I woke up today hungry for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. That isn’t terribly unusual for me, since this is one of my favorite quick foods. I often will eat a PBJ for breakfast, since it is fairly quick and, made on whole wheat bread, has enough substance to get me through the morning until lunch. Today, however, I was craving comfort. I woke up too early, and in pain, and just felt generally grumpy. I wanted the soothing effect of a food I remember fondly from childhood onward.
I’ll readily admit that eating for comfort isn’t a great habit. However, it does actually work as a short term pick me up, which is probably why I continue to do it. So since I was eating for comfort this morning I thought I would write about my favorite comfort foods and see if that helped cheer me up (it did, although I ate the PBJ first, so it’s not a very good experiment). Here’s a list of my top five comfort foods. What are some of yours?
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches. These have to be made in a specific way to count as a comfort food for me. The bread needs to be whole wheat but not too seedy or grainy; the texture should be somewhat soft. Low calorie bread does not cut it here. The peanut butter should be smooth and sweet, no organic peanut butter allowed. It needs to have that store bought taste. For jelly I prefer marmalade or cherry; strawberry will do in a pinch. Grape is just not right; I don’t know why but it doesn’t have the same comfort value. Finally, the sandwich needs to be cut in half, in rectangles.
Campbell’s Vegetarian Vegetable Soup. This is the classic alphabet noodle soup. I have tried all kinds of store brands and they just don’t measure up. I don’t like the kind with beef stock either. I usually eat this with the next comfort food on the list, making a comfort meal. This comfort food I usually don’t feel too guilty about, since at least it contains a serving of vegetables along with all the salt.
Grilled Cheese Sandwich. I’m not quite as particular about how the grilled cheese sandwich is made as I am about the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. All kinds of breads are acceptable; sourdough, wheat, and pumpernickel are big favorites of mine. For cheese I usually prefer a colby-jack or mild cheddar, but sometimes I like to spice things up with a pepper-jack. Occasionally I’ll add in extras like a slice of tomato or bacon, but for real comfort food I will usually just stick with cheese. I like to butter the bread before placing it in the skillet but melting the butter in the skillet first works fine. The sandwich should be toasted on both sides but not burned, and it has to be cut in half in triangles.
Chocolate Chip Cookies. I definitely prefer homemade cookies but store bought can do in a pinch. Chewy is preferable to crunchy in my book, and I like just plain chocolate chip cookies, without fancy add-ins like macadamia nuts or caramel chips. M&M’s are fine, since they are really just a sugar shell coated chocolate chip, and add a fun pop of color.
Macaroni and Cheese. Again, homemade is the best with the slightly crunchy breadcrumb topping over the gooey cheese and noodles. Unfortunately, homemade macaroni and cheese is a lot of work. Annie’s macaroni and cheese (I prefer the classic kind) is quite good, although it is still not very good for you. Then again, health is not the point of comfort foods, right? When I eat macaroni and cheese I like to have fish sticks with them, but the fish sticks alone are not comfort food.