‘Barefoot Contessa’ Ina Garten’s Favorite Comfort Food Is Surprisingly Healthy

Food Network has its host of fan-favorite chefs, and Ina Garten is among them. Just as the world began to shut down from the pandemic, a demand for racial justice surged, and one of the most stressful presidential elections made its way in 2020, the Food Network chef star dropped her comfort food cookbook in hopes of helping people relieve stress with the art of cooking.

Following its success, Garten reveals her all-time favorite comfort food, and you would’ve never guessed it. Out of all the sinfully delicious comfort foods in her Barefoot Contessa show and new cookbook, the chef chose a surprisingly healthy meal!

Who is Ina Garten?

'Barefoot Contessa' star Ina Garten in 2019
‘Barefoot Contessa’ star Ina Garten in 2019 | Brad Barket/Getty Images for The New Yorker

RELATED: Ina Garten Follows 2 Big Rules for Cooking and Entertaining That Sum up the Barefoot Contessa Philosophy Perfectly

Most people know Garten as a cookbook author and popular chef host of her show Barefoot Contessa, but what many fans don’t know is that the Food Network star also served as a staff member of the White House Office of Management and Budget under Richard Nixon in the late ’70s.

In fact, Garten left her job at the White House to own and run her own specialty food store with the same name as her popular show. She would then also go on to make several cookbook series of the same name before making her way onto Food Network as a successful and renowned chef.

What inspired the drastic switch in careers? Her Food Network bio reads, “In 1978, Ina Garten found herself working in the White House on nuclear energy policy and thinking, ‘There’s got to be more to life than this!'” And then the rest was history. 

Her cooking show ‘Barefoot Contessa’ 

RELATED: ‘Barefoot Contessa’ Ina Garten’s Top 10 Breakfast Recipes Include Both Savory and Sweet Options

As a long-running Food Network cooking show, Barefoot Contessa has been introducing cooking enthusiasts and viewers to an assortment of great recipes — ranging from beginner-friendly to more complex options.

Each episode is dedicated to a meal in which she lays out the ingredients, preps, cooks, and instructs each step of the way. The recipes come in all shapes and sizes, fitting small events like a romantic getaway with a picnic to fancy parties and dinners, and fans are raving about the delicious outcomes!

In one of her Barefoot Contessa blogs, the Food Network star gave fans some insight into the story behind her unique cooking show title. “So many people ask, ‘What does Barefoot Contessa mean?'” Garten wrote. “It was the original name of my specialty food store after a movie with Ava Gardner and Humphrey Bogart.  But for me, it means being both elegant and earthy.”

The American chef’s favorite comfort food will surprise you

RELATED: Ina Garten Reveals What She Eats When She Doesn’t Feel Like Cooking

When you think of comfort foods, most people think of cake, cookies, and ice cream, or soups and stews.

For Garten, however, her favorite comfort food is surprisingly healthy, despite her opening line in her new cookbook Modern Comfort Food reading, “I often say that you can be miserable before eating a cookie, and you can be miserable after eating a cookie, but you can never be miserable while you’re eating a cookie.”

In an interview with NPR, Garten reveals that her husband’s favorite comfort food is tomato soup with grilled cheese and probably roast chicken, but says, “I like a good bowl of oatmeal.” Of course, it’s much less shocking that she follows up with the pleasures of mac and cheese as a comfort food too. 

While mac and cheese, cake, and ice cream sound much more appealing as comfort food, Garten’s suggested oatmeal is the better route to go if you’re looking to stay healthy. Of course, you could always add your favorite fruits, nuts, and spices to kick it up a notch!