Everyone has their own comfort foods: those go-to meals or snacks that just satiate you in a way no other food can. It makes you feel warm and comforted…hence the name. I personally have a lot of comfort foods and almost all of them involve cheese. I LOVE cheese – all kinds of cheese, but especially the ooey-gooey melty kinds of cheese – and anyone who knows me knows that you don’t come between me and my cheese unless you want to lose a finger. Any credible nutritionist would tell you to limit your consumption of cheese because, you know, saturated fat. I usually ignore that and focus more on the valuable nutrients you get from cheese, like calcium, protein and vitamin D. But, much to my dismay, cheese can sometimes cause issues with my sensitive digestive system. That doesn’t deter me on a normal day, but when I’m marathon training it can wreak havoc. During training season I have to learn the word moderation and come up with other ways to satisfy my need for comfort food.
Recently, I’ve started reaching back into my childhood for comfort food that doesn’t involve loads of cheese. When I was young, my Grammy would make “dropped egg on toast”. All it entails is a poached egg on top of buttered toast. So simple yet oh so yummy and satisfying. To be fair, she’s not the inventor of eggs on toast, but in my opinion she was the best. I’ve put my own twist on it and use whole wheat English muffins most of the time, or if I’m feeling fancy I’ll mash up avocado on the toast before I put the egg on top and maybe sprinkle red pepper flakes. I used this handy little tutorial on how to make a good poached egg (http://www.purewow.com/entry_detail/national/11507/The-one-trick-to-poaching-an-egg.htm) and now I just can’t stop putting them on top of everything. The beauty of a poached egg is that you don’t use any oil or butter, so it’s a really healthy way to cook them.
Another childhood favorite of mine is chili. This is also really simple to make and so comforting with or without cheese piled on top. I just put a dollop of Greek yogurt (in lieu of sour cream…tastes pretty much the same and it’s better for you) and, if I have one, I’ll add slices of avocado on top. Which brings me to another point – I find that when I add avocado to soups, salads or sandwiches, I almost don’t even miss the cheese…I know, blasphemy! There’s just something about the creamy texture that, when added to an already tasty dish, takes care of that craving for me.
Yet another comfort food for me is mashed potatoes. The problem with mashed potatoes is that they can be loaded with butter, and the way I make them most definitely falls into that category. One way I get my potato fix without the butter is to take a baked potato and mix in Greek yogurt (this is easily becoming one of my favorite condiments) and some chunky salsa. This works for sweet potatoes, too. If I happen to put a sprinkle of cheese on top, it’s not the end of the world. Moderation, right?
Now, I’m off to eat as much cheese as I can before I’m deep into marathon training.