The last thing we usually equate St. Patrick’s Day with is healthy eating, but since it falls during National Nutrition Month, I wanted to share some easy tweaks to improve upon traditional recipes.
So pass on the greasy pub fare next week, and honor the holiday with a meal of Irish-inspired foods that are a wee bit better for you.
Corned beef and cabbage was traditionally eaten in Ireland as an Easter lunch after the long meatless days of Lent because the preserved meat lasted through the winter. Now, we enjoy it annually on March 17, but here’s a soup recipe that’s simple enough to serve guilt-free year-round.
- 1 medium onion, quartered
- 3 stalks celery, quartered
- 3 medium carrots, quartered
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Heaping ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 pound plum tomatoes, halved
- 3 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 4 cups chopped green cabbage
- ½ pound Yukon gold potatoes, chopped
- ¾ cup quick-cooking barley
- ¼ pound corned beef, cut into thin strips
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Pulse the onion, celery and carrots in a food processor until they are pea-sized pieces
- Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion, celery and carrots and the allspice and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are slightly softened, about 5 minutes
- Add the tomatoes to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer the tomatoes to the pot and add the beef broth, cabbage, potatoes, barley and 4 cups water; cover and bring to a boil
- Uncover, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the potatoes and barley are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the corned beef and season with salt and pepper
Per serving: Calories 352; Fat 11 g (Saturated 6 g); Cholesterol 38 mg; Sodium 349 mg; Carbohydrate 50 g; Fiber 9 g; Protein 16 g
Perfect for soaking up the day’s cocktails, Irish soda bread usually packs a hefty carb punch with little nutritional value. But this is a whole-wheat version adds fiber to help keep you sustained between meals.
- 2 cups whole-wheat flour
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 ¼ cups light buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 450°F
- In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together
- Make a well in the middle. Pour in about 2/3 cup of the buttermilk. With one hand, stir it into the dough in a circular motion. Add another 2/3 cup of the buttermilk. Stir again, until flour is incorporated. Repeat until buttermilk is gone, and dough is soft and sticky, but not too wet
- Turn dough out on to floured surface. Lightly knead dough a few times, until it’s a rounded loaf-like shape. Pat it down into a round, 2″-thick disc
- Transfer to a greased and floured baking sheet. With a serrated knife, cut a deep X across the bread. Prick each area a few times with the knife
- Bake 20 minutes on 450°F. Drop the heat to 400°F and bake an additional 30 to 35 minutes. Bread should appear finished and sound hollow when you knock on it
- Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack
Mock McDonald’s Shamrock Shake
Some sobering news: A 16-ounce serving of the seasonal Shamrock Shake contains 660 calories, 19 grams of fat and an incredible 93 grams of sugar. Make your own version at home for a fraction of the fat — and to tone down the sugar, try swapping in some frozen Greek yogurt for the regular frozen yogurt.
- 2 cups vanilla frozen yogurt
- 1 ¼ cups skim milk
- ¼ teaspoon mint extract
- 8 drops green food coloring
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed until smooth
- Divide into two cups, and serve each with a straw