Tag Archives: comfort foods

An overhead show of sliced marbled banana bread

Why We’re Drawn to Comfort Baking in Times of Stress, According to a Psychologist

If we could sum up our collective baking experience in 2020, it would boil down to two words: banana bread.

When the global pandemic first upended our everyday lives back in March, many of us turned to baking. It didn’t matter whether or not we were seasoned pros, we all seemed to crave the baked goods we cherished as kids. (Think: cookies, muffins, bread and pies). There was something comforting about the familiar smells and tastes — and it had many of us resorting to a form of culinary therapy in a time of uncertainty. You couldn’t scroll through your Instagram feed without coming across dozens of bread loaves conjured up by even the unlikeliest bakers in your friend group.

Get the recipe for Healthy Marbled Banana Bread

So, what gives? Why now, in the midst of the second wave of COVID-19,  have we once again turned to baking — albeit with a distinct holiday sparkle this time around. As it turns out, our desire to bake when the going gets tough actually has deep psychological roots that can be traced back to our childhood.

Dr. Brent Macdonald, of the Macdonald Psychology Group in Calgary, has more than 20 years of experience in the field — and is more than familiar with the various intricacies of the human brain when it comes to food associations.

Related: Our Fave Food Trends to Come Out of Quarantine, From Pancake Cereal to Bread Art

“[Baking or cooking] can remind you of the positive experience of sharing it with family, of being cared for and comforted as children — and that same emotional transference happens in adults,” he explains. “The smell, the taste, the texture, the experience of eating something that brought you pleasure as a child brings up all those positive emotions of comfort and warmth.”

As Macdonald notes, it’s no mere coincidence that we seek out these familiar foods in times of strife. For many, it’s a form of mindfulness — even if we don’t realize it. “We tend not to have [comfort food] when we’re doing well — we typically have it when we’re feeling stressed. That’s our medicine, in a sense,” he says. “The good thing about it is that it works — comfort food and comfort baking makes us feel better. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing — we shouldn’t feel shame or embarrassment that we have comfort foods we enjoy. It kind of gets a bad rap because of its association with sugars and carbohydrates — and fair enough. But once in awhile, treats are treats for a reason.”

Get the recipe for Fudgiest Sweet Potato Brownies

But given this whirlwind year where many have faced significant social and professional upheavals, Macdonald says it’s still important to take note of how consuming these baked goods makes you feel — aside from sentimental reminders of Grandma’s kitchen.

“Does [comfort baking] make you feel good and just feel good? Or does it make you feel good temporarily, masking some really unpleasant emotions that come back immediately once you stop eating? Because that’s an unhealthy pattern,” Macdonald says.

So, what’s the actual science behind this feel-good attachment we have to baking? Over the years, researchers have shown evidence that the act of baking triggers various parts of our brain, including the amygdala (the part of our brain where emotions are given meaning) and the hippocampal cortex (memory retrieval) which can ultimately help us reduce stress and anxiety. Therefore, a simple scent — vanilla or melted butter — can take us back to the relative safety and comfort of our childhood, thus inspiring in us the desire to recreate the recipes we indulged in during our “stress-free” younger years.

Get the recipe for Perfect Fermented Sourdough Bread

And with certain scents you can almost feel the power of those neuroreceptors firing off, Macdonald says. “We start to drool, to salivate, as our body prepares to ingest the food. It’s similar to people who have nicotine cravings. All of those things set off an anticipatory response that is waiting for that intake.”

So, with the holiday season upon us and no sign of COVID-19 abating before the end of this strange year, indulge in a little feel-good baking — whether you’re a novice or pro. After all, it’s one of the most budget-friendly therapeutic activities you can engage in — and the end result tastes delicious. Happy baking!

Try your hand at these classic Christmas cookies that will spread holiday cheer or these bountiful bread pudding recipes you’ll make over and over.

