It’s Fall and everybody at UBC seems like they are in serious need of some comfort. Students are tired, stressed-out and sick...or all three.
We all need to take care of ourselves, and sometimes that means digging into some comfort food. Even if our go-to comfort meals aren’t always exactly “healthy,” they’re definitely good for us.
Luckily, campus has lots of tasty comfort foods. If cooking is relaxing for you, you can even whip up your favourite indulgence and call it “productive procrastination” - it fills your stomach and calms your mind.
You might not actually have the time to curl up and take a nap, but here are some on-campus and at-home meal and snack ideas that will make you feel like you have:
1. The Soup Market
Soup. It’s the ultimate comfort food. No matter where you come from, everyone knows that you eat soup when you’re not feeling good. This makes The Soup Market in the basement of The Nest a mecca for the sick and tired. They have a rotating menu of meat, fish, and veggie options, all served with amazing homemade bread.
2. The Delly
Most people go to The Delly for their custom sandwich bar, but I’m always drawn to their takeaway Indian curries. Indian food is warming, filling, and flavourful enough to temporarily relieve your sniffles. Choose from a bunch of meat and veggie options, including butter chicken and chana masala. Pair with rice or naan. Feel better instantly.
3. Seedlings and Agora
These student-run sustainability initiatives are great for the environmentally- and financially-conscious comfort food seeker. Seedlings (a partner of Sprouts located on the top floor of Thea Koerner House) offers daily stews and curries made from seasonal vegetables, as well as amazing open face vegan burgers...all of which cost a whopping $4. Agora, in MacMillan (aka the LFS building on Agronomy), is a similar model to Seedlings: student-run, sustainable, vegetarian, and cheap. They even give you a discount if you bring your own container. They have tons of options, including soups, frittatas, and my personal cozy childhood faves: PB&J and hot chocolate.
4. Blue Chip Café
Blue Chip cookies are legendary. Nothing makes a stressful day better like biting into a chewy, melty, stupidly large cookie filled with Smarties, peanut butter, or chocolate chunks. My go-to is the Marbelous - dark chocolate cookie, white chocolate swirl. So indulgent and so absolutely necessary.
5. Great Dane Coffee
Great Dane is quite possibly my favourite place on campus. Their coffee is to die for and their scones are the size of my head. They opened up a second location (right next to the first) last year, so there’s plenty of table space to study or just sit and stare out at the rain. They have real food too (their grilled cheese is a masterpiece), and their London Fog scone will always have a special place in my heart.
Smitten Kitchen’s Deb Perlman is the queen of comfort food. This recipe is so easy! 5 ingredients and 25 minutes.
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
3 tbsp. tomato paste
398 ml can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 oz. small pasta (e.g. macaroni, rotini, or alphabet noodles if you’re feeling fun)
Salt and pepper
2 cups boiling water
Step 1: In a medium-large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
Step 2: Add garlic. Stir and breathe in the scent of true happiness. Add in tomato paste, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine.
Step 3: Add chickpeas, pasta, and boiling water. Make sure everything’s well combined.
Step 4: Lower heat and simmer until pasta is cooked and liquid has reduced into saucy goodness, 15-20 minutes.
Step 5: Serve! Deb suggests serving this with homemade rosemary and garlic-infused olive oil, which I highly recommend (instructions on her blog), but it’s not crucial. Enjoy carb heaven.
Chili was always my mom’s go-to winter meal. Hearty, cozy, and easy to make in big batches and then freeze for busy days. I’m a vegetarian, so I actually make this with lentils or extra beans instead of turkey!
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
1.5 lbs ground turkey (or ~1 cup dry lentils, or 2 extra cans of assorted beans)
3 small to medium sweet potatoes, chopped into small pieces
398 ml can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups broth
2 cups water
2 tbsp. taco seasoning
2 tbsp. chili powder
Cayenne or hot sauce to taste
Step 1: In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat until it gets hot enough to slide all over the place when you move the pot around.
Step 2: Add onion, 1 tbsp. each chili powder and taco seasoning, and sauté until translucent. Add the turkey and cook until slightly browned. Remove from pot.
Step 2A: if you want to use lentils, sauté the onions with the spices as described, then combine with 3 cups vegetable broth or water and 1 cup lentils. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed. This should take 15-20 minutes.
Step 3: Add sweet potatoes to the same pot with remaining spices and stir to coat. When they start to brown, add garlic, broth, and water.
Step 4: Bring to a low boil and simmer for 10-ish minutes, until the potatoes are super soft. Pinch of Yum recommends blending the mixture at this point, but I usually just use a masher or wooden spoon to smoosh up the potatoes until the chili’s a little thicker.
Step 5: Add black beans, turkey (or lentils or extra beans), and cayenne or hot sauce to ideal spiciness.
Step 6: Serve and enjoy, preferably with avocado, cheese, tortilla chips, and/or a sense of calm accomplishment.
Peanut butter makes everything better. This brownie recipe is super simple, but adding the peanut butter cups amps them up. If you’re allergic to nuts, you could totally use rolos instead. Genius.
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
½ cup all purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
12 full size peanut butter cups, unwrapped
A pinch of salt
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line an 8x8 baking dish with foil or parchment paper, leaving some to overhang at the edges (this will make it easier to get the brownies out of the pan later). Grease with nonstick cooking spray.
Step 2: In a large bowl, whisk together butter and sugar until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk, whisk, whisk.
Step 3: Add flour, cocoa, and salt, and stir until combined. Don’t forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl! Taste to show you do not fear the wrath of raw eggs.
Step 4: Pour half the batter into the baking pan. Place the PB cups in a single layer across the whole pan. You can cut them up to get them to fit in the corners. Add the rest of the batter and spread it out so everything’s covered evenly.
Step 5: Bake for 30-35 minutes. You’ll know they’re ready when the edges have started to come away from the pan and the centre is sort of bouncy when you poke it.
Step 6: Resist temptation until cool, slice into squares, and enjoy!
Comfort foods exist to be comforting. It’s amazing how much better a hearty, cozy meal, or snack can make you feel after a stressful, rainy day. So give into those cravings every once in awhile! You deserve it.