With holiday indulgences right around the corner, now is the perfect time to begin integrating meals into your weekly routine that pack a nutrition punch while not tipping your scale.
So, let me introduce you to souping.
Although souping started off as the newest detox craze, there is more than a kernel of truth in the hype. The original souping plan might be better described as veggie-heavy smoothie bowls. Purported to be better than juicing because you get more fiber and thus stay full for longer, a three-day souping cleanse was said to result in weight loss, glowing healthy skin, and shiny hair. Many of the reviews I read debunked those promises, but with a little twist and some realistic expectations, we can get a timely health boost from souping. Adding vegetable-based warm soups to your healthy diet can boost your nutrient intake, increase your fiber, and help balance your calories. The benefits of souping can be especially helpful when holiday treats tempt us at every turn.
Where to start
Begin with a warm vegetable-based soup. You can use a smooth and creamy base like our Creamy Curried Cauliflower Soup, Beet Soup, or Creamy Pumpkin Soup. Or you can use a lighter, broth-based vegetable soup such as our Simple Miso Soup, Celery Soup, or Nourishing Bone Broth.
Add a protein boost
Choose an easy-to-digest protein, such as cooked egg, chicken, or fish, or raw nuts or seeds. Protein not only nourishes your muscles, it also supports healthy mood. And as the most satiating nutrient, it will help you resist between-meal snacks.
Include nourishing fat
Healthy fats not only add flavor, they also help you stay full for longer and feed your brain. Try adding avocado, olives, coconut milk, or even a drizzle of cilantro pesto or extra virgin olive oil to garnish your soup. Both the Creamy Curried Cauliflower soup and the Creamy Pumpkin Soup recipes already include healthy fats, so there is one less add-in needed when using these soup bases.
Supercharge the veggies
The more veggies, the better! Add herbs such as parsley, cilantro, dill or basil to kick up the flavor. Add leafy greens, mushrooms, summer squash, or broccoli for a supercharged veggie boost. And don’t forget to include some higher carbohydrate veggies such as sweet potato, yams, or squash to keep your energy levels stable throughout the day.
What to avoid
Guidelines about what not to add to your soup include foods that are more difficult to digest, like grains and dairy. And don’t include any foods that you are allergic or sensitive to or that you know do not work for your body. I also suggest making the soup base yourself, because many packaged soups are very high in sodium.
To get the most from your soup, make sure there is something to chew. Chewing can help you slow down your rate of eating and help you taste and enjoy your food. Tasting and chewing are vital for helping satisfy your hunger. The act of chewing also helps start the process of digestion, helping you get the full nutrition benefit available in your soup.
Replacing 3 meals a week (or up to one per day) with a veggie-packed soup can help boost your nutrition while balancing your meals. Try one of these combinations, or mix your favorites for a uniquely personal souping experience.
- Detox focus: Creamy curried cauliflower + pumpkin seeds + roasted cabbage
- The cauliflower and cabbage in this combo contain nutrients that help rev up our innate detox capacity!
- Fitness pal: Beet soup + grilled chicken thigh + beet greens sautéed in olive oil and garlic
- Beets support healthy blood flow, which can be especially helpful when physically active. And the greens add a phytonutrient boost to support recovery.
- Unique breakfast: Miso soup + poached egg + sesame oil drizzle + baby spinach + cubed cooked sweet potatoes
- You may not have considered soup for breakfast, but this simple, light and delicious soup is a balanced way to start off your day on the right foot.
In preparation for this blog, I enjoyed a week-long souping experiment, replacing 4 lunches with the soups above. My coworkers were envious of the delicious smells coming from my lunch box, and I found that I was less likely to eat a mid-afternoon snack, because the soups were surprisingly filling! Souping over this holiday season is a great way to stay on track with health goals, even when tempted by holiday treats, so bottoms up!
Meet the Blogger
Lani Jacobs-Banner has her bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She has been working for Natural Grocers for over a decade, helping individuals and families find the foods that nourish them and help them work toward their health goals. Lani is passionate about providing her family with the highest quality, and most delicious, gluten-free meals that her husband and two boys will enjoy. Through sharing her love of cooking and nutrition, she hopes to inspire you to use food to support your health!