The weather definitely got chillier this week, which makes it time to reach for some comfort.
That’s cold-weather comfort foods, of course.
Mac and cheese sounds good, as do chicken pot pie, meatloaf, stew, grilled cheese with tomato soup, mashed potatoes, oatmeal and hot chocolate.
Everyone has favorites, the feel-good foods that remind us of times when we felt happy, cared for and loved.
Psychologists tell us that these foods make possible the release of dopamine into the body, conferring rewards such as pleasure, stress relief, and warm feelings. They also fill us up so we have energy to get us through a cold day or night.
Comfort foods don’t have to be fattening to be satisfying. The broccoli-cheddar soup recipe from gimmedelicious.com, shown below, can be lightened by using ingredients such as a plant butter instead of cow’s milk butter, 2% milk instead of half and half, and reduced-fat cheese. The flavor will stay intact thanks to the seasonings and broccoli.
Pick your favorite comfort food and you surely can find ways to lighten it, such as using ground turkey in meatloaf and skim milk in hot chocolate. Or indulge yourself with the full-fat version and be reminded of warm memories from the past.
4 tablespoons butter (½ stick)
½ medium onion, chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoon flour
1. Melt butter in a large dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook 3 to 4 minutes or until softened and light gold. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.
2. Add flour and whisk for 1 to 2 minutes or until the flour begins to turn golden in color. Pour in the chicken stock, broccoli florets, carrots, and seasoning. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes or until the broccoli and carrots are cooked through.
3. Stir in half & half and cheddar cheese and simmer for another minute. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
4. Serve with toasted crusty bread or in a bread bowl if desired.