Contributed by Jennifer Dawson
When it's cold outside and times are tough, people naturally turn to food to improve their mood. In fact, according to a recent survey, 81 percent of Americans agree that eating their preferred comfort food would make them feel better. During the winter season, our bodies crave hot and indulgent meals, such as thick stews, hearty pies, and delectable roasts. But when times are tough, is it possible to make delicious and satisfying meals when premium ingredients are scarce?
Cooking comfort food may seem like a challenge if you're working with stockpiled ingredients or if fresh produce is hard to come by. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to navigate these culinary challenges so you and your loved ones can have delicious and warming meals this winter. Here are a few tips to make comfort food for cold and uncomfortable times.
Use Dried Pasta and Cheese to Enrich Soups
When it's dark and dreary outside, nothing's more comforting than a bowl of steaming hot soup. Whether it's a clear broth or a rich, cream based soup, try adding some dried pasta to the mix to make it heartier. For instance, consider adding dried curly egg noodles to chicken broth, diced celery, carrots, and potatoes to make a healthy chicken noodle soup. Meanwhile, if you've got a hankering for clam chowder but you don't have fresh cream or fresh oysters, you can make a bacon potato chowder using a powder mix, then add some dried bacon bits for texture. Some freshly grated cheddar cheese would also be a good addition to this soup. If you're short on fresh cheese, though don't fret. Simply sprinkle dried cheese on top of your chowder to enhance the flavor and boost its nutritional value.
Make a Coffeecake to Pair with Hot Drinks
For most people, a cup of hot coffee or tea is enough to shake off the doldrums on a winter day. To make your hot beverage even more comforting, make a coffeecake to pair with it. There is evidence that shows that cake can make you feel happy since we normally associate this sweet pastry with celebrations or milestones. Moreover, people believe that celebrating is an integral part of wellbeing, so even if you only have a simple loaf-type cake, it can make your coffee or tea break feel more special.
If you have a gingerbread loaf recipe from a popular coffeeshop, go through your stockpile and use bakers flour or white cake mix to make it, then top it with a thin layer of cream cheese or banana pudding mix. You can also make cupcakes if you prefer to do so. They require less batter so your stores will last longer. They also take less time to bake, so you can have your sweet wintertime treat anytime you need it.
Learn How to Make Rice Porridge
Rice porridge or congee is a common food in Asia, and while it originally came from China, other countries like Korea, Thailand, India, the Philippines, and Japan have their own version of it. It's a hot, filling meal that's often cooked on rainy days, so it's bound to be perfect for a snowy day. What's more, it's a great way to make your rice stockpile go further.
For a simple yet comforting congee, make lugaw, which is the Philippine version of the dish. First, wash half a cup of long-grain rice with water, and repeat this step several times until the water runs clear. Set it aside. Next, mince four cloves of garlic and half an onion, and julienne a small piece of ginger.
In a pot, saute the garlic, onion and ginger until the onion is translucent. Add 1 and a half tablespoons of fish sauce, then pour in the washed rice. Add 4 cups of chicken stock to the pot and let the mixture boil. Turn down the heat and allow the congee to simmer, then let it cook for 35 minutes. To serve, top the lugaw with chopped spring onions and a hard boiled egg.
Certain foods can uplift your mood and make you feel happier, so why not make some comfort food today? It's a great way to uplift your spirits, so consider these ideas to make winter days feel special, even during tough times.