10 Heart-Healthy(ish) Comfort Foods for a COVID Winter

Emotional eating was the theme of the week in my practice. (And I’m getting busier!) I think after 7 months of living with COVID-19, people are shifting their attention back to other aspects of health, including nutrition. (And getting more comfortable with virtual appointments. Yay!)

First, two tips about emotional eating. Number one… it’s not necessarily a problem! It’s a coping mechanism, and coping is good. There are worse ways to cope. But if it gets to the point where you feel like it’s negatively impacting your health, then it makes sense to do something about it.

Number two… addressing emotional eating is about more than finding different things to eat! It starts with taking an objective look and identifying root causes, from stress (obvious) to a history of dieting (less so) to undereating, sleep trouble, and many, many more. If this is really a problem for you, it might help to work with an objective professional — a dietitian and/or counsellor who can help you get at (and alleviate) these triggers.

But I digress. As small a role as this plays, I thought you might appreciate a few ideas for warm, satisfying, comfort foods that support heart health as we approach what might be a tough winter. With that in mind, here are a few of our favourites.

  1. Muhammara Chickpea Skillet – hot, flavourful, spicy, and ready in under 30 minutes. One of you recommended this to me too, and now I can’t remember who. Sorry!
  2. Red Lentil & Sweet Potato Curry with Spinach – give it a few extra minutes to simmer, so the sweet potatoes really break down
  3. Hoisin Stir Fry Bowls with Spicy Peanut Sauce – another 30 minute meal
  4. Pressure Cooker Mushroom Risotto – also works with quick-cooking steel-cut oats for a whole grain variation
  5. Creamed Cauliflower and Brown Rice – veggie and whole grain side
  6. Easy Chicken Parmesan – the classic
  7. Turkey Chili with Barley – even better if it simmers on the stove or in the slow cooker for a while
  8. Protein Power Goddess Bowl – lentils and tahini dressing. Need I say more?
  9. Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and Goat Cheese – easy peasy
  10. Blood Pressure Friendly Berry Tart – Less than ten minutes to get this dessert in the oven.

Or just roast up some chunks of sweet potato or make a hot bowl of oats (and don’t feel you need to skip the brown sugar). Or apple crisp. The possibilities are endless.

Now if you’re thinking, “Hey Cheryl, sugar! / salt! / refined grains! / etc.” you might be falling into the trap of “all or nothing thinking.” Nope nope nope. Don’t go there.

First of all, every meal doesn’t have to be a ten out of ten, nutrition-wise, to help you stay healthy. Eight or nine is fantastic. Seven is fine. Less than that is okay if it’s not all the time. Flexibility here might even leave you with energy to focus on staying active and taking care of your emotional health too.

Second of all, we’re looking for comfort foods here, and we’re competing with takeout, salty snacks, and ice cream here. Let’s not let perfect be the enemy of good.

We’ll get through this winter. Think of it as a chance to experiment more in the kitchen! Which one are you going to try first? Do you have any heart-healthyish comfort food favourites? You know I love to hear from you, either on Facebook or via email.









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