Comfort foods sound like the ooey, gooey, and yummy foods that we feel like are a “guilty pleasure”, but I view comfort foods as the recipes that were passed down generations. They would be made on a regular basis or on every special occasion. Everyone loved them and left you feeling warm inside.
Comfort foods feel even better in the winter when it might be freezing outside, but we can fill the house with wonderful scents, yummy foods, and full bellies that keep us nice and toasty. Sometimes these foods are the most nutrient dense, or have a balance in the macronutrients that our Registered Dietitian talks about, but these recipes still have plenty of positives!
Reframing How we Look at Comfort Foods
Instead of viewing the foods as a guilty pleasure, focus on gathering around the table or eating as a family – whatever that looks like for you. You can all talk about what happened that day, connect, and take a few minutes to slow down and just be.
There is enjoyment in sharing recipes with your family, everyone having their favorite meal, and it can be lots of fun preparing the food! Think of all the endorphins your body is producing when you are able to enjoy food and relationships. Endorphins not only help us with feeling enjoyment or pleasure, they also stimulate fat mobilization – something that everyone wanting to lose weight is looking for. Basically, it’s a 2-for-1 – we feel good and burn fat.
Now I am not saying go and eat your grandma’s knoephla and kraut recipe every day. But what I am saying is have some food freedom and body freedom. That way of being healthy is so much more enjoyable.
DO NOT strive for a goal that constantly leaves us frustrated and in failure. Learn how to care for and best nourish your body so you can feel your best. Once we all take this allure of ‘forbidden foods’ away, we can develop a positive attitude toward food and make nourishing food choices that feel good. Slow down, smell and taste your food. We all claim to love food, let’s prove it.
Some comfort foods have lots of dairy, so I am going to provide one that can be dairy free in honor of my Brother Danny who has a dairy intolerance and can not enjoy some of our moms comfort dishes.
*This recipe does not include meat, but chicken can easily be added.
Chickpea Noodle Casserole
1 medium cauliflower, cut into pieces (can also buy pre-cut)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups dry pasta, any with work. (can use chickpea noodles)
1 ½ cup milk, can use regular or almond
1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 cup frozen or fresh peas
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp. Olive oil
1 tsp. Onion powder
¾ tsp. Salt
Pepper to taste
2 tbsp. Nutritional yeast
2 tbsp. Bread crumbs
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Heat 1 tbsp. Olive oil in a medium saucepan. Sauté garlic until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add milk, cauliflower, vegetable stock, onion powder, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer, cook until cauliflower is soft.
3. Prepare pasta according to package directions, until nearly cooked. Pasta will finish cooking while in the oven.
4. Sauté mushrooms with 1 tbsp. olive oil until browned. Add soup and peas to the saucepan with mushrooms and cook for 1-2 minutes.
5. Add pasta, chickpeas to soup and mix. Pour into a 8×8 baking dish. Combine bread crumbs and nutritional yeast and spread over the pasta.
6. Drizzle with additional olive oil. Bake for 30 minutes, until bread crumbs are golden and crispy.
If you are looking for more advice or support from Vanessa – our Registered Dietitian, you can view her services here.