French Onion Soup Pizza Will Satisfy All Your Cravings

Craving a piping hot bowl of French onion soup? Get all the same flavours of this comfort food classic, but in pizza form!

Hand-held slices packed with buttery, caramelized onions and flavourful broth, gooey melted Gruyère and a crispy bread base — this mouth-watering pizza gives fusion a whole new meaning.

888_French-Onion-Soup-Pizza2

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 cups sliced Spanish onions
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp Madeira wine
1/2 cup beef stock
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp black pepper
2 sprigs fresh thyme, plus 1/2 tsp
1 227g store bought, thin pizza crust
1 cup of Gruyère cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

888_French-Onion-Soup-Pizza

Directions:
1. Heat butter in a large pan over medium heat. Once butter is bubbly and foaming, add the onions and salt. Stir onions to coat in butter and let cook until deep brown and caramelized, about 30 minutes, stirring intermittently.
2. Once onions have caramelized, pour in Madeira wine, stir, and continue to cook until alcohol is evaporated and liquid is fully absorbed into onions, about 1 minute.
3. Preheat oven to 400°F. Add beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper and thyme to onions. Increase heat to medium and cook until stock fully reduces, about 5 minutes. Drain any residual liquid and remove thyme sprigs.
4. Place the caramelized onions over the pizza crust, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge. Cover onions with Gruyère and sprinkle with Parmesan.
5. Bake in oven until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and garnish with 1/2 tsp fresh thyme.

Looking for more comfort food goodness? Check out our 16 Satisfying French Onion Soup Recipes.

The Best Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup

When the weather gets chilly and all you want to do is stay cozy inside, we know exactly what you’ll be craving: a steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup! Our favourite childhood meal, this faux chicken noodle soup is made entirely from plant-based ingredients and we promise you won’t notice the difference.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Serves: 6-8

888_vegan-chicken-noodle-soup

Ingredients:
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced celery
3 garlic cloves, minced
7 cups low sodium vegetable stock
170 g meatless chicken strips (approximately 2 cups)
200 g fettuccine noodles
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 Tbsp sunflower oil
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp dried sage
1/4tsp ground pepper

888_vegan-chicken-noodle-soup2

Directions:
1. Pull apart the meatless chicken strips with your hands to make smaller pieces that look shredded.
2. In a large pot, heat sunflower oil over medium heat and then add meatless chicken strips and brown for 1 minute.
3. Add basil, thyme, sage, sea salt and ground pepper, and continue browning the strips for another 5 minutes.
4. Add onion and sauté for another 2 minutes, allowing them to soften and sweat, stirring occasionally.
5. At this point, add a bit of vegetable stock to lift up the brown bits off the bottom of the pot, stir in celery and carrots and sauté for 4-5 minutes.
6. Add minced garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.
7. Add all the vegetable stock and noodles (you can use any type of pasta, which may vary the cook time) and stir to combine.
8. Cover pot with lid, lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until noodles are tender and cooked through.
9. In the last 2 minutes of cooking, add in parsley.
10. Serve immediately.

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie with Crispy Cauliflower Crust

There’s something ultra-comforting about a wintery shepherd’s pie. But this vegan version turns the concept of the classic comfort food on its head. Protein-packed lentils and vegetables are smothered in an easy pan gravy and topped with lean puréed cauliflower.

This veganized shepherd’s pie is not only nutritious, delicious and satisfying, it’s also really easy to make. All your guests — meat-eaters and vegans alike — are sure to enjoy a scoop of this cozy meal.

vegan-shepherds-pie-recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 13 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 23 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

Filling
3/4 cup uncooked brown lentils
1 Tbsp coconut oil or vegan butter
2 cups finely chopped savoy cabbage
2 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup water
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
1/8 tsp ground cloves

