With the holidays over, we are officially approaching the thick of the winter season. This time of year can be difficult, whether it be the bitter cold, lack of daylight, or decrease in social gatherings. But there is one perk that winter brings: comfort food. Comfort food gives rise to a psychologically comfortable and pleasurable state when eaten.
Embracing Comfort Food
As the name suggests, comfort food is any type of food that brings a person some fulfillment. These foods tend to be associated with nostalgia or something that is familiar and provides comfort. In fact, a 2015 study at Sewanee found that comfort food was associated with close relationships. It reminds us of our “social ties” and helps us feel less lonely when we feel isolated. So, without further ado, here are some cozy comfort food ideas guaranteed to warm up even the coldest nights.
Classic Macaroni & Cheese: When it comes to this “simple” dish, there is nothing simple about it. There are endless ways to dress this meal up and make it your own. If you’re looking to add a bit more edge to the flavor, throw in a more distinct cheese! You could pick anything from goat cheese to Monterey jack to brie. Add a little spice with jalapenos, or keep it classic and top with breadcrumbs. Regardless of what your style is, you can’t go wrong with this comfort dish.
Next Up, Chicken Pot Pie: A staple in many households growing up, this dish is packed full of nostalgia. It’s the perfect way to warm up after a winter commute. To save time prepping this somewhat lengthy dish, use store-bought rotisserie chicken. This way, you can start enjoying it sooner!
Get Cozy with Beef Stew: Beef stew is a cold-weather essential. Tender beef is simmered in beef broth with potatoes, onions, celery, peas, and carrots. To top it off, not much elbow grease or maintenance is needed to create this dish.
Experiment with Beef Stroganoff: If you are looking to stray from the classics a bit, another great comfort food idea is beef stroganoff. This rich and creamy dish is super simple to prepare, making it a great choice for busy weeknights! Pair it with a glass of wine and throw on your favorite TV show.
For Dessert, Chocolate Lava Cake: Lastly, if you are looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, you can’t go wrong with a gooey chocolate lava cake. It’s easier to make than it sounds and is guaranteed to bring you some cheer. You can even try one of the “cake in a mug” recipes for even less fuss.
The Science Behind Comfort Food
Comfort food isn’t just about eating something because you enjoy it. Instead, it is intertwined with other aspects of one’s life through emotions, memory, and culture. Our brains are very good at linking experiences with positive, neutral, or negative memories. Therefore, if a certain experience is associated with a sense of connection, community, or a good meal, it can drive us to seek that same pleasurable experience again. One of the biggest reasons we love eating certain foods comes down to our biology. According to nutrition expert Akua Woolbright, we are hardwired to enjoy experiences like eating because it’s essential to our survival as a species, and typically, we tend to crave calorie-dense foods.
So, this winter, indulge! Embrace the art of making your own comfort food and appreciate the logic behind it all. And when Spring approaches, you can go out and celebrate your hard work in the kitchen.
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 : https://www.allrecipes.com/recipes/16099/everyday-cooking/comfort-food/