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?

 

 

Healthy Pastry – How to Make a Delicious Meat Pie Scroll

Those of you in the Southern Hemisphere will have noticed that the air is getting a little crisper these days. Colder air means winter sports and warmer food doesn’t it? It does in my foodie world. Enter healthy pastry.

In Australia, winter sports like football, soccer and netball are often associated with spectator fare like meat pies, sausage rolls, hots dogs and hot chips. The thing is, these guys are not exactly bursting with goodness and should really only be a treat food, not every weekend afternoon.

So what is the alternative? The good people over at Legendairy have given me some inspiration for a quick, super easy recipe for healthy pastry that can be used for scrolls, pies or anything that you would like to wrap some pastry around!

Easy Healthy Pastry

1 cup self-raising flour
2/3 cup natural yoghurt

Combine yoghurt and flour and mix together until combined. Knead into a ball and rest for 5-10 minutes.

On a floured bench or board, roll out the pastry in a rectangular shape 30 x 20cm.

Quick Meat Pie Filling:

1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
250g lean beef mince
1 small onion, diced
1 tablespoon BBQ sauce
1 tsp beef stock powder
2 tsp gravy powder
1 tablespoon water

Heat the oil in a pan and then add garlic, onion, mince, sauce and stock powder. Stir until well-browned and then add combined water and gravy powder. Stir until thickened.

Putting it all together

Spread rolled out healthy pastry with the meat pie filling or your choice of pasta sauce and grated cheese or leftover bolognaise sauce, leaving 2 cm around the edge to avoid oozing (unless of course, you want it to ooze!). Roll from the longest edge, continually until the dough forms a sausage shape and use a little milk to seal the edge.

Cut into 2 cm wide pieces and place face up on a lined baking tray. Sprinkle with grated cheese if desired and bake in a moderate oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

You now have a meal made with healthy pastry that is a good source of calcium, is much lower in fat and salt but high on taste. Enjoy!

How to Break the Snooze Habit

Snooze Button This morning I woke up to the sound of raindrops not so gently tapping on my bedroom window, just moments before my alarm started blaring in my ear. That alarm is the obvious sign that I need to get up and at ‘em and meet my buddies for a run. But you know what, the rain, cold and pitch black outdoors beat me today and instead I turned the alarm off and snuggled back into my doona. This doesn’t happen very often but when it does, it is inevitable that when I do eventually wake up and get stuck into my day, I beat myself up about not doing my daily exercise. I am not a very nice person to be around if I don’t get my body into some fitness action to start the day. And the thing is, if I miss my morning workout, with three young children and a business to run, the opportunity to get out and exercise doesn’t present itself again that day.

I know lots of people experience the same problem with the good old snooze button. Your arm gets a good workout but not much else. The question is, how can we ditch the dithering, avoid the snooze button and get away from our happy place under the blankets?

  • Put your alarm out of arms reach. Whether it is an alarm clock on your bedside table or on your phone, put it far enough away that you have to physically get out of bed to reach it. It’s way too easy to get your arm into snooze action if your alarm is close and handy. Placing it by the bedroom door is probably the best place so that you can just keep moving on out and get your gear on.
  • If you are a serial alarm avoider, have you heard about the alarm clock that runs away and hides to get you out of bed? You can choose from either the Clocky or Tocky, both runaway alarm clocks that are super durable and can jump from a 3 feet high nightstand. It just keeps up the alarm until you get yourself out of bed to find it – destined to become your best friend or worst enemy.
  • Set your alarm for the ACTUAL time you need to get out of bed not the time that allows you to hit the snooze button 50 times. This is one of my own downfalls because my alarm repeats every seven minutes and I often factor in a couple of these intervals before I get up. The reality is, the quality of this interval sleeping is never good and it much preferable to just get up already!
  • Have your exercise clothes and equipment at the ready the night before. It can be rather difficult to find ones exercise gear when still in the slumber zone (especially if its still dark), so don’t place that hurdle in front of yourself.
  • If you need to have small snack or drink before your workout, prepare it the night before, eliminating any need for using sharp instruments when your body is not yet functioning – because lets face it, that cannot end well.