In these cooler days, you may have noticed your cravings for things like macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, and chicken soup are at an all-time high. Add cold weather to the mix and those cravings may even wake you out of a sound sleep.
No matter who you are, chances are you have a favorite dish you turn to as a pick-me-up when you’re feeling blue. Comfort foods are familiar dishes that hold a special place in our hearts. Often, these dishes were part of our childhood memories and/or reflect our national or ethnic identity, and have a bit of nostalgia attached to them.
Comfort foods are usually made from simple, inexpensive ingredients, and are easy to prepare, and are tasty and filling.
Common Comfort Foods
Popular comfort foods in United States include meatloaf, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, soups and stews, fried chicken, pizza, ice cream, doughnuts, and chocolate cake. While all of these foods are popular in Canada, too, Canadians also have a special fondness for poutine — French fries smothered in brown gravy and topped with cheese curd. Another favorite above the 49th parallel is frybread or “beaver tail” pastries, made from a flat piece of dough, deep-fried and covered in sugar and/or preserves or pie filling.
Other comfort foods around the world include tacos and quesadillas in Mexico, ramen or miso soup in Japan, baked beans on toast or “bangers and mash” (sausages and mashed potatoes) in the United Kingdom, and lasagne or cannelloni filled with beef in Italy.
Why Do Comfort Foods Comfort?
One things comfort foods around the world share is that most of them are heavily carbohydrate-based, featuring potatoes, pasta, or other heavy, starchy or sugary ingredients. That’s because starches and sugars give our bodies a natural boost in energy and feel-good hormones. While very sweet foods provide that boost quickly, they also bring on an equally swift crash. Starchy foods, on the other hand, like breads, pasta, and potatoes, release their sugars over time, offering a more even energy and mood enhancing benefit. Many comfort foods are also high in fat, which makes them feel particularly satisfying.
Our Favorite Comfort Food Recipes
Jaime McLeod is a longtime journalist who has written for a wide variety of newspapers, magazines, and websites, including MTV.com. She enjoys the outdoors, growing and eating organic food, and is interested in all aspects of natural wellness.