Boholano-style vegetable soup comes in many varieties, but a top favorite of mine contains a light, clear broth filled with malunggay (moringa), kalabasa (squash), patola (luffa), okra (gumbo), sitaw (string beans) and carrots. Whether as appetizer or main course, such vegetable soup can be satiating and helps maintain hydration, especially in the hot and humid tropics.
As for nutrition, soups loaded with vegetables and beans provide vitamins A and C, potassium, folate and fiber. Those with a clear broth contain fewer calories and less saturated fat than soups with a cream base such as coconut milk. Creamy soups are healthy as well, but they should be consumed in moderation due to the saturated fat they usually contain, which can trigger heart health risk.
Canned soups may be convenient but be wary of their high amounts of sodium and preservatives. Better opt for the fresh homemade version, and if possible, one with an all-organic ingredients so as to avoid the consumption of chemicals (fertilizer, pesticide, fungicide, preservatives, etc.).
Incidentally, I’d like to share the following “Six simple ways to smarter, healthier eating,” which I got from an email newsletter, HEALTHbeat, published by Harvard Medical School. Subscribing to this free newsletter is highly recommended.
Here are six ways you can eat healthy, delicious meals, and really enjoy what you’re eating.
1) Ditch whole milk
Not only does this reduce saturated fat in your diet, it shaves off calories.
How: Switch to 1% or nonfat milk, and nonfat versions of other dairy products like yogurt and ice cream. Can’t bear to go cold turkey? Step down more slowly to 2% milk, then 1% en route to nonfat, if possible.
2) Harness the power of nuts (and seeds)
Almonds, cashews, filberts, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, and pistachios pack plenty of beneficial nutrients, including vitamin E, folic acid, potassium, and fiber. Although many nuts are high in fat, the fat is mainly unsaturated – a healthy choice.
How: First, put nuts on the grocery list. Nuts are high in calories, so it’s best to enjoy them in place of other snacks, not in addition, and to keep serving sizes small.
3) Taste food before you salt it
Break the autopilot habit of reaching for the salt shaker.
How: For two days, don’t put any salt on your food at all. A short break can help reset your taste buds. Then, leave the salt shaker in the cabinet, so it becomes a bit of an effort to reach for it. Make a ritual out of truly tasting your food before you decide if it needs tweaking.
4) Pack lunch once a week
This makes healthy food choices readily available to you at work or on an outing. And since you are controlling portion sizes, you can make sure that you’re not supersizing your meal. Plus, it saves you money.
How: Once a week before you shop for groceries, write out a meal plan that leaves enough leftovers for one or two lunches.
5) Eat five (or more) vegetables and fruits a day
It’s a nutrient-packed way to fill your plate that is generally low in calories.
How: First, for one week, keep track of how often you eat fruits and vegetables. One serving equals one-half cup of chopped fruit or most vegetables; for raw leafy vegetables like lettuce and spinach, a serving is one cup. Once you have your baseline, try adding one fruit or vegetable serving a day.
6) Plan meals that are delightful, delicious and healthy
In an ideal world, food delights all our senses: it looks beautiful, smells heavenly, and tastes delicious, and its textures feel and even sound satisfying. Start thinking about food as something to really savor and enjoy.
How: Pencil in time to prepare and savor one or two special meals a week. Once you’ve assembled great ingredients, set a gorgeous table. Take a moment to truly take in scents, companions, and surroundings, and if you like, give thanks.
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Mixed vegetable soup featured above courtesy of Palwa Restaurant
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