Replicating Comfort Food, Paleo Style

Comfort Food.

What does the phrase bring to mind?

I suppose it’s different for everyone.  For some, it’s a warm cup of soup when they’re feeling under the weather physically, and for others, it’s a trip down memory lane to a childhood  treat of having an ice cream cone in the summer after winning a ball game.

The point is, there is obviously a huge correlation between fond nostalgia pertaining to certain foods eaten on particular occasions that we yearn for when something in the present may not be as we want it to.

One food, or drink, rather, that fits that bill for me, is a cup of coffee.  And not in the way that I grew up drinking it.  Far from it, actually!

I’ve blogged before about the fact that I love my black espresso.  An admitted coffee snob, I find myself referring to this cuppa with positive adjectives and connotations such as ‘let’s have a lovely cuppa coffee’ and ‘I’ll get started writing straight away as soon as I pull a nice doppio from the Rancilio’.

But how did this all get started?

I began drinking coffee with my mom when I was a teenager.  Granted, the coffee she drank (and still does, incidentally) is not good coffee. It’s pre-ground and comes in a metal canister.  Further, it wasn’t a black coffee that she’d have, it was a coffee with cream and sugar.  

So, I, too, learned to drink my coffee that way, but honestly, back then, it was more like a cup of warm milk with sugar and some coffee mixed in.

We’d watch a little television together while we had our coffee, and that was it.  Plain and simple, but a happy memory nonetheless.   

One might say I’m lucky in that this little indulgence does have a place in Paleo ; not only without consequence but with benefits, so I’m able to continue to enjoy this love of mine and carry that happy little memory in my mind as well.

But what’s one to do if the thought of comfort food is not as easy to replicate into Paleo friendly terms?  Macaroni and cheese from  a box, or fried chicken and cornbread or a giant ice cream sundae with a brownie aren’t exactly part and parcel of Paleo living.

Last week, when I wrote about a challenge from a reader asking for help with coming up with a Paleo version of his cream puff dream, it struck me to try and break down what it was exactly that he missed.  Was it the flavor?  If so, what flavor?  Texture?  Smell?  We were able to nail down the fact that it was the vanilla flavor he liked as well as the airy feel of the pastry.

That’s my best suggestion for you as well.  Have a think about what components trigger those memories for you and get to work at creating our own Paleo version of them.

If you’ve found Paleo due to a realization that you have Celiac, for example, I’d hardly think you’d want to stray from Paleo’s gluten free living in favor of a trip down memory lane to eat your grandma’s special fettuccini alfredo.  You might, however, realize that it was the creamy feel and garlicky flavor of the sauce you’re coveting, and find you can do an equally nice job by concocting a puree of a similar profile, without the dairy.

No, it won’t be the same as the original, but you also won’t risk feeling ill after eating it for what could potentially be days on end.

Even if you’re someone who has gone to the trouble of testing out how certain non Paleo foods react with your body and have found that you don’t feel ill after eating them, it’s still worth while to at least play around with recreating the nostalgic food.  Who knows?  You might even like it better!