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Get Stuffed - Seeking comfort from the cupboard

Comfort foods appealing during rainy weather, long days, when feeling pressure…

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I don’t know about you, but this recent spate of unseasonably cool weather has, not to be too repetitious, made me feel a bit under the weather, as in "blah". And it has me eating a lot of dark (as in 70-per cent cocoa) chocolate.

It could be cool rainy weather, a ridiculously bad day when not only do the wheels come off but they hit someone, the tentacles of the flu, or the return of your ex-whatever. On any of these all too frequent, adult thumb-sucking occasions, chances are pretty good that at some point you’ll reach for your favourite comfort food.

While comfort food is highly personalized, it also shares a few common traits. First, it’s always food that makes us feel good, not in a hyped-up glitzy way but more in a cozy-afternoon-tucked-under-your-favourite-quilt-with-a-good book kind of way. It also usually reminds us of childhood or adolescence (if they’ve been golden), or less complicated times, however we perceive them – cartoons after school, white picket fences, father sometimes knows best and all that jazz.

Comfort food is often white or neutral-coloured (think milk, apple pie, mashed potatoes), easy to chew (see above) and definitely reminiscent of mom. It’s also high in refined carbohydrates or fat or both. But the thing that’s really comforting about comfort food is that it can stare down Dr. Atkins and every other diet fad broker on the planet, plus it’s never competitive or intellectually demanding, as in, damn, where did I stash those freeze-dried Oaxacan chipotles, anyway?

Medical experts are still holding court on whether comfort food creates psychological benefits or physiological ones – or both. Either way, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper and better for you than alcohol, drugs or compulsive shopping.

The nice thing about comfort food is that you may not have to actually eat it to reap the benefits. Some people swear that just browsing through a bakery or their favourite recipe book can do the trick. Equally appealing is the idea that if you do indulge, you don’t have to go over top like some diet-possessed robotic – one or two of your favourite comfort foods can be mixed in with your regular day’s fare. (How long would you last on a steady diet of mashed potatoes and apple pie, anyway?)

That said, let’s take a look at some favourite comfort foods and see if we don’t get you at least thinking about heading to Nesters Market or The Grocery Store for a few items… say, a little chicken to fry up, some oatmeal and raisins for cookies, or maybe one of those 70-per cent-cocoa chocolate bars.

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