Comfort food. Even the words sound warm and welcoming.
Comfort food trends continue to see a resurgence in recent years and our desire for comfort food holds strong.
So what is comfort food?
Generally it’s the food we have good memories about, and often the food we think of when we think of our youth or hear the word homemade.
Comfort food is food that nourishes the soul as well as our bodies.
It tends to be food that reminds us of simpler times.
Favorite comfort foods vary from person to person of course.
While homemade meatloaf with mashed potatoes and apple pie have been staples for many of us, for some of us comfort food may include a delicious gooey lasagna, a curry or borscht.
We tend to love the foods we remember our mothers making. Memories of these foods take us back to our youth and our roots.
According to the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign Food and Brand Lab, a group who has researched comfort food trends extensively, our choice of favorite comfort foods also varies according to our age and sex.
Young adults tend to favor ice cream and cookies when they reach for comfort food while 35-54 year old adults chose soup, pizza and pasta as their comfort food favorites. The 55 plus age group named soup and mashed potatoes as top choices.
The top comfort foods that were chosen by men as a group include ice cream, soup, pizza and pasta. Women selected sweeter items, with ice cream, chocolate and cookies topping their list of preferred comfort foods.
Our Top Comfort Food Choices Were Found To Be:
(Click on each one to go to a great recipe for that food)
- Roast chicken and beef
- Italian Tomato Sauce
- Chicken pot pies
- Mashed potatoes
- Cole slaw
- Potato salad
- Macaroni and cheese
- Biscuits and scones
- Beef stew
- Fruit pies
- Chocolate chip cookies
Experts in comfort food trends explain the comfort food phenomenon by saying that, while we are a generation that leads very busy lives and are going out to eat more frequently, we are also craving the foods we grew up with.
Food store owners have noticed a growing number of shoppers cooking from scratch, although, unlike the past, these shoppers are cooking mainly on weekends.
People are expressing an increased interest in enjoying their homes and entertaining at home. The popularity of home themed television shows, especially food and cooking shows, reflects this interest.
There is a renewed interest in cooking everything, from party food recipes to home baking, to slow cooked roasts with all the trimmings.
People are also travelling the world more and have the world of food brought to their homes every day through cooking shows. So we’re becoming more interested in international foods and how to prepare them.
We are more open to new experiences and have a desire to experience different tastes. Sometimes that takes the form of tastes from around the world. Sometimes it is expressed through the familiar foods we love, often made with a new twist or an extra bit of pizzazz. So we have things like garlic mashed potatoes, 4 cheese macaroni and cheese and thin crust gourmet pizzas and for a bit of change something like curried chicken or pad Thai.
We are also expressing a desire to make healthy food choices. With aging baby boomers creating a bulge in our populations, healthy lifestyle trends are starting to be featured front and center.
What we seem to be saying is that we want fewer calories but all the taste, healthier eating with the comforts of our favorite foods. So how do we combine the comfort food trends we love with the healthier lifestyle choices we want to make?
Many of us are looking for ways to turn our comfort food favorites into healthier choices. Cooking shows, magazines and cookbooks feature variations on traditional comfort foods, now made with a lower fat content and fewer calories.
We are tweaking great recipes from the past in ways that maintain the taste but forgo some of the fat, unhealthy carbs and sugar content.
Instead of eating a nice fat cheeseburger, we’re more often opting for a veggie burger or grilled chicken breast on a whole wheat roll. And while most of us are still eating our favorite comfort foods, maybe it’s just a little less often.
Sometimes we’ll decide to share that piece of chocolate cheesecake so we still get the taste but not the pounds.
New comfort food trends show us going back to our roots but with a few wonderful, tasty twists along the way.
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