Feel Good Food
How, exactly, does one define “feel-good food”? In my book feel-good food is characterized by the…good feeling you get after eating. Ok, ok: DUH. But feeling good after eating is no small feat! We can probably agree, give or take a few particulars, that many of the following are necessary components to this much-desired post-meal state:
1. Deliciousness. Not the most sophisticated word perhaps, but you know exactly what it means: must taste awesome.
2. Full Belly. But not too full, right? You want to hit that perfect state between wanting more food and rubbing the new food baby growing inside you. It may be more accurate to call this one Satisfied Belly.
3. Warmth. Especially if it’s winter, you need a little heat somewhere in your meal to get that truly GOOD, hunker down, snuggle-up to watch a movie feeling.
4. Color. There’s something about a colorful plate that makes eating it an absolute delight.
5. Nutrition. Food doesn’t feel as good if you can’t see and feel the protein, fiber, and vitamins you’re getting from it. On the flip side, food feels bad when you can see/feel the fat and sugar you’re consuming. Your stomach sinks and bloats and slows you down. You want to step lightly after a meal! Now that is a good feeling.
All that being said, here are a few of my favorite feel-good foods:
Sweet Potatoes—Grilled, roasted, mashed: doesn’t matter. All that matters is that a vibrantly orange, delicious and nutritious vegetable is sitting on the plate in front of you, and it’s alllllll yours. Since sweet potatoes can sometimes be a heavy dish, I like to pair it with a light salad. A salad made of the following ingredients is a perfect complement to sweet potatoes: mixed greens, dried cranberries, candied walnuts or sliced almonds, feta or goat cheese, sprouts, and a lemon-oil dressing (mostly lemon) with salt, pepper, and a bit of garlic. Yum!
Oatmeal—Made on the stove, mind you, not the microwave. A friend of mine once watched me microwave oatmeal for breakfast and said, “Jackie, you might as well just eat Wonderbread for all the nutrients you’ll be getting out of that now.” The oats should be plain, unflavored, whole rolled oats, not packets of Quaker’s Apple-and Cinnamon oatmeal. Bring a small pot of water, cinnamon, and half a cut-up banana (to sweeten the water) to a boil. Add a half-cup of whole rolled oats and cook 5-10 minutes until the oats are soft but not too mushy. Add nuts (I like sliced almonds), dried fruit (like craisins or raisins), and the other half of your banana. Sprinkle some cinnamon on top, and enjoy!
Rice and Beans—The perfect combo of a grain and a legume to create a whole protein (fellow vegetarians will know what I mean!). But aside from the nutrition, this is a dish that tastes good always. You can make it salty, spicy (Frank’s Red Hot is my favorite). You can scoop them up with tortilla chips or celery (weird, I know, but it’s a delicious alternative to corn chips). Sprinkle a little cheddar cheese on top, or mix it in with a salad. Any way you choose to do it, you can’t go wrong! The important thing is you definitely feel full and wonderful after this treat.
Sauteed Vegetables—Yellow squash, zucchini, onions, peppers, carrots, tomatoes….maybe even some fennel or spinach. Throw them in a pan (onions and peppers first) with some olive oil, fresh crushed garlic, salt and pepper, and cook til they’re tender! Now, if we’re talking colorful, filling, warm, nutritious, and great taste, this dish is the mother of them all. It feels so good.
Pizza—Yeah, yeah, I know. It breaks all the feel-good “rules,” but I couldn’t resist! Who doesn’t love a good ol’ slice of cheesy delicious pizza?? I like spinach, feta and tomatoes on mine…
Add to this little list! Share your favorite feel-good food, below…