With the cooler temps of fall approaching, the desire for comfort food begins. The phrase “comfort food” has been around at least as early as 1966. In all of its historical deliciousness, comfort food is nourishing to the body and soul, but it can also can play a role in emotional eating. Our physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual health are intertwined. Fueling your soul on all levels can lead to happiness and satisfaction. Comfort food can be an influential part of this formula, along with balance, variety and moderation in all things.

When it comes to creating comfort and satisfaction around food, choose plant-based meals; that means, loads of fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean protein. And don’t forget to add that glass of wine 🍷. Low fat foods have their place, but sometimes going with less is more works just as well. Find your happy balance. There is no such thing as a “diet” or diet foods. There is just food. Delicious, wholesome food. Choose healthy daily living behaviors. Ignore the images of perfection around you. No body is perfect.

So bring on the comfort of fall with nourishing foods and a comfortable spirit, but find the balance that makes you smile. Life is about choices. Choose your path. Create your happiness from the food you eat, the air you breathe, the movements you take, the people you surround yourself with. There are a lot of choices out there. Choose you.🥰

Photo by Izabela Rutkowski on Unsplash

breakfast: CARROT MUFFINS
These tasty muffins are filled with carrots, banana and whole grains, to power up those school mornings or snack times. They are high in fiber, helping to keep you (and/or your student(s)) full for longer. Adding some natural jam or light spread on top makes these a favorite in my house.

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots (about 3–4 large carrots)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup steel cut oats
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup nonfat yogurt, plain
1 mashed banana
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup honey
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Nonstick cooking spray

PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use nonstick muffin pan or paper liners and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine the flour, oats, allspice, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda in a large mixing bowl and stir to blend. Make a well in the center. In a separate small bowl, combine the carrots, yogurt, banana, orange juice, honey, oil and lemon juice. Pour into the well in the dry ingredients. Blend gently and thoroughly, until all of the ingredients completely combined. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling them about 3/4 to the top.

Place muffin tray in oven and bake for about 22–25 minutes, or until muffins begin to pull away from the sides. Cool in pan. Serve warm with a tasty topping. Makes 12 muffins.

Photo by happinessishomemade

lunch: MINI CARAMELIZED ONION QUICHE
Nothing quite says comfort like a quiche among friends👩‍❤️‍👩, especially when served with wine. Quiche can be anything you want it to be — sweet, savory, mini, pie-size, vegetarian, meaty, spicy. Whatever your flavor, just go light on the crust. A quiche crust could be made with phyllo dough, just a touch of crust on top, or without a crust at all.

INGREDIENTS
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 cups thinly sliced sweet onions
3/4 cup evaporated nonfat milk
3/4 cup nonfat milk
3 whole eggs (or egg substitute equivalents)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup grated provolone cheese
6 phyllo dough sheets, thawed
Nonstick cooking spray

PREPARATION
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place a sheet of phyllo dough on parchment paper. Lightly spray with oil, then place another sheet on top. Repeat layering until you have 6 sheets stacked up. Using a sharp knife, cut the stack into 12 equal pieces. Press each piece into the cups of a muffin tin. Bake for about 13–15 minutes (for regular muffin tin size, 8–10 minutes for mini), or until golden brown. Keep an eye on the oven to make sure they don’t burn. *If this part sounds like a drag, buy those pre-made ones!

While the cups are baking, heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently until very soft and caramelized, about 12–15 minutes. Remove the onions from the pan with a slotted spoon and put aside.

Whisk together the evaporated milk, milk, eggs, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Stir in the onions and cheese. Pour into prepared shells. Bake 18–20 minutes, or until egg is set. Remove and let sit for 10–15 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 24 mini quiches; approximately 4 lunchtime servings. *Crustless option: Skip the phyllo dough and pour mixture into a 9-inch pie pan coated nonstick cooking spray. Bake 40–45 minutes, or until set.

dinner: GREEN CHILE CHICKEN ENCHILADAS
Tex Mex style enchiladas are a smoky, cheesy way to use up your leftover chicken (feel fee to substitute tofu, shrimp, beans, etc). Their combination of protein, veggies and whole grains are quite the comforting, satisfying combination.

INGREDIENTS
2 1/2 cups shredded chicken
1/4 cup onions, diced
1/4 cup green chiles, diced
1 cup cheddar jack cheese, shredded, separated
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
8 corn tortillas (or whole wheat)
Nonstick cooking spray
1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce (homemade or store-bought)
Topping options: fresh cilantro, fresh chives, avocado, jalapeño peppers

PREPARATION
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Coat a 2-quart size baking dish with cook spray. Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of dish. Combine the shredded chicken, onion, green chiles and half of the cheese in a bowl and set aside.

Place tortillas on a microwave-safe plate. Cover with a damp paper towel and heat in microwave for about 40 seconds. Fill tortilla with about 1/4 cup of filling. Then roll it up and place seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with all of the tortillas and filling. Pour the sauce over the tortillas, using a spoon to spread it evenly. Top with remaining cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Makes 4–5 servings.

Even today, it always comes down to the simplicity of rock and roll.~Eddie Van Halen

#EddieVanHalen RIP

For comments, thoughts, requests or anything else you feel the need to share, please do: amysmargulies@gmail.com

A nutrition expert and middle child, I am writing to promote health and wellbeing, recipes and tips in a relatable, slightly rebellious fashion.