Pumpkin oatmeal breakfast comfort food recipe

Comfort food recipes, brought to you by a farm mom

How do you define comfort foods? Is it a recipe that stirs up a bit of nostalgia, something made just the way mom or dad fixed it? Is it something you cozy up to eat next to a fire or under a pile of blankets?

As someone who loves to cook, I think comfort food recipes can be all these things and more.

Even as an Illinois native, winters here can be shockingly cold. And they can be even colder on the farm. (Hello, wind.) So, for me, comfort foods can literally be a source of warmth. They’re also a go-to for our busy seasons – planting and harvesting. These are times when my husband and other family members are on the go, and only have time to stop for what’s an absolute necessity. We’ve made a tradition of “field meals” – meals that can be eaten on the tailgate of a truck or right in the tractor. But more than that, I like to cook something up that provides the refueling, comfort and sense of wellness needed for long days and nights out in the fields.

Speaking of that last one: wellness. Comfort food recipes don’t have to be loaded with sugar and carbs (though it’s my belief indulgence isn’t a bad thing). You can have your comfort and your health, too.

With the start of the new year, you may be well into an effort to choose healthier foods. It’s easy to get swept up with all the label mania you see in the grocery store and online. As someone who didn’t grow up in a farm family, but married into one, I totally get this. Raising my own family on the farm has given me great perspective into how our food is grown and raised. And as one of those individuals responsible for what ends up on your table, I can assure you of this: farmers want healthy, affordable foods just like everyone else, and we work very hard to grow our crops and raise our animals with this in mind.

So, get cozy and get healthy with these comfort food recipes for every meal of the day that, of course, started on the farm.

For breakfast: Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Okay, the name doesn’t exactly say healthy, but don’t let it fool you. Pumpkin and oatmeal both have great health benefits. Oats are chock full of fiber. Pumpkin packs a lot of vitamins and antioxidants – and the really cool part – it’s super local! Illinois farmers grow more than 90% of the nation’s canning pumpkins.

Get my recipe here.

For lunch: Slow Cooker Hearty Beef & Vegetable Soup

If you’re not eating soup or stew at least once a week, are you really a Midwesterner living through winter? Well, if you’re not, definitely add this one to the menu mix. This is a soup I make a lot during the winter that our farmers love. While spring and fall are very busy for farmers, wintertime can be, too. Between selling and hauling our grain, planning for the next year and repairing equipment, we spend quite a bit of time outside during the winter. So, this soup is always a welcome meal when we come inside for lunch. This is a recipe stuffed with lots of healthy foods that have a local start – maybe even from an Illinois farm: beef (in this case, a chuck roast), veggies like carrots, tomatoes and onions (veggies are picked at peak freshness and then canned or frozen often within hours of being picked), and vegetable oil (which is often made in part from the oil of soybeans – a crop we grow a lot of in Illinois).

Get my recipe here.

For dinner: Slow Cooker or Instant Pot Pulled Pork Chili

This crockpot or Instant Pot recipe is warm, cozy and full of flavor. I personally love pork because it is so versatile, and a great healthy protein. From pork tenderloins to pulled pork like this recipe, there are lots of easy, delicious ways to make it. It’s also sustainable. Thanks to modern housing and customized diets, raising pigs today contributes less than 1% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Pigs are also the biggest “customer” for soybeans, one of the crops we grow on our farm.

Get my recipe here.

For dessert or a snack: Slow Cooker Spiced Pear Applesauce

This might just be the epitome of cozy. And it’ll make your house smell amazing. It requires just a few ingredients and has no refined sugar. And, in the full interest of complete ease – there’s no peeling required! Grabbing a few apples from the store is a great option this time of year, but put on your 2021 bucket list a visit to an Illinois apple orchard to pick your own. Here are 11 orchards near the Chicago area.

Get my recipe here.

Deanne Frieders

About Deanne

I live in Waterman, IL with my husband and our four children: Ava, Carson, Eleanor and Luke. We grow corn and soybeans with Ryan’s family.

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