Soups Stews and Convenience Foods

  • As a main dish, choose stews and hearty soups; because they're made with nutrient-rich foods, they usually provide plenty of nutrients. Use the Nutrition Facts and the ingredient list to find out. Clear soups and stews are usually lower in calories and fat than creamy varieties or stew with gravy. For creamy soups: low-fat and fat-free versions of cream of celery soup and cream of mushroom soup, among others.
  • If you're heating a quick meal at the office, look for ready-to-eat soup or dehydrated soup. Unlike condensed soup, ready-to-eat soup doesn't need added liquid—open the can, heat, then serve. For dehydrated soup, just add hot water.
  • For quick meals, buy canned and shelf-stable microwaveable entrées: perhaps pasta with meat or cheese, or chili con carne. If you eat them regularly, look for varieties with less fat and, depending on your needs, less sodium.
  • If you're watching how much sodium you eat, read the Nutrition Facts for sodium content. Many canned and instant soups, as well as canned stews, are high in sodium. Check grocery shelves, though; you'll see many prepared with less sodium or no salt added.

For instant noodles (Oriental noodles) and entrée mixes (macaroni and cheese), use half of the seasoning packet to cut back on sodium. Depending on your overall food choices, you might toss in some chopped vegetables for more vitamins and fiber, too. To reduce fat, use less butter or margarine than the directions call for.

• To cut back on fat, look for defatted broth. Or put a canned soup or stew in the refrigerator prior to use. The fat will congeal so you can skim it off.

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