Finding Comfort in Cooking


Shawanda Evans, Contributing Journalist

Comfort foods are defined as foods that are often rich, soft and creamy, and when consumed provide feelings of well- being.  While comfort foods are known to have a high caloric, sugar or carbohydrate base, they are the perfect source of tranquility during unprecedented times such as our current pandemic state.  Generally, many people are consuming more of these nostalgic favorites, such as, Instagram worthy, ooey- gooey grilled cheese sandwiches and the beginning of the pandemic’s most searched recipe, banana bread.  As many people seek comforting recipes or are summoned to bring their “inner foodie” to life, the closing of an abundance of restaurants during the pandemic have forced many people to become “home chefs” (if they weren’t already). Many people are encouraged to find the skills to prepare time and cost- effective meals that provide a source of nourishment for not only their bodies, but their souls as well. 

As a proud foodie who began her culinary journey with her first ham and egg creation as a young child, my love for home-cooked comfort foods began long before the pandemic. As a FACS Teacher, I am asked very often, “Do you cook a lot at home?” My answer is honestly always with a side of smirk, “Of course I do!” After all, what kind of FACS Teacher would I be if I did not practice the “home- cooking is much better for you” speech that I give to my students?  

So, now that you are aware of my firm stance on home-cooking, go ahead and ask me the follow- up question to the ones stated previously “Which foods have you been cooking during the pandemic?” In the very famous words of Chef Emeril Lagasse, “Bam, let’s kick it up a notch” and ask me about the comfort foods that I find myself preparing and eating during the pandemic. My answers would lie between healthy, quick, and easy foods while also trying to find comfort in “good for you foods.” Here are some examples of my favorite pandemic comfort foods:

  • Fruits – pineapple is my comforting favorite to soothe my sweet tooth; citrus fruits to boost my immune system (I love Cuties); during the pandemic I tried cotton candy grapes for the first time and fell in love 
  • Vegetables- especially dark leafy greens (i.e. I love mixed greens such as turnip, collards, and mustard) which are full of nutrients; I even love, love Cauliflower Pizza
  • Eggs, cereals and parfaits- my quick and easy , comforting breakfast choices on most days
  • Seafood- my favorite dish is shrimp with broccoli; homemade seafood boils are amazing for a special occasion such as holidays or celebrations: I tried a new type of fish (Chilean Sea Bass) at a new restaurant for my birthday dinner
  • Water- I love it ice cold to satisfy my thirst; add lemon for a refreshing spin
  • Soups- warm and soothing; I love making homemade soups
  • Coffee and tea- I started drinking coffee during the pandemic (my new homemade favorite as I used to despise it); my favorite is green tea which  has excellent health benefits
  • Themed night meals- Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Stir- Fry Saturday for the win!

Comfort foods have taken on a special meaning to many people for various reasons during the current pandemic.  As our “new normal’ invades every aspect of our life these days, preparing and cooking those foods (in my best Marie Kondo voice) which “spark joy”, should also be foods that offer more than just short- lived enjoyment.  As with everything, moderation is the key and finding healthier ways to enjoy those new Costco chicken nuggets (which are “all the rage”) that I became acquainted with during the pandemic is on my to-do-list occasionally. My advice to others (as I am also advising myself) is to try to find heathy ways to indulge in your favorite comfort foods.

Below are pictures of a variety of comfort foods Ms. Evans enjoys preparing.