Regardless of where we live or our cultural background, comfort food is often our relief from the stresses of the outside world. In today's economic recession, comfort food can provide us with a sense of security and positive memories of our childhood. A recent survey identified sweets and ethic foods as America's top choices, choices that are not especially healthy! This month on  "Its About You', Patricia Margolis, Hart County Extension Agent for Family & Consumer Sciences  provides some insights and recipe tips on how to enjoy those "feel good" food and still feel healthy!

Core Messages

  • Food is a focal point of celebrations and traditions in any culture. The basic ingredients are usually healthy foods, but the preparation methods change the caloric level. For example, dried beans and vegetables are staples in Southern food/soul food cooking, but when prepared with the traditional animal fats, the calorie level changes!
  • Ethic cultures, such as a Hispanic, use beans, dairy and corn products as core ingredients in the diet, but if beans and protein foods are fried, full fat dairy products used and animal fats added to breads, the "healthy quotient" is diminished. Ethic foods can be enjoyed with some tweaking of preparation methods.
  • Take the three step approach to adapting recipes.
    • Look for those "problem" ingredients that make a recipe high in fat, cholesterol or sodium.
    • Find low-fat or low-sodium substitutions to replace these ingredients. You can reduce the amount of the ingredient or substitute a similar ingredient that is healthier for you. Sometimes you can eliminate the unhealthy ingredient completely.
    • Change your method of food preparation. For instance, instead of deep fat frying, try boiling.
  • Comfort foods can become a solution rather than a cause for the high incidences of heart disease, hypertension, and obesity found in Kentucky and throughout the US. Based on 2005-06 statistics, Kentucky ranks in the "top 10" for prevalence of these diseases; 11th in hypertension, 9th in high cholesterol, and 7th in diabetes.
  • Prevalence of chronic disease can be higher in some ethic populations;
    • Compared to the general population, African Americans are disproportionately affected by diabetes. For example, one in four African American women over 55 years of age has diabetes.
    • Approximately 2.5 million Hispanic/Latino Americans over the age of 20 have diabetes and are at increased risk for serious complications such as kidney disease, blindness, and amputations.
  • The economic cost of chronic diseases affects everyone. Start a new tradition for 2009-make comfort food, healthy food!