Sweet, Savoury And Sinful: Can Comfort Food Ever Really Be Healthy?

I wish I was the sort of person who turned to a big bowl of salad when times were tough.

But when the rain is falling, the wind is blowing and the weather is generally manky, I just don't crave kale. Or grilled fish and raw vegetables. Or even quinoa. No, what I want is STODGE. Or at least, something warm and savoury and delicious, preferably containing cheese.

That's the thing about comfort food - it's not usually very healthy. There are some who crave sugar and sweet treats when times are tough, but I want something savoury. And that doesn't necessarily mean healthy, as anyone who has seen me put away half a tube of Pringles and M&S sour cream dip in a single sitting will know. I want gorgeous spicy, creamy curries and naan bread laced with garlic and butter (preferably at this restaurant, if I'm feeling rich). I want a big bowl of Nigel Slater's roast chicken risotto. I want Sophie Dahl's grilled salmon (healthy!) served with onions baked in cream and parmasan cheese (not healthy, but incredibly tasty).

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The most healthy items in my comfort food list are, first of all, this delicious lentil casserole. As presented by the BBC Good Food website, it actually is pretty healthy. But it's meant to be made with skinless chicken thighs, and do you know how hard it is to get hold of free range chicken thighs? The answer is, surprisingly difficult. And even when you get them, you generally have to skin them.

So I tend to make it with sausages from my local butcher instead, which are very tasty but which I'm pretty sure undo all the healthiness of all those little lentils. The other vaguely healthy thing I turn to in times of need is chicken fajita with lots of avocado, though I might undo the healthiness of the chicken and freshly made salsa by adding large dollops of Greek yoghurt or sour cream.


The thing is, it's not like I don't like healthy food. I actually love non-creamy stir-fries, and when I make a curry at home, I serve it with brown rice and I always cook wholemeal pasta.

I'll just have ALL the sweets. I'll just have ALL the sweets.

But on those days when the world seems like a dark and dismal place, and it feels like it's been raining non-stop for about five years, I know what I really want to eat. And what I really want to eat is my mother's incredibly delicious (non-wholemeal) pasta bake, made with a rich ragu and a gorgeously savoury cheese sauce, served with some garlic bread and a green salad (see, healthy!) on the side.

So what dishes do you turn to for culinary comfort? Are you hanging out for your weekend takeaway treat or do you reach for the pick n mix? Is it possible to find comforting food that won't cause a heart attack? And if so, please, share it here!

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