Comfort food. It even sounds warm and welcoming - like cuddling up by the fire on a cold winter day. Comfort food trends have seen a real resurgence in recent years and our desire for comfort food seems to be holding strong. So what is comfort food? Generally it's the food we have good memories about, the food we think of when we hear the word homemade, and that reminds us of simpler times.
The list of favorite comfort foods can be different for each of us. While homemade macaroni and cheese and meatloaf with mashed potatoes have been staples for many of us, for some of us comfort food may include a delicious cheesy lasagna, or yummy sweet potato pie. We all tend to love the food that takes us back to our roots - the foods we grew up with.
Some of our top comfort food choices were found to be:
- Pasta sauces
- Pot pies
- Mashed potatoes
- Potato salad
- Macaroni and cheese
- Biscuits and scones
- Beef stew
- Fruit pies
- Chocolate chip cookies
Why the increased desire for comfort foods? It seems to be a combination of things. People are busier and more stressed than ever. The last few years have also resulted in many of us feeling less safe in the world. We want to feel warm and safe again, the way we did when we were young and the world seemed simpler.
Comfort food trend watchers say that we are craving the foods we grew up with. People want to enjoy their homes and entertain at home. We're expressing an interest in cooking everything from easy party food recipes to BBQ to slow cooked roasts with all the trimmings.
We also want to experience different tastes, sometimes tastes from around the world, sometimes the familiar foods we love, with twist or an extra bit of pizzazz. So we have things like garlic mashed potatoes, 4 cheese macaroni and cheese and thin crust gourmet pizzas.
We're also a population that is becoming more aware of health and making healthy food choices. With aging baby boomers creating a bulge in our populations, healthy lifestyle trends are front and center. We want fewer calories but all the taste, healthier eating with the comforts of our favorite foods. So where does this leave us? How do we combine comfort food trends with healthier lifestyle trends?
As much as we love our comfort foods many of us now look for ways to turn them into healthier choices, with a lower fat content and fewer calories. We tweak those great recipes from the past so we maintain (or sometimes even improve) the taste but forgo some of the fat, unhealthy carbs and sugar content. And while most of us are still eating our favorite comfort foods, maybe it's just a little less often. We might decide to share that piece of amazing cheesecake so we get the taste but not the pounds.
We're going back to our roots - but with a nod to healthy food choices and a few wonderful, tasty twists along the way.
- Editor's Note: Karen Ciancio is a cook and lover of all things food and cooking related. Her website http://www.cookingnook.com contains recipes for comfort foods, plus lots of other recipes, cooking tips, measurement conversions and kitchen ideas.