Healthy Comfort Food Exists And It Will Cure Your Winter Blues

by Halley -Author at MIGardener

Written by - Kaitlynn from MIgardener

As I look out of the front window of the MIgardener store and peek over the top of my computer screen, I am met with a familiar sight. A dreary, gray, overcast day combined with most likely freezing drizzles of rain. My instincts are telling me to go home, bury myself in blankets and hibernate until spring. However, I remember the passion I have for bringing information to the MIgardener Masses, so I carry on. As my fingers tap away at the keys, I brainstorm just what in the world I could make for dinner tonight. Something quick and easy? Or something more?

There is nothing I'd like better than a helping of comfort food this evening. I know that on days like today, it's especially okay to give myself the space to sit back and enjoy good food. How does this relate to you? Well, I know your brain loves comfort food too. Fantastically, studies have shown that eating comfort food not only activates our brain's pleasure centers but also activates touch centers as well. That's why some foods taste so good that eating it feels like being given a hug by a dear friend. Pretty wonderful, huh? The cool thing about this is that there are ways to turn your favorite fruits, vegetables, and grain varieties into heartwarming comfort food. Believe it or not, there are mouthwatering ways to make some of your favorite foods as nutritious as they are delicious.

Here are a few ways you can get started caring for yourself in this way today: 

Whole Grains

The act of preparing food can be as therapeutic as eating it. One way to try out a traditional food prep process is to soak your oatmeal overnight before cooking it in the morning! Pre-soaking your grains overnight makes it possible for you to get the most nutrition out of them. Comfort food doesn't have to disrupt your day or be the main event. Sometimes it can be as simple as a perfect bowl of oatmeal. Adding a few teaspoons of acidity (yogurt, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice) to your oats and water overnight will help to kick off a mild fermentation process before cooking in the morning. Soaking them will also make them more digestible (and more delicious than the trendy chilled overnight oats). 

The best way to start your day is with this simple apple cinnamon soaked oatmeal recipe:

Serves Two:

1 cup of traditionally prepared soaked oatmeal

2 tsp cinnamon

2 apples, chopped

cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice to taste

2 tablespoons of brown sugar or your chosen sweetener

side of milk

After heating your cinnamon and soaked oatmeal, simmer apples, spices, and sweetener for 5-7 minutes or until mixture is syrupy and apples are soft. Add apple topping to oatmeal, add your favorite milk and enjoy!

Dark, Leafy Greens

Leafy greens might be the last thing on your mind when planning a comfort meal, but there are ways to incorporate extra servings of greens into mouthwatering dishes. Greens are one of the best things to eat on dreary days because varieties like spinach, kale, and chard are packed with Vitamin C. Vitamin C has been proven to boost mood and be a fantastic source of antioxidants. Mixing greens into your cheesy pasta is always a good idea for added health benefits. You can still have an intake of vitamins, but the feeling of comfort won’t be lost in the process. Does spinach artichoke dip count as a healthy meal? It’s all in the way you look at it! One of my favorite comfort foods is tuna noodle casserole, and I was so excited when I stumbled upon this slightly healthier alternative.


Sweet Potatoes

Some might say the sweet potato is the superior potato. Sweet potatoes have gotten more popular over the years because they are impressively nutrient-dense in comparison to other varieties. Their richness of flavor is another draw to their appeal. Now, you might have gathered that I’m a little obsessed with food. Anyone with a similar food obsession will be familiar with Bon Appétit, their amazing youtube channel, and magazine filled with recipe ideas. For me, there’s nothing like the combination of sweet and salty. So this Thanksgiving, when people typically aim to fill their casseroles with brown sugar and pecans, their recipe for savory sweet potato casserole calls for the marriage of amazing flavors. 

Winter Squash

Winter squash was perfectly designed for eating during the winter months. The health benefits seem to be tailored perfectly to combat the winter blues. Most notably, winter squash is high in polysaccharides, which help regulate and maintain healthy blood sugar levels, making it the perfect addition to any comfort meal. If you’ve been anywhere near Pinterest recently, you’ll see a massive trend in squash boat recipes. Even though many of these recipes call for excessive amounts of cheese and butter, there’s something about eating a meal out of squash that seems so much healthier. Spaghetti squash is one of the coolest types of squash in the world, offering a lower-carb replacement for noodles. There are so many amazing recipes for different types of squash boats, but for anyone who thinks about tacos as the ultimate comfort food, here's the burrito-style squash boat of your dreams. 


In conclusion, I think taking care of yourself in the coming cold season by spending time in the kitchen is one of the best ways to stay in touch with nature. Comfort food reminds us of the close relationships in our lives, so as we enter this holiday season, let's remember that it's more important to sit back with friends and family as we enjoy the simple joys of life. No matter what food you choose to make, it's a fantastic thing to share a meal that will do both your body and soul some good! 

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