Crispy Cauliflower Crust
1/2 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
Ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
2. For the filling, add lentils to a medium saucepan, cover with 3 inches water, bring to a boil, reduce to medium and cook, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes, until tender. Drain. Reserve.
3. For the crust, steam cauliflower until very tender. Add to a food processor along with olive oil, salt and pepper, and purée until smooth. Reserve.
4. In a large high-sided skillet, heat coconut oil or vegan butter over medium heat. Add cabbage, celery, carrot and garlic. Sauté for 5 to 8 minutes, until vegetables are almost tender. Thoroughly stir in reserved cooked lentils, water, vinegar, Worcestershire, tomato paste, salt, pepper and cloves.
5. To assemble, pour filling mixture into an 8×8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish; smooth surface. Add dollops of cauliflower crust over top and smooth to cover filling. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until bubbling and beginning to brown on top. Serve.

Be sure to check out these 40 comforting recipes you won’t believe are vegan.

Scrumptious Braided Cheeseburger Mac ‘n’ Cheese Roll

As decadent as a meal can get, this cheesy, beefy, buttery pastry roll will be the star of the show at your next gathering. It’s super easy to make and yields an impressive presentation, perfect for entertaining kids and adults alike!

To create this marriage of two comfort foods — a juicy cheeseburger and creamy mac and cheese — frozen puff pastry dough is filled with a mixture of macaroni noodles, beef, cheddar cheese and spinach, then braided to secure all the ingredients in place. It’s then baked until the filling is bubbly and the pastry is a flaky, golden brown. Don’t be intimidated by the braiding — we promise you’ll have it mastered in no time!

Braided-Cheeseburger-Mac-and-Cheese-Roll

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:
1/2 cup cooked ground beef
1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed thoroughly to remove excess water
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 cups homemade or prepared macaroni and cheese (use ½ cup less milk than called for in the recipe if homemade), room temperature or slightly chilled
1 sheet frozen pre-rolled puff pastry, defrosted
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp fine grain salt
1/4 tsp flaky sea salt
1 cup prepared tomato sauce, warmed

Braided-Cheeseburger-Mac-and-Cheese-Roll2

Directions:

Filling:
1. Add cooked and cooled ground beef to a large bowl along with spinach, cheese and macaroni and cheese. Set aside.

Assembly:
1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. To place puff pastry sheet in the centre of prepared baking sheet. In the middle of the pastry, form prepared beef and noodle filling into a (approximately) 3×6-inch x 2-inch-high rectangle.
3. On long sides of pastry, make 8 slices (flaps for braiding).
4. Tuck top and bottom ends of pastry over filling. Starting at the top, cross two flaps on opposites sides. Repeat with remaining flaps, making sure there are no large gaps where filling can be seen (a few holes are okay). Tuck in any stray scraps.
5. Keep the roll straight or using your hands, gently curve roll.
6. Brush top of roll with mustard and sprinkle with salt.
7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until filling is bubbling and pastry is golden brown. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes (so filling doesn’t all fall out when slicing).

To Serve:
1. Using a large flat spatula, transfer roll to a serving platter. Slice and serve with tomato sauce for dipping.

Looking for more comfort food favourites? Check out these satisfying snacks across Canada.

12 Great Greasy Spoons to Try Across Canada

Some places may not love the term “greasy spoon,” but to me, using that expression isn’t always a bad thing. As much as we all love our plates of confit this, and sous-vide that, at the end of the day, sometimes you just want a greasy burger or a simple sandwich loaded with deli cuts and a proportionate amount of mustard.

blackfoot-diner
Blackfoot Truckstop Diner/Facebook

That, my friends, is where these satisfying and delicious greasy spoons come in.

Blackfoot Truckstop Diner (Calgary, AB)

Normally I wouldn’t put a restaurant on a list after it was mentioned only a couple of weeks ago, but for Calgary, Blackfoot fits the bill too perfectly for being both a great late-night food spot (open 24 hours), as well as a top notch greasy spoon.

