Healthy tips from a Registered Dietitian
Soup makes a healthful, inexpensive and convenient meal, perfect for a chilly day. And, yet, we often forget about soup. Sure, you can buy canned soup and warm it up in a flash. Maybe even serve it with a sandwich or salad. You could also make a homemade version quite easily.
In the past, canned soup selections were often limited, with an entire can usually giving you your day’s worth of sodium. But, thanks to creative and modern brands, there are a lot more from which to choose. If you are on a low sodium diet, you might actually be able to find some prepared soups that fit in your meal plan. Considering sodium is found in many of our daily foods, you should be mindful to determine how soup can fit in to a low sodium diet and whether homemade (with no salt added) would be better alternative.
For those of us not on low sodium diets, we can still be mindful of sodium intake while incorporating soup healthfully into our diets. It can be a great way to get more vegetables into your day, especially. If you are mindful about how often to choose cream-based or meat-based versions (like Italian Wedding Soup and Beef Vegetable), then you can choose to select vegetable-based or lowfat broth-based versions most frequently, which often tend to be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol. Read the label to be sure.
When you read the label, look for words like “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added”. Read the nutrition panel to see how many milligrams of sodium are in one serving. Everyone should try to limit sodium to no more than about 2000 milligrams daily. (Most Americans go way over on sodium intake.) Some of the best low sodium soups can be found at Trader Joe’s – for quite a deal, too!
Aside from trying to limit the sodium, consider also what might be missing from your diet. Do you regularly eat broccoli? Butternut squash? Lentils? Kidney beans? Black beans? These and many more vegetables can make their way into your diet through soup! You might even be able to get some fruits in there, too. Butternut squash apple soup makes a great winter-time soup that pairs well with half a tunafish sandwich! Look for recipes online or check out the version at Earthfare grocery store in Huntersville. Amy’s makes a Light in Sodium Butternut Squash version with 290mg sodium per cup (1/2 can). If you felt inclined, you could add your own roasted apples to it!
You can always go the extra step and make the soup yourself. The more non-processed the ingredients you use, the higher the chances of creating a lower sodium soup, too. If you do choose things like canned beans to go into homemade soup, try to get low sodium versions and/or rinse the beans before adding them to your recipe.
If you choose to make a simple chicken noodle soup, use lowfat, low sodium chicken broth, boneless and skinless chicken, whole grain noodles and fresh vegetables like fresh carrots, onions and celery. Some recipes can be made straight in the croq pot – put all the ingredients in before you leave in the morning for an instant meal at the end of your workday.
So, give another thought to soup. It might just warm you up and fill you up with the perfect balance of ingredients!