Delicious + Nutritious = Healthy Comfort Foods

Guest Blogger: Victoria Dolby Toews, MPH

Food and comfort go hand-in-hand. When a loved one is gravely sick or recovering from an illness or injury, our first inclination is to bring over some comfort foods. Before you head to the kitchen, you may want to consider – especially if the person is ailing – whether your comforting foods are healing or hurtful.

Surely if there is ever a time a body needs healthy food, it is when it is sick. But all-too-often the comfort foods that are served up in times of trouble are things like sticky buns, tuna casserole, cheesy lasagna, ribs, or macaroni and cheese.

As you can see from this list of favorites, most “comfort” foods are high in fat, sodium, sugar, or just plain nutritionally void. For a loved one in recovery, these foods, while given out of love, can actually delay the healing process. But this doesn’t mean you can only share carrot sticks and tofu with your loved ones. There is actually a place where good taste and good health meet up; healthy versions of comfort foods do exist.

Take the case of chicken noodle soup: the ultimate go-to comfort food. This soup is often very high in sodium. Here’s a healthful update on the classic comfort food of chicken noodle soup. It’s still delicious, only now it’s more nutritious.This version is made with whole-wheat egg noodles to add fiber and nutrients and reduced-sodium chicken broth to lessen the sodium.

Simply Healing Chicken Noodle Soup

Servings: About 6


Reduced-sodium chicken broth, 10 cups
Carrots, 3 medium-sized (diced)
Celery, 1 stalk (diced)
Ginger, 3 tablespoons (minced)
Garlic, 6 cloves (minced)
Whole-wheat egg noodles, 3 cups
Cooked, skinless chicken breast, 4 cups (shredded)

After bringing the broth to a boil in a large saucepan, add the carrots, celery, ginger, and garlic. Cook uncovered over medium heat for about 20 minutes. Add the noodles and chicken and continue to cook at a simmer for 8-10 minutes.

Comfort Tips:

  • Check for food allergies or dietary restrictions before selecting a dish to share. You don’t want to bring a high-sodium dish if your loved one’s leaving the hospital after heart surgery or a shrimp dish to someone with a shellfish allergy.
  • Make your dish in a disposable tray you won’t need back so the family doesn’t have to keep track of extra serving dishes to return.
  • If you know that the family might be inundated with dinner dishes, opt for a lunch or breakfast item instead.

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