Try the grilled hamburger steak drowned in gravy, with a healthy portion of poutine on the side — you will love (and hate) yourself for it.

broadway-cafe
Broadway Cafe/Facebook

Broadway Cafe (Saskatoon, SK)

Anywhere that proudly proclaims they serve Campbells’ soup has clearly read the definition of greasy spoon in the dictionary. Keep things classic at this Saskatoon institution with a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup for dipping. Don’t forget the milkshakes either — I mean, how else could you wash all of that cheesy goodness down? And, with most menu prices not exceeding the $10 mark, your wallet will feel just as content as you do after sitting down for a diner-style meal here.

spoons-diner2
Spoons Diner/Facebook

The Commodore (Edmonton, AB)

In business for 73 years and counting, this casual downtown eatery on Jasper Avenue just might be the longest-running restaurant in the city’s history. Commodore is still owned by the original family that opened its doors back in 1942, passed down through the generations. Talk about a family business!

The food may be simple and the interior no-frills, but you’ll definitely soak up a little bit of Edmonton history anytime you visit this joint.

Cosmos Snack Bar (Montreal, QC)

French toast, crispy bacon, tall breakfast sandwiches with a sunny side egg, sliced in half and dripping down your hands as you pick it up… There’s not much to complain about at one of Montreal’s go-to greasy spoons. For a city that embraces foie gras so much, I’m almost a little surprised you can’t find it served diner-style here.

dangerous-dans-diner
Dangerous Dan’s Diner/Facebook

Dangerous Dan’s Diner (Toronto, ON)

If a gigantic burger topped with cheddar, bacon and a fried egg sounds good to you, then Dangerous Dan’s demands your presence. The Queen Street East diner is definitely a hot spot for many Torontonians, and Dan’s delicious deep-fried perogies alone are a good enough reason to check it out.

galaxy-diner
Galaxie Diner/Facebook

Galaxie Diner (Calgary, AB)

Calgarians looking for a hangover cure are always willing to brave long line-ups (and cold weather, come November) to get a seat inside this little restaurant that dishes out eggs by the hundreds and hashbrowns by the ton (my estimation), every day of the week. The “Calgary Sandwich” is Galaxie’s popular spin on a Denver and is loaded with everything from eggs, sausage and bacon, to peppers, onions, mushrooms and possibly a kitchen sink too!

Park Cafe (Saskatoon, SK)

What’s a guy gotta do to find some decent shock food in Saskatoon? Well, he has to go to Park Cafe. If you’re unsure what shock food is, just picture some of the more crazy items that Guy Fieri consumes on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and that pretty much sums it up. The “Death by Cheese Sandwich” is not for the faint of heart and is as greasy as it gets. Basically, it’s a nice, thick grilled cheese sandwich that’s battered, breaded and deep-fried. Everything in moderation, my friends.

save-on-meats
Save On Meats/Facebook

Save On Meats (Vancouver, BC)

Lumping Save On Meats into a line-up of greasy spoons may not be the most accurate thing to do. Sure, they cook up simple, comforting dishes like patty melts and Salisbury steaks, but beneath their simple offerings, this restaurant is so much more. The diner is community focused through-and-through, offering a token program where people (you and me) can purchase meals for $2.25 and hand them out to less fortunate individuals that you might encounter in an area of town that is slowly being restored.

spoons-diner
Spoons Diner/Facebook

Spoons Diner (Victoria, BC)

Whether you’re craving an early morning bite, quick lunch or simple dinner, Spoons is here for you. Pancakes, eggs Benny, clubhouse sandwiches… Whatever diner dish you’re craving, you’ll probably find it on the menu.

the-templeton
The Templeton/Facebook

The Templeton (Vancouver, BC)

Located on Granville Street in the heart of Vancouver, this old diner is charmingly worn and slightly rough-around-the-edges, not unlike the street you find it on. If reasonably priced BLT sandwiches or mini Kellogg’s cereal box breakfasts are your jam, this is the place for you.

