It’s soup season!! I love when it’s getting cooler because I love love LOVE soups, stews and chili. However, it’s super challenging to eat soup on a diet. Why?
First, it’s hard to log. The more ingredients you have in a recipe, the harder it is to manage calories. It’s easy to weigh 4 ounces of chicken and measure a cup of rice, but logging 20 ingredients is a challenge.
Second, if you are like me, you keep on adding a dash of this and a cup of that until you get it tasting like you want it. By the end of your soup creation, you have no idea how many servings it will make even if you did log every ingredient into your calorie tracker.
Finally, most soups are loaded with calories because they are loaded with high-calorie ingredients like cream, beans, rice and potatoes.
Have no fear, your healthy soup master is here! Here are 10 tips to help you maintain your waistline during soup season.
10 Diet Tips for Soup Lovers
1, Start with broth. If you want to cut excess calories, stick with organic healthy bone or chicken broth. Whether you make your own or buy it for the store (like me!), broth based soups are lower calorie soups.
2. Choose lean meats like chicken or turkey instead of fatty pork or red meat. I love to add ground chicken to my soups. They always absorb flavor so well and I like the texture.. Plus, it gives the soup a boost in protein.
3. Trade high-cal carbs for low-carb options. Skip or skimp on high calorie carbs like beans, potatoes, pasta or rice. I love beefing my soups up with hearty veggies like cauliflower rice, cabbage, spinach, collard greens and even broccoli.
4. Rely on flavorful herbs, vegetables and juices instead of fat and seasoning packs. For instance, fresh garlic, tomatoes, onion, sweet pepper, cilantro, cumin, lemon juice, lime juice, apple cidar vinegar, salt and pepper are all amazing ingredients for flavor without MSG and unnatural additives.
5. Follow recipes you love with some minor changes. Just because you are on a diet, doesn’t mean you have to go without your favorite hot treat. You can follow yummy recipes and make healthy ingredient swaps to fit your caloric budget! For instance, who says you have to make chili with ground beef and beans? I just made one the other day with ground chicken and vegetables. I only used one can of black beans and thickened it with cauliflower rice. I still used all the chili flavors without all the chili calories and it was a hit!
6. Think outside the pot. Add vegetables you usually don’t put in soups like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, collard greens, squash, brussel sprouts, etc. They all absorb flavor easily and can help your low-cal soup be more filling.
7. Skip the cream. Many soups call for creams, cheeses and other high-calorie items to give it that rich taste. Instead, use processed veggies to add thickness. The same way you can do mashed cauliflower, you can make a hearty creamy soup with blended cauliflower. Greek Yogurt can also make it creamier without the extra fat and it increases protein.
8. Sweeten the pot a little. We’ve all heard the saying “I’ll sweeten the pot”. We all know what that means, but let me tell you how I sweeten the pot in the kitchen. I add stevia. Adding a natural sweetener can bring even more flavor out. Whether you are trying my brussel sprout chowder or a healthy brunswick stew, a little bit of sweet goes a long way.
9. Log it and measure it. It’s tempting to just throw in the towel when you are making a complicated dish, but it’s not as difficult as it may seem. SImply add every ingredient in your LoseIt! app as you go. Once you are completely done tweaking your recipe, grab a measuring cup and scoop out one cup at a time, to determine how many cups (servings) your soup made. Lastly, adjust your servings in your recipe to find out how many calories is in each cup. My last soup measured 20 cups, which was only 75 calories. Now I can eat it and log it with confidence.
10 Be patient. Good soups take time. The longer the concoction simmers, the more flavor comes out. If you are short on time, throw the main ingredients in a crock pot and finish it when you get home. Or cook your soup for the next day. Soups are like women, they get better with time. 🙂
Happy healthy cooking!