by Christina Meyer-Jax MS, RD, Tastemaker in Residence
In my nutrition-land the popular Valentine’s blog post or TV segment is typically on the latest reason dark chocolate is “good” for you. A clever way to feel better about the purchase and noshing of square after square on February 14th. So give the people what they want right, with a recipe attached.
Not this year! What is this “holiday” really about? Love, right? And isn’t the “way to a man’s heart through his stomach?” There are so many way to show the love, but honestly food and all humans (not just men) respond to nourishment that’s from the heart.
What food makes you “feel the love”? A simple question that evokes heart-felt responses. Often times we have no idea how our simple culinary creations (or food purchases) have affected and bonded our relationships.
I sent out a Google Form and a Facebook request asking friends, family, and colleagues what food in your life (either made or bought for you) makes you feel that you are loved. Their stories warmed my soul and inspired me. An overwhelming response, but here is a snapshot of what I received:
- On the legendary Schroeder family road trips Grandma Myrtle would make “Bumpy Cookies” (a family nickname for a Norwegian sugar cookie) and pack them carefully in recycled Pringle cans.
- Growing up in the country we would go out and pick raspberries in our huge patch. Then my mom and grandma would always can homemade raspberry jam for the fall.
- Homemade popcorn! It meant family movie night.
- Hershey Kisses in my lunch box!
- Pizza on Friday nights. A tradition I had growing up and continue with my own family.
- I’d have to say my mom’s hot, co-co wheats cereal that she so lovingly made a happy face with marshmallows on top of. As a single mom she woke every day and made a hot breakfast before we headed off to school.
- Sausage, Egg and Cheese Biscuit from Burger King. Every time I eat this I am reminded of my dad. My dad would always take me to eat at Burger King on certain mornings before he took me to school. He would sit there and watch me eat until I was done. It made me feel loved because I remember how he would starve himself just to buy something for me to eat. Even if I was a little late for school, he wanted to make sure I would not attend school hungry.
- Pancakes because they are made especially for me.
- Boxed Blueberry Muffins. My mom would make these every so often when it was just her and I. It was a treat that we could share together and both loved. Even though she wasn't the best at cooking and most of the time they were either burnt or soggy, I still thought they were the best muffins in the world
- Pomegranates because it’s princess food.
- Lasagna because it makes me feel warm and comfy.
- Cheesy Scrambled Eggs. My dad is a police officer, and works the night shift. He usually wakes up around 3:30, right around the time I would get home from school. He loved waking up and making us both cheesy eggs, even if it was just a little snack to hold us over before dinner.
- When Matt cooks I feel loved. I really love it when after a long day he pours me a glass of wine!
- When my mom would make my childhood fave “Mock Oysters” actually more like a meatloaf/hamburger concoction, but straight up delish.
This was only the start…Most of the responses were all about food making them feel special. This was especially true when feeling sick. Homemade Chicken Noodle soup, chocolate pudding, mashed potatoes, and bread all top the list when feeling under the weather.
Then there is the love felt with food traditions: lefse, Friday night fish fry, Taco Tuesdays, hot cocoa after sledding, holiday goulash, first day of school cookies. This list can go on and on.
My own kids have said our whole kitchen smells like love. When they come home from a long day of school and sports having a hot meal and a bake good is like a big belly hug.
Food Love. It’s the real deal. As a colleague Kathryn said, “We should always stir love into the pot. When you do that everyone loves the food no matter what it is.” And that my friends goes beyond dark chocolate. Happy heart day, every day!