The Westcliffe (Halifax, NS)

When Halifax-based food writer Kathy Jollimore told me you can get a cheeseburger and fries for under $5 at this east coast eatery, I almost didn’t believe her. Turns out, almost everything on the menu is $5 or less. Since we’re all the way out on the east coast, you can also find fried clams and fish and chips for one heck of a deal too.

zaks-diner
Zak’s Diner/Facebook

Zak’s Diner (Ottawa, ON)

Ottawa’s ByWard Market has no shortage of shops, restaurants and bars, but when the sun goes down and the street crowds dwindle, whose neon sign shines brightest? Zak’s. Established the same year as Lindsay Lohan (1986, obviously), this 24-hour diner keeps things nice and greasy around the clock with menu items like chili cheese dogs, deep-fried macaroni and so much more.

Shareable Sushi Pizza with Wasabi Aioli

There’s only one thing better than pizza or sushi: sushi pizza. Using a crispy yet chewy rice patty  base and topped with traditional sushi roll fillings, this Japanese-Canadian creation is a delicious way to enjoy two classic foods.

Sushi rice is quite starchy and becomes sticky while it cooks, making it the ideal rice for a pizza base. As for the toppings, feel free to mix it up and top with your favourite proteins, veggies, and sauces.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Makes: 16 pieces

mini-sushi-pizza2

Ingredients:

Wasabi Aioli:
1 egg yolk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 cup canola oil
2 tsp wasabi powder
2 tbsp rice vinegar

Rice Patty:
2 cups sushi rice
2 cups cold water
½ cup rice vinegar
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp salt
4 tsp canola oil

Toppings:
½ avocado, sliced
½ lb sushi grade salmon, thinly sliced
¼ cup sliced English cucumber
2 Tbsp sliced green onion
½ Tbsp kelp caviar
½ tsp black sesame seeds

mini-sushi-pizza1

Directions:

Wasabi Aioli:
1. In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolk with mustard.
2. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in oil until mixture is emulsified.
3. Whisk in wasabi powder and rice vinegar.

Rice Patty:
1. In fine sieve, rinse rice in 3 changes of cold water, stirring vigorously until water runs clear. Drain well.
2. In a medium saucepan, bring rice and water to a boil over high heat.
3. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and let stand covered for 10 minutes.
5. In a large bowl, combine rice vinegar, salt and sugar. Stir until sugar and salt have dissolved.
6. Add to warm rice and mix gently to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Assembly:
1. Divide rice mixture into 4 balls.
2 On a piece of parchment paper, flatten each ball into a 5-inch round.
3, Heat 4 tsp of oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
4. Cook one sushi crust, turning once, until crisp and lightly golden, about 2 minutes per side.
5. Repeat with remaining sushi crusts.
6. Transfer to cutting board and cut each crust into quarters.
7. Top with avocado, cucumber, salmon and green onions. Top with kelp caviar, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and drizzle with wasabi aioli.

The Sandwich Capital of Canada Is…

Hogtown, the Six, T-dot, the Big Smoke, the Sandwich Capital of Canada. Whatever you call it, Toronto is a big city with big-city pleasures and big-city problems, so it’s no wonder busy residents often eat on the go.

They’ve got sports teams to cheer for and complain about, traffic to get stuck in, and weather to hide from,” says You Gotta Eat Here! host John Catucci. “Torontonians don’t have time to eat their food with a fork and knife — they want to pick it up with both hands! That’s why you’ll find some amazing sandwiches here in Canada’s sandwich capital!”

Want to know what Toronto’s hiding between its slices? In no particular order, here are some of the GTA’s best sandwiches, as featured on You Gotta Eat Here!

Buttermilk Fried Turkey Sandwich, The ClubhouseFried-Turkey-Sandwich-(2)Can’t get to Toronto’s Kensington Market to sample The Clubhouse’s Buttermilk Fried Turkey Sandwich, smothered in smoky mayo and topped with crispy cranberry cilantro slaw? Luckily, we’ve got the recipe.

