Power up with soup

Nothing beats a bowl of steaming hot soup in winter - it's the ultimate comfort food. But what makes soup extra special is that, unlike most other comfort foods, you don't have to go on a guilt-trip: soups are generally low in kilojoules and loaded with healthy nutrients.

In fact, soups are the perfect way to get your daily dose of healthy veggies which will help to boost your immune system and keep cold and flu bugs at bay. A daily dose of veggies is especially important to diabetic persons as most vegetables have a low GI (and if not low GI, definitely low GL) which helps control blood sugar levels and assists with healthy weight management.

In our April newsletter dietician Liesbet Delport stressed the importance of eating enough fruit and vegetables every day as they are high in antioxidants which can help protect you against cancer, cholesterol and other lifestyle diseases, such as being overweight.

However, in winter, we don't feel like eating raw veggies, like salads - it's just too cold. "Most people eat salad ingredients with their light meal in summer," says Delport, "but in winter it simply falls away."

An easy solution (apart from having cooked veggies with your main meal) is soup, as you can add quite a number of healthy vegetables into one single dish.

It's also a great solution for lunch at the office.

Says Delport: "Make a big pot of vegetable soup at the beginning of the week and then take a portion of soup with you to work every day – it's perfect with your sandwich at lunch." Eating soup will also increase the satiety value of the meal, which will stop you from nibbling on other unhealthy snacks during the day.

There are some great soup ideas in the Eating for Sustained Energy
cookbook series by Liesbet Delport and Gabi Steenkamp and the good news is that they're really easy to prepare - you don't have to be a gourmet chef at all! They are also far better than the ready-made soups available in shops as they can be prepared with low-fat or evaporated milk, instead of cream, and you can control the salt content.

I have chosen three starch-free vegetable soups that can be enjoyed with low-GI bread and low-fat cheese to make a balanced light meal: Winter 'salad' (a tasty vegetable soup that can be stored in the fridge and reheated in the microwave as needed), a surprisingly creamy Cauliflower soup (made with fat free milk, and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and low-fat, low-sodium back bacon) and Oven-roasted tomato and basil soup (brimming with immune-boosting Vitamin C).

Should you choose to cook a soup that also contains starch and/or protein (such as potatoes, beans and lentils) remember not to have any bread and cheese with it, as it will turn your light meal into a main meal.

For more information on the glycaemic index, visit the website of the Glycemic Index Foundation.

View recipes:

- Winter 'salad'
- Cauliflower soup
- Oven-roasted tomato and basil soup

Oven-roasted tomato and basil soup: nutritional information per serving

One serving is equivalent to 2 vegetables and 1 fat.

GI low (20)

Kilojoules 532

Carbohydrates 16g

GL 3

Protein 4g

Fat 4g

Fibre 5g


Saturated fat 0.6g

(Birgit Ottermann, Health24, Diabetes Newsletter, May 2010)

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