Published on Latino American Today, February, 2015, -article and recipes by Amalia Moreno-Damgaard. What is comfort food? It depends who you ask. It is subjective and cultural. It is an emotional connection to food by age and gender. It can link people to their home or culture.
Typical American comfort foods are chicken soup, beef stew, mashed potatoes, and others. However, comfort food for men is not necessarily the same comfort food preferred by other groups. Men prefer heartier foods such as steak and potatoes, while women prefer lighter meals that remind them of their childhood or special life experience.
Latin Americans are nostalgic about their culture and especially about their food. They yearn for traditional meals from their countries of origin that remind them of happy memories. Celebrations often tend to include home-style meals with recipes that pass from aunts, moms, daughters and sisters, to cousins. They cherish recipes through time and these eventually become comfort foods. It is a way to reconnect to the homeland.
Comfort food is not always healthy, but there is always a way to modify it to make it healthier paying special attention to fat and salt. Leaner cuts of meat have fewer calories. Roasting in the oven instead of frying can mimic the taste of fried foods. Chicken and fries can be made this way without sacrificing flavor and quality. Sautéing vegetables and other foods in canola or olive oil instead of deep-frying them is a healthier choice. When we cook at home, we can control how much salt goes into the food too.
Some of my favorite recipes for wintertime are soups and stews. They are not only easy and delicious, but often they are hearty one-pot-meals. These dishes often allow us to consume more vegetables in one sitting than when we eat a regular meal. The real bonus here is that we have the option of using a variety of lean and healthy ingredients. We can skim any visible fat that floats to the surface and add as many vegetables and starches as we wish. Also, we can complement soups with avocado, radishes, and fresh herbs.
Below is a classic recipe that I make often for my family.
Ver receta: Caldo de Pollo
, chicken and vegetable soup