 Cuban Medianoche, La CubanaBraised-Shortrib-Medianoche-1Pressed sandwiches are the specialty at La Cubana. With two locations in trendy Toronto hoods Roncesvalles Village and Ossington Village, this eatery knows how to please cool Torontonians. The secret? Fresh, classic fare with a throwback vibe. Be sure to try the Traditional Medianoche, a soft white milk bun filled with molasses pork, ham and Gruyère.

Hogtown BLT, The CureThe-Hogtown-Cure---Hogtown-Ultimate-BLT---IMG_8073If hunger is what ails you, Hogtown’s got a cure — The Cure’s Hogtown BLT. The Cure (formerly The Hogtown Cure) piles its signature sandwich with house-made bacon, peameal bacon, arugula and tomato, layering it on a bun smothered with bacon jam and remoulade. Yum!

The Beastwich, BeastBeastwichYou can’t beat the Beast…but you can try. (For real, you CAN try: with this recipe). Or, head on over to this Toronto hotspot for its Beastwich, an intimidating tower of a buttermilk biscuit filled with a fried chicken thigh, pimento cheese, pork sausage gravy and a fried egg.

Smoked Meat Sandwich, Caplansky’s DeliCaplansky's-Smoked-MEat-SandwichCaplansky’s is an old-school Jewish deli, serving all-day breakfasts and sandwiches piled high with house-smoked meats. Chef Zane Caplansky‘s signature dish is not to be missed!

Sloppy Joe, White Brick Kitchen IMG_3291---White-Brick_Bacon-Brisket-Sloppy-JoeIf the only Sloppy Joe you’ve ever had came from a can, prepare for a revelation. White Brick Kitchen’s version is hot mess of ground chuck, bacon, sour cream and BBQ sauce. Try it yourself at home, if you’d like — we’ve got the recipe.

Pulled Pork Beanasaurus, Sul Irmaos Smokehouse BeanosaurusSul Irmaos is a GTA favourite, celebrated for its Portuguese BBQ and comfort food. Their Pulled Pork Beanasaurus is a medley of Southern slow-cooked pork, kettle-cooked baked beans, creamy coleslaw and crunchy fried mac and cheese bites. Prefer to make the Pulled Pork Beanasaurus at home? Here’s the recipe.

Catch new episodes of You Gotta Eat Here! Fridays at 9 E/P. Be sure to visit the location map to find the nearest sandwich shop near you.

10 Best Comfort Food Spots from ‘You Gotta Eat Here!’

Do you ever get jealous of John Catucci? I mean, I certainly do; traipsing around North America, diving into unique and tasty food, and getting all of those tried-and-true recipes to boot? You’re a lucky man, Catucci!

Here are 10 You Gotta Eat Here! restaurants from coast-to-coast that are even more delicious when it’s cold outside and you’re looking for some down-home comfort food.

2 Doors Down (Halifax, NS) 
Good ol’ comfort food with a little refinement is something everyone can appreciate, and that’s exactly what you’ll find at this popular joint in downtown Halifax. The classic cheeseburger is quality through and through with a house-made “processed” cheese slice, tangy pickles and a big, juicy patty sandwiched between a pillowy sesame seed bun. Then there’s the more unique interpretations of popular classics like a Korean-inspired gnocchi, and mac ‘n cheese that’s loaded up with kale, roasted broccoli and brussels sprouts, oh, and lots of cheese, too!

888_2-doors-down

2 Doors Down

Calabash Bistro (Vancouver, BC) 
Caribbean spices like nutmeg and cinnamon are coupled with the heat from spicy scotch bonnet peppers, resulting in a residual heat that may overwhelm your taste buds at first — but will settle down to a gentle warming that will make you feel cozy and satisfied. The oxtail stew with fried coconut dumplings, or classic the Jamaican meat patties are good examples of the comfort food fare you can find at Vancouver’s premier Caribbean eatery.

