Healthy food is our best preventative medicine. As busy women we may not listen to our bodies. In a frantic attempt to meet the needs of others we settle for what is easy but not wise. Many times I have shoved my kids cold, leftovers into my mouth as I hustle them out the door or skipped eating all together. Without paying attention I choose the cookie over fruit or protein and then feel like crap afterwards.
Comfort food does not have to be fatty, sweet, or unhealthy. If you dig deep in the past there is a meal that provides satisfaction and fond memories without the guilt. It could be……..
1)A favorite dish mom often cooked in your childhood. For me that would be tuna noodle casserole.
2) Cuisine unique to your cultural heritage or the region where you grew up or lived a long time. The first thing that comes to my mind is homemade cheese enchiladas.
3)”Invalid Food” which is warm, soupy, soft and easy to digest, like a porridge or gruel. With the grains there are often tiny bits of added vegetables to provide vitamins and minerals. Sometimes there is a small amount of meat for “rebuilding” or medicinal plants to support recovery. This is commonly given to babies, the elderly or those recovering from a long hard illness. Congee is something I remember giving my youngest in China.
When times are tough we may forget the power of something so simple as comfort food. When we really need it the opportunity for buying or making it is often not there. That is why I like to make it ahead of time and freeze it for later use. Instead of depending on someone else for a meal, you have planned ahead to take care of yourself.
Comfort food is support through nutrition, memory, and the senses. The most powerful one being smell. If you have a favorite vice (freshly brewed coffee, just baked bread, a new bar of chocolate) it is the scent that recalls and brings the happy sigh. When cooking think about color, texture, and the balance of various tastes.
We waste a lot of time and energy that easily be reallocated towards making meals. Sunday morning is my favorite time to cook. I can get several condiments, soups, and simple staples made during two hours that will be readily available to make several healthy meals during the week. Each weekday I have it planned that while my girls do their music practice, I take that hour to start a grain in the rice cooker and a legume in the crockpot. That makes a future healthy breakfast or lunch so easy to throw together is the form of a wrap, bowl, salad or patty.
Eating should be pleasurable, fulfilling, nurturing, slow and beneficial to the body.
I love soup as a comfort food. I am not a big fan of juicing so a breakfast of warm borscht gives me many of the same benefits without the “cold” energy.
The Perfect Borscht
1 smaller leak
1 medium onion
1/2 medium red pepper
2 stalks of celery
1 cup of root vegetables-carrots, parsnips, yams, or 1 medium potato. I will also use any random small pieces or cooked leftovers.
1 medium tomato or 2 TBSP of lemon juice
1/2-1/4 red cabbage depending on size
2-4 beets depending on size
4-8 cups of stock
1 cup of greens (kale, chard, dandelion, nettles, parsley, cilantro, fennel, dill, spinach, tops etc.)
Coarsely chop the first 4 ingredients and saute in them in 2 TBSP of olive oil. I like to use a very large cast iron pot for this as I can do it all in one dish.
Add in 4 cups of stock and the rest of you vegetables coarsely chopped. Simmer on low for 1 hour. Add in the green, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for another 1-2 hours. Let cool and puree until smooth. Reheat and serve immediately. You can garnish with yogurt or other yummy condiments. Nothing goes better with any soup that homemade bread and some good goat cheese.
What is your favorite comfort food? Please share this post with other women so that we can all benefit from this knowledge during these difficult times.