Over my many years as a health coach and nutritionist, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the words comfort food + healthy in the same sentence from any of my clients.  This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, but what it does mean is that there is a huge perception that unhealthy foods, such as mac + cheese, chips, cookies, casseroles and so much more, are what brings us comfort.  The sad reality is that when we often turn to comfort foods, during times of stress, anxiety, or when we simply just need to feel more at home, these foods are not comforting our cells + bodies like we need them to.  

When we think about comfort foods, we want to choose foods that are going to help fuel, nourish, and replenish the body during these times that may be a little more challenging in our lives.  So instead of grabbing food that will rob you of energy + leave you hungry 1-2 hours later, let’s talk about the 3 Holistic Principles of Comfort Foods that actually will comfort + nourish you!

3 Holistic Principles of Comfort Foods

  • Grounding Foods
    • We want foods that are going to make us feel grounded and close to the earth.  These types of foods are typically your squashes, root vegetables, beets, garlic, proteins, cayenne, ginger, and so many more.  Although they may take longer to cook, they give off an energizing feeling as they grow close to the Earth’s ground + energy. 
  • Warming Foods
    • Warm and cooked foods give us a sense of calm amidst whatever may be going on.  Besides cooked foods, other warming foods include lentils, root vegetables, squashes, garlic, ginger, basil, rosemary, cinnamon, cloves and many more.  
  • Contractive Foods 
    • These types of foods give us feelings of strength + increase both physical and mental power.  Foods that are contractive are kale, spinach, bitter greens, dandelion greens, winter squashes, root + sea vegetables, tamari, miso, beans, salt, protein + many more.  It is these foods that again are energizing to the body + truly going to comfort our nutritional needs.  

As you can see, a lot of the same foods have all three holistic principles of grounding, warming + contractive.  It is these foods that we should start to incorporate and include in our lunches, dinners + breakfasts so that instead of robbing our energy with ice cream, candy, or mac + cheese, we can instead support + increase our energy in times of stress, anxiety, or when we just need to feel like we are at home!

Check out two amazing AND healthy comfort food recipes below that are both grounding, warming + contractive.  Not only did I get to devour these tasty meals but I got to explore two different local + organic farms in the area that supplied me with some of the ingredients!  Check out below what Red Grouse Farms + Freedom Acres Farm are doing for our community! 


Red Grouse Farm is a family owned and operated farm who’s first priorities are protecting the environment and raising animals as nature intended. We farm with regenerative and sustainable practices for our whole 185 acres. Our products include 100% grass feed and finished beef, lamb, goat and rabbits. We also have pasture raised chickens and are well known for our chemical free strawberries. We invite you to come to the farm and see our happy animals and how we are protecting the environment. Stay up to date with what Red Grouse Farms has available for sale on their Facebook Page.


Jon and Dana Schlies farm at Freedom Acres with their 4 children; Isaac, Jacob, Hope, and Lilly. They have 27 acres near Denmark, WI and raise organic, pastured chicken, sell pastured chicken eggs, asparagus, garlic, and a wide variety of garden produce. Jon and Dana have always shared a love for the country life and it slowly developed into a love of growing their own food and herbal medicine too. They believe it’s the best way to raise their children and teach life’s lessons.

Their farm is not certified organic, but they do not use any synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides. The animals eat organic feed and they continually work to feed the garden soil instead of the plants to create a rich, healthy, and diverse ecosystem for strong, healthy plants!

They began their journey to healthy living and organic food when their children were first born and battled with food intolerances. They slowly switched over to eating more organic and locally grown food.

They are constantly reminded how simple living can provide some of the richest rewards in the world. Living closely to the land and stewarding all that God gives them leaves a profound impact on them and is deeply rewarding. They call themselves very blessed to live in a region of abundant food and it gives them great satisfaction to provide nourishing food for their family and customers.

They sell direct from the farm, as well as to Sweet Willow Herbal Co-Op in De Pere and Full Circle Community Farm in Seymour.

Dana has also developed a love for herbal medicine and creates and sells herbal salves, as well as other handmade body care items from the farm. She also shares her favorite healthy food and herbal recipes on her website www.rusticfarmlife.com. You can also check them out at their Facebook Page + Instagram page for more inspiration to raise a healthy + happy family!

Mac + Cheese

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Author: Megan Van Pay


  • 4 cups 4 cups Butternut Squash ** (peeled, seeded and sliced into 1 inch cubes)
  • ½ Sweet Onion
  • 2 cloves Garlic (cloves, whole)
  • 2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Almonds
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 cup Cashews
  • 2 tbsp. Nutritional Yeast
  • 2 tbsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 4 Cups Brown Rice (or Gluten Free Pasta!)


  • Preheat oven to 420ºF (216ºC).
  • Place butternut squash, sweet onion and garlic cloves in a large mixing bowl. Add olive oil, season with a bit of sea salt and pepper and mix well. Transfer onto a large foil-lined baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
  • Now let’s make the “breadcrumbs”. In a food processor, combine the almonds, garlic powder and onion powder. Pulse until almonds are coarsely chopped. Set aside.
  • In a blender, add cashews, nutritional yeast, sea salt and water. Blend until a creamy consistency forms. Now add in the roasted butternut squash and onion mix and blend until smooth.
  • Reduce oven to 350ºF (177ºC).
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook brown rice macaroni as per the directions on the package. When finished cooking, strain and run under cold water immediately to prevent from overcooking.
  • In a large bowl, mix together cooked macaroni and “cheese” sauce. Toss until well coated then transfer into a casserole dish. Top with almond breadcrumbs and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from oven. Let cool for 10 minutes. Spoon into bowls. Devour.


** Check out Freedom Acres Farm to get these items fresh + straight from the garden.

Basil + Rosemary Steaks

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Author: Megan Van Pay


  • ½ Cup  Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp. 2 Fresh Rosemary Sprigs (or tbsp. Dried Rosemary)
  • 10-12 Basil Leaves (torn)
  • 1 tbsp. Salt & Pepper
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 4 Cloves Garlic (thinly sliced)
  • 1 lbs. New York Strip Steak


  • Combine all ingredients and marinate for at least 30 minutes or as long as 6 hours.
  • Remove bay leaf before cooking.
  • Place your steaks on the grill + cook for 4-10 minutes on each side depending on your desired doneness.
  • Serve warm with the Mac + Cheese.


* Check out Red Grouse Farms to get some amazing New York Strip Steaks + many other cuts of organic meat for grilling.

You can find more great recipes and content on my website Grateful Plates on on my Facebook.

Reposted from: https://grateful-plates.com/2020/10/06/redefining-comfort-food-mac-cheese-with-steaks/