You Want Me to Add What to the Soup?
September 1, 2013

You Want Me To Add What To The Soup?

Are you looking to make your meals healthier? Well, the Huffington Post recently published an article that is just for you…and me. In an effort to help aspiring cooks, bakers, and chefs, the article discusses eight ingredients that any pantry should have in order to ensure healthy meals as well as elevate the flavors of the dishes. As someone who is interested in healthy eating, I feel that it is important to share this information with readers.

So, what are these foods? Well, the list suggests cannellini beans, chia seeds, kippers, extra-virgin olive oil, coffee, teff, almonds, and kelp. Let’s look at the benefits of each of these.

The Cannellini Bean

As the Harvard Health Publications website explains, the cannellini bean is actually a legume. “Legumes are a terrific food. They are an excellent source of protein. They are low in fat. They are nutrient dense, meaning they deliver plenty of vitamins, minerals, and other healthful nutrients relative to calories. They provide plenty of soluble and insoluble fiber.”

Plus, the cannellini beans are versatile. They pair well with foods for every meal because they have such a mild flavor. This means they hide easily in foods from stews to pastas and even in baked goods. And they are creamy enough to make healthy and tasty dips

Chia Seeds

Right off the bat, the chia seeds are incredibly nutritious. As redOrbit reported, they offer more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon, more calcium than milk, more fiber than all-bran cereal, and more antioxidants than blueberries. They are also gluten-free and make great thickening agents.


We all need protein and omega-3 fatty acids for good health, and we know that fish is a great source for both, but we worry about the mercury in tuna and salmon. Well, have no fear because a great alternative is kippers, which are high in protein and omega 3-fatty acids, low in mercury, and mild in taste. What a perfect addition to any meal.

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

For years now, the health community has touted the benefits of extra-virgin olive oil. It has monounsaturated fats, which regulate insulin and lower cholesterol. Plus, it is rich in polyphenols, which have a protective effect against cancer and inflammation. And it substitutes pretty well.

The only thing to be concerned about is whether or not you have real olive oil. Some key points to check according to WebMd: 1) does it taste like oil or olives? 2) does it bear the support of the North American Olive Oil Association? 2) does it have further labeling like fino, light, or pure?


Coffee is high in antioxidants, helps diabetics, shows a connection to heart health, and might just help fight Alzheimer’s disease. It is a delicious morning beverage, but did you know it is also great to cook and bake with? Add it to brownies for a more savory, rich flavor or put a dash in stew to really make flavors pop. It is good in sauces and even burgers. So, experiment a bit more with coffee in your cooking and baking.


Much like quinoa, teff is a small seed that packs a big punch. In fact, it has more calcium than any other whole grain or seed as the Huff Post article says. “Stir it into soups to thicken and up the fiber profile, grind it into a flour that can be used as a gluten-free substitute for baked goods or serve it in place of rice, quinoa or any other grain.”


Nuts. Nuts. Nuts. What a beautiful food the nut is. It is full of nutrients like fatty acids, protein, and fiber, but the almond has calcium and fiber in higher amounts than any other nut. Plus, it has a longer shelf life and a taste that compliments most dishes, savory and sweet alike. They make a great flour for those of us who are gluten-free and almond butter is a nice alternative to the higher calorie, sugar, and fat cousin peanut butter.


The last super helper is kelp. It is high in vitamins like A and C but also K, has a good amount of calcium, and a healthier way to get iodine. It is good in salads, as a side dish, and as an addition to stews, soups, and sauces, just to name a few places to use it

I’m super excited to experiment more with these foods. Already I eat and use many of these in my own cooking and baking, but I think all of these will soon become staples in my dishes. Their nutritious values are of the utmost importance, but the flavors they will bring are nothing to laugh at.

I hope you felt the same inspiration I did at learning about these foods.

Image Credit: dachazworks / Shutterstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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