Winter is a time where it’s easy to put on a little extra “insulation”. It’s cold out so we are less active. We’ve been eating more with the holidays and family gatherings, which can be a tough habit to break. I mean – 1 more slice of that leftover pie won’t really hurt, will it?
But it’s much easier than you think to make smart food choices. One way is with soups and stews. Warm and filling, when made with the right ingredients it’s simple to eat something delicious that will keep you full for hours, but is also nutritionally friendly. The trick is to not be derailed with unhealthy ingredients like – unnecessary creams and starches. Now, any of these ingredients aren’t bad for you in moderation, but here are some tricks to making soups and stews a little lighter.
Broth-based soups are always a great place to start. Lower in calories than their creamy counterparts, they will still warm you up on a chilly day. Want to make sure they are still hearty? Load them up with veggies! Peas, carrots, corn, cauliflower, mushrooms snow peas, or chunks of squash are great way to make broths more filling without loading up on calories. Love pasta in your soup? Try adding grains like bulgur instead of pasta to your broth as a healthier – but still delicious alternative. Looking for a delicious broth based soup? Try my Lemon Grass Veggie Soup!
Prefer something creamier – but don’t want to destroy your diet? There are a few simple tricks you can use!
Celeriac (Also known as Celery root): Never heard of this wonder veggie? Now is the time! It contains very little starch but when roasted and pureed can take on the texture (and with the right seasoning, the taste) of mashed potatoes! It’s perfect to make soups, stews and chowders creamier, without adding a lot of calories.
Beans: While you can certainly add beans to your broth to make soups more filling, have you ever thought of blending them in? Garbanzo beans (also known as chick peas) and white beans are a great way to make a base creamier without adding empty calories. Plus, you get a bonus bump of protein and fiber in your diet. You can thin out the base by adding broths, skim or soy milk.
Squash: Recipes for squash soups often call for cream – but the truth is, they don’t need it. Pureed squash is so creamy on its own that a bit of broth is really all you need to thin it out, and keep it tasting delicious. Still love that creamy flavor? Skip the heavy cream and add skim or soy milk to give it a flavor boost instead. I skipped both – but not the flavor in my creamy Curried Butternut Squash Soup recipe!
Since I’m a big skier, there is nothing I love more in the winter than having a big a bowl of chowder at the lodge after a day of skiing (and a chocolate chip cookie!). Or at least it was until I realized I was gaining weight during the ski season. So I started making this squash based “chowder” to fill my two obsessions – anything squash based, and a warm chowda!
Creamy Kabocha Chowder
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1/4 cup fresh Sage leaves
- 1 clove Garlic
- 1 large Onion
- 1/4 pound raw Mushrooms
- 1 teaspoon Coconut Oil
- 1 cup Soy Milk
- 1 1/2 cups low-sodium Vegetable Broth
- 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Pepper
- 2 cups cubed Kabocha Squash (about 420 grams)
- 1 can White Beans, drained and rinsed
In a large pot, heal olive oil until warm. Chop onions, and add them to the oil, and saute until soft on medium high heat.
As onions are sauteing, finely chop the garlic and add it to the pot. Reduce heat to medium, add chopped sage leaves and stir. Cook for 3-5 minutes until ingredient are softened and fragrant.
Add kabocha squash and soy milk, and stir ingredients together. Cook until warm.
Using an immersion blender mix all ingredients together until creamy and smooth. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, carefully transfer the ingredients to a blender, and puree them until smooth. Be extra careful when blending hot ingredients as they can expand in the blender, and the splatters can burn. Return pureed ingredients to pot once blended).
Finally add vegetable broth to soup, stirring until desired thickness is reached. While soup continues to cook, heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or oil of choice) in a saute pan until warm. Add mushrooms and cook for 5-7 minutes until softened. Remove them from pan (try not to take the extra oil if possible) and transfer them to soup. Serve warm.
Serves: 4 | Serving Size: about 1 cup
Calories: 248; Total Fat: 7g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Monounsaturated Fat: 3g; Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 685mg; Total Carbohydrate: 38g; Dietary Fiber: 10g; Sugars: 10g; Protein: 12g
Nutrition Bonus: Potassium: 943mg; Vitamin A: 31%; Vitamin C: 7%; Calcium: 29%; Iron: 27%