Spoon Your Way to a Healthy Winter
We all know that chicken soup is good for soul, and for generations, it has been used to soothe cold symptoms and boost the spirits of those who are under the weather. But chicken soup isn’t the only soup with these magical powers. Any bowl of steaming, tasty goodness can warm the heart – and fuel the body – when the temperatures drop. Here are seven tasty ways to power-up your soup game this winter.
Get Comfortable with Chicken Soup
Chicken soup is literally comfort food. Chicken is high in tryptophan, an essential amino acid which helps the body to make serotonin, which regulates mood, and melatonin, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle. So you’re not imagining things when that steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup gives you feelings of happiness and contentment. But, it’s also good for your health! Chicken is a great source of protein to help your body build and repair muscle, bone, skin and blood cells. Chicken broth contains many vitamins and minerals and is particularly high in iron, noodles provide carbs for energy when you’re feeling sluggish, and vegetables such as celery, carrot and onion are high in vitamins C and K, which help to fortify the immune system.
It’s Better with Bone Broth
Making homemade soups with made-from-scratch bone broth is a great way to increase the nutrient content off all your favorite recipes. Simmering cow, chicken and even fish bones in water with a little vinegar helps release the calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and other vitamins and minerals, as well as collagen, contained in the bones and cartilage into a potent super-broth that is anti-inflammatory and beneficial for the joints and digestive system. To make homemade bone broth, try this recipe:
- 1 gallon of water
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2–4 pounds of animal bones
- Salt and pepper, to taste, along with any other herbs and spices you like, such as garlic, parsley, thyme or sage
- Place all ingredients in a large pot or slow cooker.
- Bring to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer and cook for 12–24 hours. The longer it cooks, the better it will taste and more nutritious it will be.
- Allow the broth to cool. Strain it into a large container and discard the solids.
Use Soups for Hydration
According to the Centers for Disease Control, adult men should drink 125 ounces of fluid per day and adult women should drink 91 ounces per day, but very few Americans hit those totals. However, in wintertime, when you’re craving something warm and cozy, soup can also help with hydration. If you’re buying canned or boxed soups, go for broth-based, lower sodium varieties rather than cream-based options. They’re more hydrating and also kinder to your waistline!
Load Up on Vegetables
Not only are vegetables very hydrating, they’re also good for you! Vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber, and slipping them into soups is a good way to get kids to eat them. During the winter, seasonal vegetables like kale, collard greens, leeks, parsnips, turnips, winter squash, mushrooms and broccoli rabe make great additions to soups and stews.
Add Herbs and Spices
Don’t forget to add some ultra-healthy herbs and spices to your homemade soups. Think garlic, ginger, lemongrass, turmeric, cayenne pepper, parsley, sage, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, basil and oregano.
Include Whole Grains
Adding whole grains to homemade soups is a great way to ensure you’re getting the fiber, protein, B vitamins, antioxidants and minerals – like zinc, iron, copper and magnesium – that they provide, which offer a multitude of health benefits; diets rich in whole grains may reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer, and may help support a healthy body weight. Whole grains like barley, bulgar and brown or wild rice are traditional additions to soup recipes, but try experimenting with other ultra-healthy grains that add interesting texture to your soups, like wheat berries, quinoa, amaranth, millet and farro.
Pump Up the Protein
Chicken is the star of chicken noodle soup, but there are plenty of other proteins that can be featured front-and-center in other soup varieties to pump up the nutrition profile and make the meal a more satisfying one. Beef, pork, turkey, all varieties of sliced and ground sausage, shrimp, clams, lobster and firm white fish can all be used in all manner of soup, stew, chili and chowder recipes. For vegetarian protein options, try black, kidney, white and navy beans, green or yellow peas, chick peas and lentils.