Conscious Comfort

What’s your ideal comfort food?  You know, that dish you come back to, time & time again, when both your body & soul are searching for nourishment?

For years, my go-to comfort food was macaroni & cheese.  No, not that orange, powdery “food” from a box—this was the real deal.  Pasta shells with a blend of cheeses, milk & butter, baked to perfection with a crispy breaded top.  I piled it high on my plate and stuffed my belly as often as I had the chance.

There came a day when I realized I couldn’t touch this dish anymore.  I spent my early 20’s kicking a major case of candida, and through that journey, I gained massive insight into all aspects of my life.  As I played around with my diet, I discovered something that I almost couldn’t believe—or didn’t want to believe.  It turns out, I’m highly intolerant to dairy.

Those 3 day, vomit-inducing migraines I’d been suffering from my whole life?  Dairy.  That acne I’d been dealing with since I was 12?  Dairy.  All it took was a simple elimination diet to wake me up.

I didn’t need any convincing to eliminate dairy from my diet.  Nothing tastes good enough to endure the pain of a migraine.  Not even that luscious mac & cheese.

Since then, my diet has has dramatically shifted and my idea of comfort food has been redefined.  Comfort foods are those that offer both instant body & soul satisfaction as well as long term nourishment.

These foods vary for me from season to season, but in winter, comfort foods seems especially necessary.  I search for foods that warm me to my core and provide me with energy to roll through those days when I’d rather be hibernating.

Currently, I find deep comfort in a hot bowl of miso soup.  It couldn’t be simpler, but it provides my body with that same feeling I used to get from my mac & cheese—warmth, coziness and nourishment.

You can enjoy this as a simple broth or add some heartiness with quinoa, brown rice, kelp noodles, or veggies.  It’s important not to cook the miso or you’ll risk killing the beneficial probiotic cultures.  I also prefer the garlic and ginger to remain raw, which helps to keep our immune systems strong during the winter months.

Miso Soup for One

*Place 4 cloves of garlic and a 1/2″x3″ piece of peeled ginger in a food processor.  Process until finely chopped.  Keep in the refrigerator to make miso soup whenever you need it!  Makes 2 tablespoons.

Optional additions

  • 1/2 teaspoon dulse or kelp flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sliced scallions
  • 1/4 cup cooked quinoa or brown rice
  • 1/4 cup veggies of choice
  • 1 handful kelp noodles

Heat the water on the stove (never microwave).  Do not boil.  You’re aiming for the temperature that makes tea perfectly sip-able but still hot.  Pour into a bowl and stir in the garlic-ginger blend & miso.  Whisk a bit with a fork until there are no miso clumps remaining.  Stir in any other desired ingredients and serve immediately.

What’s your go-to comfort food?  Has it evolved over time?  Share with us!


Natalia is a shamanic practitioner and pure food chef working holistically to guide clients towards thriving health and unwavering happiness. She is currently living & loving in Santa Cruz, CA where she maintains her Shamanic Healing practice and hosts monthly Sacred Food & Ceremony gatherings. Learn more at NataliaKW.com.

Comments

25 Responses to “Conscious Comfort”

  1. Jacque says:

    Cereal. Cold, crunchy cereal. When I was away for college, the first thing I would do upon arriving home for breaks was eat cereal. Multiple bowls. Lucky Charms, Pops, Fruity Pebbles. With cow’s milk. Yes, my comfort food has evolved also. These days I enjoy simple sprouted, dehydrated buckwheat groats with walnut milk. The cold crunch is still good for my soul, and much better for my body!

    • Natalia says:

      Oh, yes Jacque! Cereal is one of those things that has followed me through all evolutions of my diet. I love raw granolas with nut milk, so yummy! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Ariane says:

    Hello Natalia,

    Thank you for sharing your story!

    Instead of a full meal, my comfort food used to be sugar in any of its forms (which was not very healthy). Since I experienced digestive issues I dramaticaly changed my diet to mostly raw food. My new comfort food is without any doubt avocado, rich and creamy! In winter it is particularely appreciated :)

    Thanks for the miso soup recipe, I’m planning to make some.

    Ariane

  3. paul says:

    it was and still is pizza for me. although it’s now morphed into a homemade gluten-free crust, with homemade tomato sauce and arugula pesto, topped with lots of veggies and daiya “cheese”. and it’s just as comforting as a “standard” pizza for me!

  4. Lou says:

    I love miso… when I was pregnant I was obsessed with using it as a spread on sprouted bread! I love trying all the different varieties… dark, light, soy, barely, brown rice – so many to play around with. I enjoy my miso with shitake mushroom, wakame, garlic and pickled ginger…. so so comforting.

    My favourite comfort meal is raw oats with rice milk, cinnamon, tahini, dried figs and walnuts…. my little bowl of joy :) Best enjoyed while super cosy in bed with a good book!

  5. Nicole says:

    Mmmmm… comfort food. I always think of something warm and filling and a bit sentimental. Lasagna would be high on my list of favs, or any cheesy pasta. Mashed potatoes, and my mom’s blueberry pie. We used to pick the berries fresh.
    Now, I go for coconut curry dishes with tofu and potatoes, since cheese is out of the equasion.
    I’d love to hear more about how raw food helped your migraines. Since transitioning to being vegan, I’ve started getting them, and I suspect that its something I’m consuming more of. What was your experience?

