As families spend more time at home, Americans are finding comfort in a surprising source: bread. In fact, a 20-year trend of declining grain food consumption has been reversed.

A national study by the Grain Food Foundation suggests that the turnaround is more than a one-time sales blip due to pantry loading. In reality, consumers count bread among their top comfort foods. The study revealed one-third of Americans named pasta and bread as foods that are comforting during a stressful time.

As a part of many healthy eating plans, bread and pasta are nutritionist approved and provide nutrients needed for healthy aging such as B vitamins, magnesium, selenium, iron, folate and fiber.

The highest-ranking comfort foods were ice cream; baked goods like cakes, cookies and pastries; salty snacks; candy; and fast food. However, when asked to identify comfort foods with nutritional advantages, consumers identified bread and pasta as the top two.

To learn more about the role of grain foods in a healthful diet, visit


2 medium Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 1/4 cups canned diced tomatoes, undrained

1/4 cup diced green bell pepper

1/4 cup peeled, seeded and diced cucumber

2 tablespoons diced red onion

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional (optional)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

2 bagels cut into 2-inch pieces and toasted

Assorted greens (optional)

In medium bowl, mix tomatoes, canned tomatoes with juice, green pepper, cucumber, onion, cheese, vinegar and basil.

Add toasted bagel pieces; toss gently. Marinate, covered, in refrigerator 1 hour. Serve within 1 hour after marinating. Sprinkle with additional cheese and serve on bed of assorted greens, if desired. Serves 6.


1 box whole-grain rotini

1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil

1 pound chicken sausage, sliced

1 cup thinly sliced leeks

1 cup thinly sliced green onions

2 cups sliced mushrooms

1 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup chopped parsley

6 leaves from tarragon sprigs, chopped

1 cup grated Romano cheese

Parmesan-Romano cheese (optional)

Prepare rotini according to package directions. Drain and transfer to large bowl.

In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add sausage and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until well browned. Add leeks, onions and mushrooms; cook until tender. Add chicken stock and simmer 3 to 5 minutes, or until hot. Fold sausage mixture into warm pasta. Add parsley, tarragon and Romano cheese; toss again. Top with Parmesan-Romano cheese, if desired. Serves 8.


6 Roma tomatoes, diced

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely minced

2 serrano or jalapeno peppers, finely chopped

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Juice of 1 lime

1/8 teaspoon finely crushed oregano

1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/2 avocado, diced

4 large Kaiser rolls, sliced in half lengthwise

1 can seasoned low-fat refried black beans

2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

In medium mixing bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, peppers, cilantro, lime juice, oregano, salt (if using), pepper and avocado; set aside.

On a medium platter, place split rolls. With a spatula, spread refried beans onto each bread half; sprinkle cheese over bread.

Bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 8 minutes, or until cheese is melted and hot. Top with Pico de Gallo. Serves 4.

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