Comfort foods are nostalgic or sentimental meals that are simple in preparation but often high in calories and carbs, with memories of better times. They’re something we reach for when we’re under the weather with a cold or stressed.
The problem with comfort foods however is that while they give your spirit a dose of TLC, they can deliver to your body an overload of unhealthy ingredients. While no one is proposing that you give them up, if you understand why you crave them then you can learn to recognize the signals in your body and brain before you dive in to something that’s awful for you.
Is There a Such Thing As Paleo Comfort Food?
To most, Paleo recipes are delicious but don’t resemble what we consider “comfort food.” They’re about thriving without the grains, sugars or dairy, which usually make up comfort foods! Thank goodness we can Paleo-ize our comfort foods ensuring the basics, the balance of macronutrients and the reinsertion of pleasure. Yes, we can reach for comfort food recipes without repercussions. We just have to change up our thinking slightly. When you think comfort foods you may think chicken soup, roasts, casseroles, roasted root veggies, mashed potatoes and sausages: which from a nutritional standpoint means broth / collagen, fattier slow cooked meats preserving their precious proteins, starches and more (healthy sourced) fats. When it comes to craving comfort foods, your body is talking to you.
When your body is looking for feel-good hearty fare, the examples above are what you should deliver. Some good ole’ food favorites that make you feel full of energy and not sluggish. Before looking at suggested recipes, let’s break down the common comfort food types and find out why you may be craving them.
Common Comfort Food Cravings
- Collagen rich foods like slow cooked meats provide every cell’s scaffolding.
- Healthy fats with preserved proteins help each other other digest while providing the bricks for the scaffolding.
- Roast veggies and starches in healthy fats provide fat-soluble vitamins which means useful vitamins!
- And more healthy sourced fats provide the lipid bilayer of the membrane of every cell i.e. two layers of fats so you’ve more been what you eat!
Craving comfort foods when you’re not feeling your best may be your body’s way to help healing and regenerating itself to get you back to 100%!
Top 10 Paleo Comfort Foods
Here are some Paleo Comfort Foods to get you started:
- Raw Beet Truffles: Who doesn’t find chocolate anything comforting?! It’s delicious sweet taste and creamy texture aside, you might find you enjoy a little boost from indulging. Chocolate cravings seems especially tied to hormone changes. The magnesium in chocolate, as well as its ability to affect neurotransmitters, may be a large part of the reason. So your next craving chocolate you might well be self-medicating for a dietary deficiency in magnesium. And these raw beet balls are almost chocolate, in fact healthy, so enjoy.
- Homemade Chicken Pot Pie: Warm and filling, talk about the ultimate comfort food. Healthy fats(contained in each
premade meal delivery pie I’ve linked) are the main ingredient of every membrane, in every cell in our body from our skin to our hormones. It’s no wonder this is a go to for so many people.
- Sticky Date Pudding: I’m sure we all have childhood memories of a favorite pudding our mothers made especially when the cake was still warm and that can probably be easily compared to this one. Dates are a great source of dietary fiber and have the highest concentration of polyphenols among dried fruits. Dates are a perfect energy boosting snack but alongside the healthy fats in the nuts and coconut oil (fats slow sugars down and aid in their digestion) and the eggs for protein, you’ve got pretty much a balanced meal with all three macronutrients.
- Biscuits and Gravy: No explanation necessary. It’s an ultimate Paleo comfort food.
- Fried Chicken: Right at the heart of southern cooking, fried chicken is perhaps homestead cooking personified. And while we’ve talked about the benefits of healthier fats, fried chicken’s spices – paprika and cayenne – could well be the comforting factor on top. Paprika is not just a spice that adds color, but is also rich in vitamin C and carotenoids, providing a variety of health and beauty benefits, and alongside cayenne, both have Ayurvedic properties to do with metabolism and warmth spanning 1000s of years of cooking. Garlic and onion are often added too and both part of the same allium family often associated with stomach health and immunity. Healthy fried chicken ticks all the winter-wearies.
- Original Shepherds Pie: If there was ever a comfort food that delivered as much comfort as it did nutrient dense benefits this would be it! The structural aid of the collagen in 48 hour slow cooked beef broth and cauliflower-mash instead of potato, rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, choline, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, manganese, phosphorus, and biotin deliver a pretty big health boost.The bonus is that Shepherd’s Pie is even better as leftovers, so you can continue your healthy comfort food eating into lunch the next day.
- Cream of Broccoli Soup: Simply put, this soup is anti-aging beauty in a bowl and if that’s not a comfort to anyone then nothing is. The organic chicken broth is wonderful for nutrient absorption, fat soluble vitamin digestion and then the best of all, increasing your collagen levels. As we lose collagen, the skin becomes thinner and creases (aka wrinkles) form. So, if you really want to get rid of wrinkles permanently, you’ve got to increase your collagen levels: cream of broccoli soup is truly Botox in a bowl without any of the toxins.
- Apple Cinnamon or Strawberry Paleo-Tarts: There’s nothing quite as comforting as the smell of toast in the morning or apple pie at night, and these paleo tarts bring those two together! The main ingredient is cassava flour, which is great for people with allergies like gluten or grains, or nuts and coconut, the latter which most of us eating alternatives to traditional flour are consuming rather too much of anyway! However, the comfort isn’t limited to relief of your allergies, but down to the depths of your tummy and beyond. Cassava flour is probiotic, which basically means food for your good tummy bacteria. They promote your very best immunity. Also known as a resistant starch, cassava has been shown to increase the absorption of important minerals like calcium and magnesium, decrease absorption of toxins, lower overall blood glucose levels and increase feelings of satiety. Now that’s a comfort food with bang for your buck!
- Ice cream sandwiches: Comfort food needn’t always be about the warm and fuzzies. These ice cream sandwiches use graham crackers made from hazelnut meal for a chocolate-y finish and ice cream made with frozen bananas, cacao and maple syrup.
- AIP Vegetable Lasagna with Pork Sausage: Don’t let the AIP in the title fool you into thinking this delicious dinner is just too healthy to be comforting. It’s also not too AIP as to avoid the wondrous sneaky veggies and their requisite nutrient bang for your buck they manage to get into one meal! Comfort food just took a step toward healthy.
So there you have all the comfort reasons why paleo comfort foods can indeed be healthy too. But let’s not forget to enjoy your creature comforts with a good conscience and good health because it’s the pleasure side of eating that is truly comfort food inside and out.
Paleo Does Mean Comfort Foods
The idea of Paleo comfort foods sounds paradoxical: Paleo is all about eating for health and comfort foods not so much! If you’re craving foods of any kind, comfort foods as well, Paleo is a great platform for looking into why: Paleo can help us better balance our foods by reconsidering our “go-to” and that goes for “Paleo-izing” our comfort food favorites. That way, warming recipes for winter nights can indeed be food for the soul that takes you to better days while still having a good day today as well!