How fit bodies do comfort food

A trio of cerebral takes on nostalgic favorites

There’s a reason we return to our favorite comfort foods—namely, because they comfort us. From pasta to pizza, we're delighted by the taste but also by the associated happy memories. For example, studies have shown that certain scents evoke feelings of nostalgia, generated by the strong link between scent and memory. Smelling pumpkin pie—before even taking a bite—might bring back memories of spending time with family during the holidays.

Unfortunately, comfort foods are often highly processed and full of sugar. Take cranberry sauce: “When I think of cranberry sauce I can't help but cringe because all I can hear is the sound of that gelatinous mass of preserved, cloyingly sweet, jiggly mystery mold sliding out of a rigged can to which it holds a replicated shape,” says Marc Jacobs’s private chef, Lauren Gerrie.

Not only can healthier interpretations of comfort foods taste better than the original incarnations, they can stimulate those same mental and emotional processes you might (actually) be craving. Here, Gerrie takes three homey foods and modernizes them with creative, healthy flavor combinations. Try her variations on cranberry sauce, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie.

pan seared lemon sole with cranberry salsa

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haricot verts with cashew cream & pickled mushrooms

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roasted kabocha squash with pepita crumble

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