888_calabash

Calabash Bistro

EE Burritos (Saskatoon, SK)
It’s no secret that it gets cold in Saskatchewan starting mid November — like bone-chilling, wear-a-snowsuit-to-work sort of cold. So why not shake off the snow and warm up at this lively Latino eatery, with a big bowl of pozole soup or the beef flauta (think jumbo-sized taquito), or maybe a side of refried beans for good measure.

888_ee-burrito

EE Burritos

Murray Street Kitchen (Ottawa, ON)
This nose-to-tail spot in the country’s capital is known for its meat-heavy menu, house-made charcuterie and bold, cozy flavours. More adventurous eaters can find comfort in a plate of braised ox tongue with cheese curd creamed corn, while Murray’s ode to Newfoundland, “Dan’s Beef” — a mix of cured, smoked and braised beef shank, cabbage and veggies, with bone marrow “buttered” garlic toast — would be just right for, well, just about anyone.

888_murray-st

Murray Street Kitchen

Naina’s (Calgary, AB)
A go-to restaurant in Calgary for grilled cheese sandwiches, poutine and Naina’s famous stuffed burgers, it should come as no surprise that the comfort level of these plates of food are off the charts. Order up a big burger topped with pulled pork, barbecue sauce and mozzarella cheese to see what all the cool kids have been raving about.

888_nainas

Naina’s

Rock Lobster (Toronto, ON)
As the name implies, lobster is the name of the game at Matt Dean Preddit’s duo of restaurants in Toronto. As satisfying as lobster rolls are, they’re more of a warm-weather sort of meal, so stick to the rich and creamy dishes like the lobster cheese dip, lobster mac ‘n cheese or lobster poutine. Too much lobster, you say? I say, there’s no such thing.

888_rock-lobster

Rock Lobster

Saint John Ale House (Saint John, NB)
There’s a double whammy of Food Network Canada show history here as you’ll find one of Top Chef Canada’s most charismatic and bubbly chefs, Jesse Vergen running the kitchen. Being a family man, Vergen makes sure there’s plenty to choose from for kids, like chicken fingers (with local chicken meat, no pre-packaged frozen strips here) or grilled cheese, while adults can look forward to things like warm rock crab and cream cheese dip, pork sausages with mashed potatoes, braised cabbage and more.

888_saint-john-ale-house

Saint John Ale House

Smoke and Spice Southern Barbeque (Windsor, ON)
Pulled pork sandwiches, smoky, fall-off-the-bone smoked ribs and cornbread are just a few of the Southern-style dishes you can sink your teeth into at this family-friendly joint. Swing by midday any weekday for some Southern-inspired lunch with such fare as smoked meatloaf, waffle fries, collard greens and their specialty, the pulled pork sundae.

888_smoke-and-spice

Smoke and Spice Southern Barbeque

The Tallest Poppy (Winnipeg, MB)
Since appearing on season one of You Gotta Eat Here!, The Tallest Poppy has relocated to a bigger and better space at the front of the Sherbrook Inn in Winnipeg. The cozy comfort food remains the same though, with big bowls of homemade matzo ball and chicken soup, bison meatloaf and other large plates of goodness that are ready and waiting to warm you up on a chilly night.

888_tallest-poppy

The Tallest Poppy

Topanga Cafe (Vancouver, BC)
Some Mexican food, like tacos and tostadas, doesn’t always have the same charm on a chilly day as they do when you’re soaking up some sun and sipping on a cold beer. So stick with this restaurant’s more comforting dishes like burritos, enchiladas, black bean soup and tamales. A friend told me that their chocolate cake, baked fresh every day, is to die for. Chocolate is comfort 365 days a year, right?

888_topanga-cafe

Topanga Cafe