Posted by Nicole on March 10, 2014

So-called “comfort foods” get their name for a few reasons:

  • Carbohydrates help to facilitate the reception of serotonin in the brain, a chemical which is entwined with pleasure.

  • They're often indulgent, giving you a sense of decadence. Many comfort foods are made with specific ingredients and styles of cooking that are meant to invoke personal comfort, and they're filling.

  • Comfort foods use ingredients like chocolate, cheese, and many others that contain chemicals like casein, cocoa, and other compounds that our brains respond to positively. In the case of casein, which is found in dairy products, it can even prove to be addictive.

  • Some comfort foods also go well with another form of celebration of comfort, which is drinking. Because so many have breads, salts, and fats, they can provide somewhat of a buffer whenever you choose to imbibe that may protect you from a hangover the next day.

Comfortable Calories

The most notorious comfort foods, however, are full of calories. If you're on a diet, most are out of the question. Even if you aren't, eating comfort foods consistently can definitely create an uncomfortable situation for your body. We'll look at a few healthy comfort foods that you may want to consider, as well as healthy alternatives to old standards.

  • Low-Fat Protein Cheesecake.
    Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? You can actually make a very tasty low fat, high protein cheesecake by replacing the cream cheese with the fat free variety, and by using protein powder in your mix. With stevia as your sweetener, you can get the right level of sweetness without adding to your calorie toll. You may want to skip the graham cracker crust, as most will add an additional 800 calories to the cheesecake's total, but low-calorie alternatives do exist. Adding fresh fruits with sauces made from corn starch and stevia can even replace your usual toppings.

  • Baked Sweet Potato Fries
    Everyone loves a tasty plate of fries, but sometimes the heavy grease that they're fried in can do a number on your body. Cutting your own fries at home and baking them on a cooking sheet can yield the same crispy, golden results, but it gives you the added option of throwing your own herbs and seasonings into the mix. Want to up the health levels? Try replacing them with sweet potatoes, which contain high amounts of iron and magnesium, a de-stressing mineral. Baked sweet potato fries are comfort food on a whole new level.

  • Steamed Buffalo Wings
    We know this last one sounds a little far out there, but give it a try. Just steam your wings for ten to fifteen minutes, then dry them in the refrigerator for an hour. Put them in the oven, and roast them at 425 for about 20 minutes. Flip, and cook for another half hour. For the usual butter in your recipe, try alternatives like low-fat margarine, or butter combined with coconut oil. You'll get tender, crisp wings and a lower calorie count.