Healthy comfort food? Yes!

It’s February. The weather is mostly grey and wet.

There is no chance for any kind of bikini getaway, so we are stuck wearing the same winter clothes, or staying in and hoping NetFlix releases something amazing soon, because we watched everything they have so far.

Thankfully, the Canadian groundhogs were not scared off by their shadows, so that bodes well for the weather – if you believe in rodent prognosticators.

February does only have 28 days… but then there is March to get through before we get those cute pastel Easter colours and fuzzy bunnies. (It really does seem that all our hopes for getting happily through winter are based on rodents, doesn’t it?)

For many of us, this is the time when we fall into a rut. We may have fallen off the resolution wagon and slowed up our workout schedule. It’s easy to rationalize those potato chips we ate while sitting on the couch; we worked hard in the home office.

Many studies have told us that chocolate is good for us in all kinds of ways.

Did you know:

  • A 100-gram bar of dark chocolate with 70–85% cocoa contains:
  • 11 grams of fibre
  • 67% of the RDI for iron
  • 58% of the RDI for magnesium
  • 89% of the RDI for copper
  • 98% of the RDI for manganese
  • It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium

It’s at this point that we forget to include in our thinking that eating 100 g of chocolate in one sitting is downright silly – all because we are stuck in the winter blues.

Fear not, gentle reader. Those infinitely wise pundits (heavy on the “pun” here) have recently posted in the news that they have the answer.

They want us to eat all that comfort food and keep smiling on our couches, and now we can do that without feeling guilty. After all, Super Bowl weekend is coming, and then Valentine’s Day – we need to participate in the snacking.

With so much more time spent at home, many of us have indulged more. Alcohol consumption is up, and a recent survey in the U.S. found that 40% of Americans are snacking more than they were before the pandemic.

We Canadians are not falling that far behind. Frito-Lay has seen a 21% increase in snack foods.

Some of this indulgence is also about nostalgia, a concept central to comfort food. We like to remember happy times, and comfort food is usually centred around those times. The breakfast cereals we ate as kids hold a special place in our hearts.

That is why General Mills brought some of them back last fall. Trix, Golden Grahams, Cocoa Puffs and Cookie Crisp were re-released with “a return of the 80’s taste,” meaning all the work done to make them a more healthy recipe was thrown out in our time of emotional distress.

Of course, we all know we need a middle ground. The pandemic has not gone away, so our need for some comfort remains but we also want to consider our own wellbeing.

Announcing the new wellness trend for 2021: “emotionally soothing indulgent snacks.”

You might think I’m kidding. This is not just the rationalization that eating chocolate or ice cream makes you feel better, it is about including ingredients that have benefits such as immune-boosting antioxidants or healthy fats.

The holistic benefits of spices like cinnamon, ginger and turmeric have also become more popular.

Some examples of new items are:

  • Golden lattés with turmeric, and ginger in coffee or hot chocolate
  • Wild mushroom powder in but butters
  • Snack mixes flavoured with herbs and spices instead of salt

Of course, as sceptical as one might be about these combinations, there is a genuine upside – or so they say. Awareness about sustainability has increased, as many people make a greater effort to shop locally.

There has been more bulk shopping, which means less packaging.

The only problem with bulk packages is that there is more inside said package… and if our will power is not great then we tend to eat more, and more regularly (you can see where this is going – straight to our hips).

The solution now being offered is to sell “multi-packs,” a large container of small serving sized packages to help us control our portions. This does mean our efforts to lessen the waste go out the window, but we can get off the couch.

The one shift that seems to be carrying on undaunted in this new world is the trend to eating plant-based foods.

There are increasing efforts to showcase colourful dishes full of textures and flavours, enticing people to try this new approach to eating. Even if we don’t all get on this train 100%, it is certainly a healthy way of eating.

In closing, I want to offer up a selection of Super Bowl-worthy snacks that are all plant-based. Even if you’re not a believer, I’m sure you can use the basic recipe and add back in the meat or cheese if you wish.

Here are some recipes:.

If you support an independent store when you buy any ingredients, you get extra points.

For those of you wondering about my advice for Valentine’s Day, it is simply this: forego the out-of-season roses and enjoy chocolate or whatever your favourite treat might be.

This goes for everyone, single or attached. Love must come from within – be comfortable with yourself and you will likely find your comfort food is in a healthy balance too.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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