I don’t know about you, but I have been having one of those weeks. You know, the ones that for some reason start off rough and just continue along that path. Not as bad as what some are experiencing, but still bad enough to take you off your game and make you feel blah. If I had a better word to describe the feeling, I would use that.
When I am feeling in a manner that can only be described as “blue,” I have 3 treats that I turn to that help lift my spirits.
The first is PB&J on a cracker. I can almost hear y’all asking, “But Mel, why don’t you just put it on a piece of bread?” Maybe it is the playful and portable nature of the cracker, or that it reminds me of my childhood, or maybe it is the crunch. Whatever it is, I love to smear creamy peanut butter on a Ener-G cracker with a dollop of jam. For this treat, I always use the Ener-G brand crackers because they are firmer and will hold up to the pressure of the peanut butter being spread. A couple of these crackers, and I tend to have the hole in my belly filled and get the start of a smile.
When my tummy hurts, the one comfort food I crave is not a food at all. It is a beverage created in Detroit, is very much a Midwest thing, and sometimes I feel like it is primarily a Michigan thing. When my stomach hurts or I want a taste of home, I look for the green Vernors label. Vernors is a ginger ale that is aged in barrels giving it a different taste profile than other ginger ales on the market. I wish I could describe the flavor accurately, but since I have known the flavor all of my life it is pretty impossible to do. All I know is that no other ginger ale feels like a warm hug from a loved one. Which is the ultimate purpose behind comfort foods, right?
I was fortunate enough to know one set of my Great-Grandparents. And not just know them in a vague sense, know them in we would road trip a couple of times each year to see them, they were alive throughout most of my high school life, and my Great-Grandmother passed after I graduated from HS. So I have very specific memories of visiting them. The TV remote on a wire, my Great-Grandfather in his chair, the fully decorated fake Christmas tree residing in their basement inside a garbage bag. But most of all, I remember the treats my Great-Grandmother Mynette would have for us. The trip never felt complete if I did not have at least 1 graham cracker frosting sandwich. It is what it sounds like: 2 graham crackers with a dollop of homemade frosting between them. When I was first diagnosed, these were the things that I mourned the most. Granted, I never made homemade frosting but grabbed a can of Betty Crocker when I had a craving or need of home, but still. It was the lost that hurt the deepest. Then my mom found the Schar Honey Grahams and I could have that taste of memory again. The Schar grahams are almost perfect, as they do not break too easily, and they have that graham cracker taste that I love. When I am having a rough week like this one, I am glad that the grocery store is not far away and that I stashed a box of Schar Honey Grahams in the back of my cupboard as an emergency pick me up.
The only downside about comfort foods is that they do not seem to be too good for you, or your waist line. But that is the thing about comfort, it is supposed to make you feel better, pounds be damned!
What about you? What is your favorite comfort food?
Have you ever liked the IDEA of something more than the actual thing itself? That is how I feel about Bountiful Eatery, a gluten-free, quick service restaurant located in the Lakeview Neighborhood. Yes, GLUTEN-FREE! I could eat everything here and not have to ask a bajillion questions about cross contamination or ingredients. When I first learned of this restaurant, I did a happy dance. And my happy dance is a sight to behold.
The first time I visited, I ended up getting my order to go. I was feeling lazy, cooking was not an option I wanted to entertain, and I had a movie waiting at home to watch, so I decided to try them out on my way home from work. Originally I was going to order the chicken kabob, but the person behind the counter made me feel like it would be such a hassle to get that, Instead, I ordered the chicken breast pita with a side salad. In general, it is known that I am a bit of a character, but I thought I would have pieces of chicken inside the pita with the spinach, tomatoes, and the “zesty yogurt spread.” What I received was a whole chicken breast placed in a pita. This was not easy to eat, and a disappointment because I really wanted hand food. The side salad was also a disappointment as it tasted like something that I could get out of a bag at my grocery store. Overall, I was disappointed, but they have brunch!
My second trip was my first attempt at trying their brunch menu, but I missed the end time by about 30 minutes. So instead of pancakes I ordered a grilled cheese and turkey from the kids meal and had them add some avocado. Since I had the option of a side salad or chips, my instinct was to go for the salad, but when I saw that eating in would get me the same plastic container of salad I didn’t care for my first go round, I opted for a bag of sweet potato chips. As an added bonus, I decided to try their smoothie menu and got the Choco’Nut (low fat chocolate yogurt, banana, skim chocolate milk, and all natural peanut butter). YUM all around! The avocado added a fun twist to the grilled cheese that had me wondering why I had never tried it before, and the smoothie was a further celebration of my new found love of chocolate, peanut butter, and banana. This is a meal I would come back for, and with the 20% discount they are giving for flashing your gym card, one that clocked in around $12! If my sweet tooth needed further tempting after that smoothie, they have brownies and desert bars from Rose’s Wheat Free Bakery for sale.
Third time was the charm, in terms of FINALLY getting brunch and I eagerly ordered the Pumpkin Pancakes and another Choco’Nut smoothie. After a bit of a wait, my 4 pancakes arrived with a side of fruit. Issue #1 — I had to ask for butter, or a similar substance, for my pancakes. Maybe it is just me, but shouldn’t that just come with the pancakes, along with the syrup (maple, in this instance)?? Issue #2 — the pancakes just kind of tasted blah, until my last one. That last one had that distinctive pumpkin taste with melted butter and maple syrup that I had been longing for the entire meal. Overall, the experience was just a bit meh.
I know I am going to come back here, as I hear other items are good and I want to give them a try. Plus they have a nice smoothie menu, which is always a win in my book. I just really wish I could drum up more enthusiasm for the food, because I like the concept so much. Here is hoping…
Bountiful Eatery, 312 North Broadway, Chicago, IL 60657