Food Coach

St. Patrick's Day meals that are tasty, healthy

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

For many Americans, St. Patrick's Day is all about green beer and corned beef. But there's a healthier way to celebrate while still sticking to the Irish tradition.

Gavan Murphy is a healthy Irish chef who has a lighter take on the festive fare.

"Typically, the food you'll have is bacon and cabbage, Irish stew, beef and Guinness stew - a lot of heavy stew dishes," said Murphy.

Murphy loves to cook these meals, but he swaps heavy fat often used in Irish cuisine with healthier ingredients.

"Everything I grew up eating was always mounded in butter and cream, so I like to make it a little bit lighter than that right now.," said Murphy.

His stew, for instance, is made with a lean cut of grass-fed beef braised in a bit of canola oil in lieu of butter with a bit of dark stout. Veggies make it hearty, yet healthy.

His Irish soda bread with just a handful of ingredients can be made in about 20 minutes. He uses whole meal flour, white flour, a little baking soda, a pinch of salt and a low-fat, not full-fat, buttermilk to whack fat calories. He mixes it up and then bakes it in the oven to create an appetizer.

"For the soda bread, a little Irish smoked salmon - obviously, perfect for St. Patrick's Day," said Murphey.

He tops it with a little lemon zest, Greek yogurt in lieu of creme fraiche and chopped chives.

And no Irish meal is complete without a potato dish, like Colcannon. Murphy says it's a very traditional dish of mashed potatoes with sautéed cabbage or kale.

And while many think potatoes are a dietary no-no, know this: potatoes contain something called resistant starch, which helps burn belly fat and makes you feel full. So the challenge with potatoes is what you put into them and portion sizes.

Murphy uses vegetable stock instead of butter or oil to flavor his spuds and colors them up with kale. On the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) index, which rates nutrients of food from 0 to 1000, kale gets 1000 out of 1000 points. It is the best vegetable.

And to honor cabbage in his heritage, Murphy created a smooth, creamy cabbage potato soup, although you'll be hard pressed to find the cabbage. It is totally kid-friendly.

See photos of healthy Irish dishes for St. Patrick's Day.

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food, recipe, holiday, food coach, lori corbin
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