    • Natalia says:

      Hi Nicole! Sorry to hear you’ve been getting migraines! From my experience, migraines are often caused by one of the major food allergens (dairy, gluten, corn, soy), or triggers like wine or chocolate. Also blood sugar drops and hormone changes. Any of this speak to your current lifestyle? Obviously I know you’re not doing dairy, but perhaps gluten or soy? Eliminating some of these foods for a few weeks then reintroducing often gives major insight. This is the type of work I love doing with clients, finding out foods that work & foods that don’t! It makes all the difference. I hope you can figure out your trigger fast & suffer no more!
      xo!

      • Nicole says:

        Thanks Natalia! You totally nailed some potential things for me. I’m hypoglycemic, and when I get up early for work I often skip breakfast since I’m not hungry yet. Maybe I’ll start juicing before bed so I’ve got something good to start the day without eating anything heavy.
        My soy intake has increased, so I’ll test that out. I did have a headache last week while eating avocado, but I’m hoping that was just fluke. Avocado is my favorite healthy fat when I’m doing lots of raw foods. Raw onions are definately a trigger, so I avoid those.
        I’ve found that doTerra essential peppermint oil helps mild ones too. They have great natural healing products, but severe ones are a job for modern medicine.
        Thanks again for the tips! I love what you’re doing with Nurishing Our Radiance and your wellness programs. You are such and inspiration! <3

        • Natalia says:

          You’re so welcome! I love your juicing idea for your early mornings. For me, it’s really important to make sure I don’t let my blood sugar drop. I do best with a little fat to keep me stable, so the first thing I have in the am is usually a green smoothie with coconut oil & hemp. You might want to try something like that too, made at night, to sip on as soon as you feel morning hunger. Let me know how it all goes. Ps- your website looks amazing. The photos are stunning! xo!

          • Nicole says:

            Oooh! That’s a great tip. I’ll have to try that, especially hemp for protein to balance out the sugar a little, then I’ll be satisfied longer on long busy days. I’ll let you know how it goes. :)
            PS-Thank you! <3

  6. edith says:

    i have to agree with paul. it’s pizza. now i have it similar to his. but i love the version you posted awhile back for the raw pizza. also, when the new leaf is in town, agneiszka makes a pretty bomb raw pizza here in portland. avocados and chickpeas also are comforting to me.

  7. Janelle says:

    Nice post! Yes, I remember those days (even the Kraft Mac & Cheese days). Now that I’m gluten, dairy, egg, cane sugar, and several other foods free, I too have redefined my comfort foods. My comfort food is oddly … beans, especially for breakfast. They are so filling and when mixed with salsa and greans and a dollop of avocado they make a great breakfast. Thanks for asking! Loving getting to know you and your practice better.

    • Natalia says:

      Hi Janelle! I feel that I can truly understand the beans for comfort! When I was trying to figure out my candida situation, I was eating a very limited diet, but beans were allowed. I felt so nourished by them. Thanks so much for reading & sharing!

  8. tanya says:

    MMMMM, miso ;) I’ll have to try that, thank you! I’ve been using miso paste for raw sushi and it is amazing ;) I bet this will be awesome too.
    My comfort food has always been fried potatoes ;) Not much you can improve on here, because baked is yummy, but not the same ;) One thing I did was make it organic and use coconut oil to fry.. organic onions and real salt ;) That’s about it.

    • Natalia says:

      Hi Tanya! You totally improved your comfort food! Organic is so important for potatoes and coconut oil is the healthiest if you’re going to fry. This is exactly my point–there’s always a way to make it healthier and not everything has to be tossed out. thanks for sharing!

  9. Calliope says:

    Hi Natalia! I’ve never followed blogs, however, I found myself straying from my core beliefs and practices that have kept me healthy and SANE for the past decade…. turned to the web for some inspiration and alas, found you! Thanks, for all your energy and efforts, and I love this topic. Miso soup became a comfort food to me as an adult, for two years it was a favorite breakfast, “fast food” that could be carried around and sipped, NUM NUM. Something I loved as a kid that I revamped in my more mature years, is a great Southern standard of beans, greens, and cornbread! I totally gotta have my greens, now with gobs of olive oil and garlic instead of fatback…. Vegan corn muffins dripping with coconut oil… Anyway, getting hungry(great photos, btw), so thanks again, and I look forward to reading more! Peace

    • Natalia says:

      Hi Calliope! So glad you’re hear reading along! Gosh, your comfort food is sounding really good on a chilly day! Love how you adapted it to fit your healthy life! Be well!

  10. Cassie says:

    Hi Natalia!

    I live in Massachusetts and comfort foods are a definite must here in the winter months. My recent favorite? Sweat Potatoes! Toss in coconut oil, your favorite spices/herbs, garlic/ginger, and some salt and pepp and bake. mmmm. Its the best and it keeps my nice and warm and happy :)

    • Natalia says:

      Mmm! Perfect Cassie! I’ve been treating myself to sweet potatoes as well and agree they are mega comforting! In fact, I’m going to have one with a salad for dinner tonight!

  11. I love your site! Here’s my recipe for vegan Mac ‘n Cheese: http://bit.ly/NlTlgu, made with whole-foods ingredients. It’s from my award-winning column, “Veganize It!” in VegNews Magazine. Enjoy and keep up your beautiful work! =)

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