth, soup, and rice. Cover and cook until rice is nearly tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
Stir in the broccoli and turkey; return to boil.
Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until broccoli is tender and turkey is heated through, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat; stir in pepper.
Nutrition information per serving: 310 calories, 7g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 40mg cholesterol, 510mg sodium, 40g total carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 5g sugar, 23g protein