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Brighten Up a Season of Sniffles with Comfort Food

Lisa Messinger on

For many, it's the season of sneezes and sniffles, which can greatly dim taste buds and appetite. As colds and flus tighten their grips and days slowly pass, even orange juice loses its zing due to the pesky clogs that are palate transformers.

I've found what brightens the mood and even motivates sticking to healing techniques -- like getting more rest and taking one's medication on time -- is menu planning and diet daydreaming

Recently, I had work done on one rogue tooth that required weeks of a soft foods and liquid diet. At first, I was occupied with learning what protein drinks had the least sugar and the most fiber and protein and still tasted good, as well as how far I could stretch the variety of vegetable juices I concocted. I also even enjoyed naked teaspoons of peanut and almond butters to get some healthy fats.

However, what I found really brightened my day was when a new cookbook I had purchased arrived in the mail. There was actress/Food Network star Valerie Bertinelli smiling broadly on the cover, tossing pasta in her backyard on a table filled with crusty bread and crunchy vegetables. This was "Valerie's Home Cooking," the namesake of one of her cooking series, which each time I watched I wished she would publish a companion cookbook.

Since still awaiting a procedure and healing, I couldn't make most of the recipes yet, but from the second it arrived, it dawned on me, "The minute my tooth is better, I am going to sink all of the rest of them into a special recipe I choose." I left the colorful book out on a table I often saw and flipped through it quite a bit, and it did definitely provide inspiration to heal. Much the same was daydreaming about longtime favorite family comfort food recipes that were out of the question at the moment, but I couldn't wait to have, like tangy orange-glazed, onion-flavored broiled chicken.

If you could use some stimulus to help speed the stop of the sniffles, or any other ailment affecting your appetite, following are some ideas inspired by Bertinelli's more than 100 comfort food dishes. The full-length recipes that appear in the book, like the bubbly star's cooking series, show off what a talented home chef she is.

BEAUTIFY YOUR BURGERS

Serve a grilled burger made from slices of your favorite turkey meatloaf (Bertinelli includes sweet turkey Italian sausage removed from the casing as well as ground turkey in hers) topped with provolone cheese, bacon and dill pickle chips on ciabatta rolls.

SLICK SLIDERS

Consider making your sliders, as Bertinelli does, from a mix of sweet and hot Italian sausage removed from the casing as well red or orange bell pepper, shallots and garlic.

 

HOT DIP IS A HOT CHOICE

Bertinelli prepares a mean roasted asparagus pesto dip. A quick idea to try is restaurant take-out or frozen or fresh supermarket hot artichoke dip mixed with store-bought pesto and served warm.

PEP UP YOUR PASTA

Like Bertinelli, include roasted eggplant and pesto tossed with your pasta, as well as halved pitted kalamata olives, fresh basil and halved cherry tomatoes.

MAC 'N' CHEESE WITH BITE

Stir in a few tablespoons of French onion dip, a tablespoon of hot sauce, a small chopped sauted yellow onion to your favorite macaroni and cheese and top with crushed salt and vinegar flavored potato chips.

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Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food writing from the Association of Food, Journalists and the author of seven food books, including "Mrs. Cubbison's Best Stuffing Cookbook" and "The Sourdough Bread Bowl Cookbook." To find out more about Lisa Messinger and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

 

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