When the temperatures keep dropping outside, it's time for some winter comfort foods to warm you up. There's just something about a big cup of homemade soup or stew to warm your body and soul when it is cold and dreary outside. What is it about these winter comfort foods that instantly makes us feel better?
Most comfort foods and especially those we enjoy in the winter have a fair share of carbohydrates in them. Think about Mac & Cheese for example which is a popular comfort food year around. It has plenty of starchy pasta in it. Quite a few other foods like lasagna or a big pile of spaghetti have plenty of pasta as well. Other winter comfort foods include rice (think chicken and rice soup) or potatoes (think beef stew or potato soup).
In addition to the carbs in the winter comfort food itself, we often serve it with some sort of bread. If you are making a pot of soup or stew you usually have a batch of biscuits, a cornbread or a loaf of homemade bread ready to serve along side it. This warm bread is a big part of what makes these dishes comfort foods and also adds some more carbs to the dish.
These carbohydrates can cause the human body to release a hormone called serotonin which is know to make you feel happy (along with preventing depression).
Stews and particularly soups have more liquid than other foods. In the winter time with the heat running everywhere you go, it is pretty easy to get dehydrated. Dehydration can cause headaches and I don't know about you, but I tend to get pretty grumpy when my head hurts. Getting that extra liquid from soups may be just enough to prevent this from happening. Not getting enough liquids also tends to make you feel tired and sluggish. Of course you should also attempt to drink some extra water to make sure your body has all the liquid it needs to function properly. But that can be easier said than done. While I'm find drinking cold water when it's warm outside, I just have a hard time getting it down in the cold winter months. In addition to eating plenty of soup, try drinking some warm herbal teas to get in your required eight to ten eight ounce glasses of water.
Last but not least, these winter foods make us more comfortable simply because they are hot. Eating soups and stews warms us up from the inside which is just what the doctor ordered after spending some time in the cold elements outside. Soups and stews are comforting to eat and will quickly bring your core body temperature back up. As an added bonus, you get to warm your cold hands on the bowl. Now that's what I call comfort.
By Susanne Myers