I’m so excited to be doing a guest post for Say Yes to Salad! I love Maggie’s blog, and jumped at the chance to do a guest post. I’m Mara, and I write “What’s For Dinner?”, a cooking and recipe blog chronicling what I cook for dinner each night. I had to wrack my brain for something interesting to write about, and since Maggie talks a lot about cooking healthy, eating organic and macrobiotic, I thought I’d try to hit those topics as well as something near and dear to me: comfort food.
I asked around my various foodie communities (and my family) about what they would consider “comfort food.” The resounding answer for most people was grilled cheese (American cheese singles on white bread) and condensed soup (usually tomato, sometimes chicken). Some people said some other things, but most comfort foods involve massive amounts of starch, a small amount of protein, and one common ingredient: it reminds us of a time or place where we were comfortable/safe, usually our childhood. HOW does this have anything to do with the whole organic/macrobiotic/healthy food thing I mentioned above? Don’t worry, I’ll get there.
For me, comfort food is something that takes me back to being a little girl and being drawn down from my bedroom to the kitchen to see what mom was cooking. Its something that will throw me to grandma’s bright yellow kitchen, sitting on her tall stool, waiting for the baked yumminess to come out of the oven. For me, comfort food was not what we would now call “junk.” I was lucky enough to have a very health conscious mom who, every summer took us to the farmer’s market every weekend. She’d take us grocery shopping and explain what dish each ingredient went into, and I knew about “perimeter shopping” long before it was the “cool” thing to do. (I’m getting to the point, I swear). Comfort food though, was usually for special occasions. As I grew older, I started wanting that comfort food whenever I was stressed, so I sought out cheaper and faster alternatives. A grilled chicken fast food sandwich replaced roasted whole chicken. French fries replaced garlic roasted potatoes. But should it?
Nowadays, with all of our health-consciousness, we can very easily return to our comfort food roots but stay true to our current eating values. Grilled cheese and tomato soup? Sure! Go with Pacific Foods Organic creamy tomato soup, local artisan bread, and organic or soy cheese. Macaroni and cheese? Homemade is easy with organic pastas and cheeses, or even easier with things like Amy’s Organic macaroni and cheese mixes. Just because its comfort food, doesn’t mean it has to be bad for us.
So, my point: sometimes, the most comforting thing about comfort food is the care with which its made and the love that goes into every stir. I can’t have my mom’s roast chicken every day, but I can certainly replicate it, and intend to do so when I have kids of my own. i also have to remember that I’ll be creating my own comfort foods. While for me, it’s roast chicken, for my kids? Who knows! It might be baked tofu! Fast food is just that: fast. Comfort food is slow and full of love, even if its just grilled cheese and tomato soup.