Soup – a simple way to warm up this winter

In my mind, chilly days signal the start of soup season. It’s time to get the soup pot out and fill it to the brim with winter vegetables, tasty stock and other goodies that make soup so delicious and warming. Once you have made this magical soup – it is a super easy and quick lunch, dinner and sometimes a snack too.

As additional benefit – the beauty of soup is that it can be a truly effective way of getting a ton of vitamins, minerals, fluid and fibre into your daily intake.

The thing is, although soup is an easy meal to prepare, the fact is that time does not always allow us to make a batch every week.  Enter the ready to eat options.

Have you been down the soup aisle of the supermarket lately??  It has most certainly grown over the past few years.  No longer is this section stacked with can after can of reheat and eat.  The packaging is now rather glossy and sleek and although packets and cans of soups still adorn the shelves, the newest kid on the block is the soup pouch.

During my most recent supermarket tour (ask me for more information on these if you are interested in the next one), I was actually really surprised at the sheer volume of variety.  Given all this choice, it seemed incumbent upon me to review some of these soups because lets face it – ‘ready to go’ can be vital on some days, especially if no-one wants to get hurt in the process.

All of the soups I tested are available on the shelf and do not require refrigeration – hence the perfect meal to store in the pantry or desk drawer at work. Heating time was on average 2.5 minutes, so they are definitely classed as fast food – in a good kind of way.

Nutrition 

When looking at food products in general, it is important to check the fat, sugar, salt and fibre content of the food.  Try and choose food that includes the following:

Fat – less than 8g per 100g serve

Sugar – less than 10g per 100g serve

Sodium (salt) – less than 400mg per 100g serve

Fibre more than – 5g per 100g serve

As you can see from the summary below, the four varieties that I tasted all fit the criteria for fat, sugar and salt but all are lowish in fibre.  The soup that you prepare at home is likely to be much higher in fibre due to the quantity of vegetables that you are most likely to add but you could bump up the fibre of these sou

p pouches by adding a slice of grainy toast or bread.

La Zuppa is particularly low in calories for a meal – it is more of a clear soup, so in this case adding some bread would round things out a little.

Taste

My favourite was the Split Pea, Carrot and Kale soup by the Australian Organic Co. – it was super tasty and filling and the texture was pleasant. I thought the Heinz soup had an overwhelmingly tomato flavour, although the La Zuppa was very tasty and did actually contain chicken. The Coconut and Pumpkin soup by Hart and Soul had a lovely flavour but sligh

tly bizarre long stringy pieces of coconut and (and perhaps onion) throughout the soup.

Cost

Of course, the one I enjoyed the most was the most expensive!  A bit like clothes really.

I have noticed that many of these soups are discounted on a regular basis across most supermarkets and are often available at around the $2 – $2.50 mark per pouch. This means that packaged soup in pouches can be a super cheap meal, especially in comparison to buying lunch.

And what about you – have you tried some of these or is there a packaged soup that you enjoy and would like me to take a look at?

 

 

How to make Pumpkin Damper

Pumpkin Earlier this week over at Kale and Co., I wrote about the ‘it’ vegetable that we should all be eating – super versatile, orange in colour and so easily paired with both sweet and savoury ingredients. The humble pumpkin is one of my favourites and this scrumptious vegetable has certainly been making itself known over the past few weeks in the lead up to Halloween. You can read more about my friend the pumpkin over at Kale and Co., who do delicious things with the orange one such as – pumpkin almond ‘burgers’ with red rice and herbs or roasted pumpkin with cinnamon and paprika – both of which are a taste sensation. One of my go to recipes featuring pumpkin has been with me for years – moved across the country on a little piece of paper and yet is still firmly glued into my recipe collection. It’s too good and too easy not to share – full of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and fibre, pumpkin damper is a great friend to soup or a side to salad. The kids can help too and love kneading that dough!  

Pumpkin Damper 1-tablespoon poly or monounsaturated margarine 2 teaspoons sugar 1 egg, beaten 3/4 cup reduced fat cheese, grated 2 tablespoons chopped chives 1 ½ cups cooked, mashed pumpkin 1½ cups of self-raising flour

Mix margarine and sugar together and add beaten egg. Add cheese, chives and pumpkin. Add flour until dough is formed and knead into a round shape. Cook in a moderate oven (160 degrees fan forced or 180 degrees regular) for approximately 40 minutes or until cooked.

Get Packed – how to organise your healthy lunch

Regardless of how old you are, it only takes a moment to remember what it was like to go through the routine of getting ready for school. A big part of that process was packing your lunchbox because if you accidently forgot that (which I did on occasion) then your day was definitely below par. As a kid it was pretty tough to maintain those energy levels on little or no food and it’s really no different as an adult. Quite often when I am educating workplaces and their teams on how to choose healthy food and give them tips on managing their energy levels, organisation and thinking ahead are some of the key components. For this to happen like a well-oiled machine, there are a couple of logistical steps to take the night before.

  • Have one or several containers that you can use to store your lunch and snacks. You will also need a bag that is big enough to carry your food to work. It doesn’t need to be huge.
  • When you are choosing a meal to cook for dinner, double the recipe and instantly you have lunch for the next day plus some extra to store in the freezer for later. Everyone loves leftovers!
  • When you are preparing your salad or vegetables for your evening meal, have a container at the ready and just make an extra serve for the next day.
  • Pack your workbag before you go to bed leaving minimal preparation for the morning when you are rushing around getting ready and dramatically reduce your stress levels. The same thing you used to do for school right?

Simple Lunch Ideas to Bring to Work

  1. The Simple Sandwich – No-one likes a soggy sandwich! To avoid an unappetising lunch, simply store the sandwich ingredients in a separate container to the bread and assemble when you are ready.Use a mixture of breads such as sliced, rolls or wraps and choose wholegrain, wholemeal or chia seed enriched for a boost of fibre. No need to spread with butter or margarine. Tasty healthy fillings include: lean ham, sliced tomato and reduced fat cheese, smoked salmon and low fat cream cheese, sliced chicken with salad leaves and a light spread of low fat mayonnaise, grated reduced fat cheese topped with baby spinach leaves, sliced turkey breast topped with avocado, tuna mixed with low fat mayonnaise, finely diced red onion and flat leaf parsley.
  1. If a sandwich doesn’t appeal, try a big colourful salad with leaves, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, crunchy sprouts and sliced red capsicum topped with an egg or a small tin of tuna or tin of 4 bean mix and a slice of grainy bread. Make the salad the night before and add the protein and bread at lunchtime.
  2. Anything left? – If you loved your dinner the night before there is nothing better than enjoying it again the next day. Just make sure that you have some protein in the form of meat, chicken or fish, some carbohydrate like rice or pasta and some vegetables or salad. Cooking an extra portion the night before is an easy and cost effective way of ensuring your lunch is organised.
  3. Something hot – Enjoy soup or a hot lunch that can be quickly whipped up in the office kitchen. Why not try:
  • Home-made or prepared soups (without added cream or salt) plus a wholegrain roll
  • A small tin of baked beans (or any other tinned legume) or small tin of tuna combined with a single serve pouch of brown rice or noodles (90 seconds in the microwave) and your favourite frozen vegetable.
  • A couple of slices of wholegrain toast topped with a handful of baby spinach leaves and a small tin of baked beans

If you start to think about getting ready for your workday just like a school day way back when, your food and energy levels will be on track for the day and you save money and precious time.

This blog was first published for Healthier Workplace WA