This post is part of a blog collaboration on healthy comfort foods and recipes, as well as thoughts on comforts beyond the kitchen. Links to the other participants’ articles are below my recipe.
With the end of the holiday season comes a return to the daily grind, and with that, higher stress levels. What do you do to find comfort and unwind? My friend Katie from Whole Nourishment has set out to provide approachable tips on this very topic, and has asked me to share my thoughts as well.
I was so excited when Katie reached out to me about a possible collaboration. After discovering her blog over a year ago, I quickly realized that she and I share the same philosophy about nutrition. Katie is a Certified Integrated Nutrition Health Coach who advocates eating a balanced, whole foods diet; like me, she doesn’t prescribe to fad diets or strict regimes. I love reading Katie’s blog for her thoughtful, detailed advice on nutrition, and am constantly learning new things from her. Nutrition tips aside, I also love when she shares snippets of her life in the tiny village of St. Gallen, Switzerland! Katie is working on a series to address how to seek comfort inside and outside of the kitchen. She redefines comfort food to focus on foods that actually make our bodies feel better. “I’ve found that the more broadly I define comfort food, the more it shows up in my every day,” she writes. To read more about Katie’s philosophy, read her post here.
I often find that when I’m in need of comfort food, meals like this Thai red curry with tofu immediately come to mind. I’m drawn to the warming spices, the creaminess of the coconut milk, and the bright colors of the vegetables – especially on dreary, rainy days like the ones we’ve had lately in San Francisco. There’s something to be said about finding comfort from the act of cooking itself, too: when that red curry paste hits the pan and its fragrance wafts up to me, I’m happy. Coming together in about 30 minutes, this is an easy weeknight dinner that I’ve already made several times this winter.
Maybe this isn’t what you’d think of as classic comfort food, but as Katie questions: why can’t we define it to mean something new? While we often have the knee-jerk reaction to reach for unhealthy foods when we are stressed, it only leads us to feel worse afterwards. This meal will leave you feeling nourished and happily full rather than uncomfortably stuffed.
Katie makes the great point that seeking comfort can involve so much more than reaching for food. For her, it can be as simple as cozying up under a blanket her mother-in-law knitted her and watching the fog out the window. For me, it’s spending time with family and friends, cuddling with my kitties, reading a book, or watching a favorite movie. Exercise is also really important for me as a stress reliever, but only if it’s something I truly enjoy like tennis or yoga. Even a walk to clear my head works wonders for me. Everyone is different in this sense, so you have to find what works best for you.
What are your favorite ways to de-stress in and out of the kitchen? I’d love to hear!
- For the tofu:
- 1 package extra-firm tofu (preferably vacuum-packed if you can find it)
- 1 teaspoon peanut oil or vegetable oil
- Pinch of cornstarch
- Pinch of salt
- For the curry:
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil or vegetable oil
- 1 shallot, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 cup sugar snap peas
- 1 14 oz. can of baby corn, drained and cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 8 oz. can of sliced bamboo shoots, drained
- 3 tablespoons of Thai red curry paste
- 1 14 oz. can coconut milk
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
- To serve:
- Grain of choice
- Start by preparing the tofu. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Thinly cut the tofu into about ½ an inch slices. Add to a bowl and drizzle with the oil; use your hands to coat the tofu evenly. Lay out the tofu slices on a baking sheet, adding a small pinch of corn starch to each slice. Lightly sprinkle with salt and bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through. The pieces should be golden and crisp on the outside.
- While the tofu is baking, prepare the curry. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add diced shallot. After 2-3 minutes, add the garlic and ginger; add the pepper, snap peas, baby corn and bamboo shoots about one minute later.
- Let the vegetables cook for five minutes, and then add in the red curry paste. Stir to coat the vegetables, and then add the coconut milk, salt, sugar, and rice wine vinegar. Stir to combine and let simmer for 10 minutes, adding in the tofu once it is baked.
- Serve with a grain of your choice and garnish with fresh cilantro.
Check out these other great blogs for their thoughts on comfort food!
Cinnamon Hot Chocolate |Whole Nourishment
Self-Saucing Cheese & Roasted Vegetable Pasta Bake |Food to Glow
Vegetarian Pho |Highgate Hill Kitchen
MCT Hummus | Sarah Bellum