Remarkably Simple Ways to Consume Comfort Food – Without the Guilt

When I am speaking to clients and groups on the topic of designing a healthier life, comments about unhealthy food consumption often arise as they relate to stress resulting from uber-caffeinated careers and lifestyles.

The key is not to give up comfort food but to allow a spirit of awareness to infuse our comforting food choices.

When times get rough, and last week qualifies as a particularly challenging week, we understandably reach for comfort. If you find yourself reaching for more chips and ice cream out of emotional hunger or lack of control, you are not alone. Experts estimate that 75% of eating too much or reaching for unhealthy food is caused by emotions.

I read cooking magazines, books and blogs for fun. One way I express creativity is through food creation and presentation-culling, curating and concocting dishes for family and friends.

Since summer season is fast approaching and tragic events can take a toll on food consumption, I curated some comfort food recipes you'll love-without the mega calories, preservatives or guilt.

Here are some traditional comfort foods with a twist ~ they are healthy, simple to make and satisfyingly delicious.

Egg in a Hole

Breakfast is my favorite meal, and I love invoking a spirit of play when I cook. Reminds me of back when I served our children their pancakes on Sunday mornings. This is an excellent source of protein at any time of day.

The Pioneer Woman

Ann Marie "Ree" Drummond is an award-winning American blogger, No. 1 New York Times bestselling author, food writer, and television personality who lives on a working ranch outside of Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Her food focuses on real ingredients - wholesome comfort food without all the added preservatives.

Baked Mac & Cheese

Perhaps my favorite comfort food of all time. My mother often made a very cheesy rendition when my childhood friends came to our house in New Jersey on Saturday afternoon. It was so memorable that my childhood friends still descriptively recall that culinary experience.

Almond Crusted Salmon

Although salmon may not come to mind as a comfort food, it is a food choice that comes with many dietary benefits, most importantly, providing a source high in omega-3 fatty acids, to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

Gingered Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup

Potatoes and soup are always on my list of comfort foods. Here's a two-fer that deliciously combines sweet potatoes and soup.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

As a genetically predisposed chocoholic, this is forks-up the best recipe I have found. And it's gluten-free. Credit for the recipe goes to Laurie Colwin, an American novelist who wrote about families and food and wrote a column in Gourmet magazine for a few years. She produced two cookbooks, Home Cooking and More Home Cooking.

Comfort Food Tips

Recognize cues and patterns of eating. Mindless or mindful? Certain times of day, around certain people? What patterns do you want to continue, want to change?

Ask yourself what you need. More healthy recipes? Less eating out at restaurants? An inventory of fridge and pantry shelves? Minimizing on-demand unhealthy options?

Increase mindfulness about food choices. Choose one or two areas that matter and set intentions. Write them down and tell someone who will help keep you accountable.

It's humanizing to make mistakes. When you slip, keep going! Don't judge each lapse, keep the overall nourishing strategy in mind.

Experiment and play. Self-management around food does not require mean-girl severity and deprivation. A sense of abundance and spirit of play are positive, energetic perspectives to constructively change eating patterns.

Celebrate with non-food rewards when you are successful making healthy choices.

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