When we're not feeling our best, whether we're stressed out or we're coming down with a cold, we often turn to "comfort food" to soothe ourselves. There's nothing wrong with using food to feel better as long as you don't eat something that will just end up making you feel worse later. But, don't worry, there are plenty of healthy comfort foods that you can enjoy with guilt or regret. Here are 15 delicious ideas:
1. Bowl of Oatmeal. There's no better way to start the day (especially a cold one) than with a warm bowl of oatmeal. Not only will the fiber in oatmeal help you feel full longer, it will also help your heart by reducing the amount of cholesterol you absorb. As if that isn't enough, you can make your breakfast even more special by adding a variety of healthy toppings. Try a 1/4 cup of blueberries, 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts and a dash of cinnamon or 1/2 a sliced banana and 1 tablespoon of peanut butter. You'll feel good from the inside out.
2. NB&H. Just like the PB&J of your childhood, a nut butter and honey sandwich will hit the spot when you're out of sorts. This grown-up version of the brown-bag staple can be made from any kind of nut or seed. It's easy to make your own nut butters in a food processor. Try almonds, hazelnuts or cashews. Although nuts are high in calories, they pack a huge nutrition punch, providing heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats, filling protein and essential vitamin and minerals.
3. Chicken Noodle Soup. Even the Mayo Clinic agrees that chicken soup can reduce inflammation and speed the loosening of mucus in the sinuses, so listen to your Mom on this one. If you're feeling bad, go for soup. If traditional chicken noodle is too bland for your grown-up tastes, there are lots of options to spice it up including ginger and pesto.
4. Baked Potato. It might feel naughty, but if you top your baked potato with Greek yogurt and salsa or grilled chicken and reduced-fat cheddar, you'll have a filling, hearty meal that's healthy, too. But don't stop with just the humble white potato, there are so many other delicious varieties. If you're looking for extra comfort, try baked sweet potato fries! Sweet potatoes are packed with beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant, and vitamins A and C. They also don't spike blood sugar levels as much as regular potatoes.
5. Mmmm, Meatloaf. You don't have to choose between delicious and bad for you or healthy but dry and crumbly. Cook your meatloaf in a crockpot and you can turn extra lean ground beef into a dinner delight. You can change up the herbs in the recipe above to create your own meatloaf variations. Try dill and garlic or spinach and Italian seasoning.
6. Chicken and Dumplings. This version tastes an awful lot like Grandma's but without all the fat and salt that made hers a disaster waiting to happen. Olive oil, boneless, skinless chicken breast and skim milk are combined with fresh veggies and no-salt-added chicken stock to make a meal that will turn any rainy day into a lovely evening.