What makes a comfort food? It's the food that we crave or make when we are feeling nostalgic, or unwell or looking for something comforting. It's the food that our mother made us as children, or when we were unwell. It's the food that takes you to the place where you first tasted it, whether it was Christmas, Thanksgiving or your birthday. It is comfort food becomes it reminds you of a time of fun, joy and laughter, or of a time where you were being cared for while unwell.
Many delicious comfort foods that we know from our childhood are heavily based on meat, dairy, fat and sugar, I'm not here to say that these foods aren't to be eaten (that's for you to do your own research!), but I do know that they are relied on WAY too much in our diet today! How often do we reach for the sweet and fatty comfort foods when we are sad (to fire off those serotonin hormones)?
My ABSOLUTE comfort food growing up was Mac and Cheese (click here to access my Mac & Cheeze recipe), full of processed wheat pasta and frankenfood cheese sauce (my pre-Coeliac diagnosis days were blissfully unaware of the damage I was doing!). With the changes I have made in my diet, I had to get creative and do some swap outs, and most of the time it just did NOT satisfy! Fortunately I am perseverant, and with many foods from my childhood that I love love loved, I was able to not just swap out but replace the ingredients that I wanted to avoid (or use real versions of the ingredients NOT from the packet!). If you can't let go of "that" food, then making a healthy twist will reduce the guilt and help you look after yourself.
What can you do to make your favourite comfort foods healthy? Here are some examples (with a-ma-zing swap outs!):
- Chocolate - swap out the dairy chocolate and reach for the dark chocolate, you will find you don't need to eat as much AND you are reducing the processed sugar intake;
- Ice Cream - freeze some bananas and berries, and make up some delicious Nice Cream! Seriously, mix some coconut cream in there and you've got the natural sugars and healthy fats making you feel comfy;
- Burgers and Chips - pre-make some delicious burger patties and freeze them, so they are easy to grab when you feel like a burger (many of us have memories that revolve around certain burger joints);
- Donuts - hmmm, I'm working on this one - I'll come back to you soon on that!
What is your comfort food go-to? I'd love to hear what is in the comments - I'll be sure to add that to my Cook With Me LIVE recipe schedule to change it up a bit for you!