The USDA’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines were released this past week. In the spirit of mixing business with pleasure, I used its Key Recommendations to see how this recipe for Chickpea & Bread Soup scores nutritionally:
- Recommendation: Use oils to replace solid fats where possible (in order to increase one’s intake of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce heart disease risk). I used a saturated, i.e. solid, fat to saute my vegetables (butter). -1 point.
- Recommendation: Increase intake of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, or fortified soy beverages. Okay, so Muenster cheese isn’t the leanest choice in the dairy aisle. -1 point
- Recommendation: Choose a variety of protein foods, which include seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds. The star of this dish, chickpeas, are full of protein, folate and fiber. +1 point
- Recommendation: Increase whole-grain intake by replacing refined grains with whole grains. Fiber-rich whole grain bread sops up the vegetable broth and creates contrasting texture to the crunchy chickpeas. +1 point
- Recommendation: Increase vegetable and fruit intake. As a legume, chickpeas are technically a vegetable. Onions add flavor. +1 point
- Recommendation: Choose foods that provide more potassium, dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamin D, which are nutrients of concern in American diets. I’m hitting these nutrients with the cheese, the bread, and the chickpeas. +1 point
So it looks like I tipped the nutritional scale in my favor, striking a balance between tasty yet wholesome. But shouldn’t I get points for buying local and ensuring the quality and treatment of ingredients? The butter is from Maplehofe Dairy, where happy, pastured cows not subjected to hormones or antibiotics live. Pastured cows have been shown to have higher levels of conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) a beneficial fatty-acid. (For more information on the locally acquired ingredients, please click on the ingredient hyperlinks, below.)
The Dietary Guidelines are all about balance, enjoying your food, but eating less of it. A healthy lifestyle is all about give and take, just make sure you don’t take too much, and too often. 🙂
Chickpea & Bread Soup
Adapted from Bitchin’ Camaro blog
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter (or olive oil)
- 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
- 2 cups chickpeas (or one 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and well rinsed), soaked overnight
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 2 cups whole grain bread, cubed into small pieces
- 2 – 3 oz. shredded cheese (I used Muenster cheese, but use your melted favorite. Or, omit all together.)
- Set a medium heavy pot over medium heat and add 1 tbsp. of butter or olive oil. Saute the onions for 10 minutes, or until they’re soft and almost brown. Remove the onions to a bowl and set aside.
- Add the rest of the olive oil to the pot, then the chickpeas. Toast the chickpeas until they’re golden on all sides, about 20 minutes. Resist the urge to stir them too often, or they won’t toast well. You should hear the chickpeas popping in the heat. Give them a good stir occasionally to make sure they’re not sticking, but don’t worry too much if they do.
- Once your chickpeas are golden and toasted, add the stock, using a wooden spoon to scrape any chickpea residue from the bottom of the pot. Add the onions back into the pot and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the bread.
- Ladle the soup into oven-safe dishes or small pots. Sprinkle each one with cheese and place them under your oven’s broiler for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and browned. Remove carefully and serve immediately.
(You may need to add more stock depending on your preference for the thickness of the soup.)