It’s that time of year again where everyone is Irish, even if only for a day. The challenge with the dishes traditionally served on St. Patrick's Day is that much of this Irish fare is packed full of refined carbohydrates, saturated fat, and sugar. And while a plate full of steamed green veggies is the right color scheme, there's no reason to deprive yourself of other goodies. In fact, I made it my mission this year to round up some of my favorite St. Patrick’s Day recipes created by amazing dietitian bloggers and recipe developers. You've got entrees options, side dishes, dessert, and even a Shamrock Shake! I mean, my name is Erin after all, how could I not make sure you can enjoy a healthy Saint Patrick’s Day?!
No Saint Patrick’s Day celebration can be complete without the traditional loaf of Irish soda bread. Although this sweet bread can be a crowd pleaser, the standard version is packed full of refined carbohydrates, added sugars, and butter. These ingredients can elevate blood sugar levels and cholesterol if you aren’t careful. So what is a bread-loving Irishman to do? Why not try making this Whole Grain Irish Soda Bread by registered dietitian and food blogger Julia Robarts, RD of Juggling with Julia. By simply swapping the flour for a whole grain alternative and reducing the amount of added sugar and butter called for in the traditional recipe, you can enjoy a great tasting alternative without the negative impact on blood sugar and health.
In my Irish family, it’s not a party without a large casserole of Shepard’s pie. Sure, this dish may seem healthy since it can be packed full of vegetables, but the traditional recipe calls for large amounts of butter, cream, and high-fat protein such as ground lamb and cheese. Top that off with a layer of mashed potatoes and starchy vegetables such as corn and peas, and you have a calorie-laden dish that is sure to spike blood sugar levels. But you don’t need to skip this dish all together. Luckily healthy food blogger Missy Somers of Behind the Plates has come to the rescue with this delicious Slimmed Down Sweet Potato Shepard’s Pie. In this recipe, the white potatoes have been swapped for the lower glycemic sweet potatoes while the cream has been replaced with low fat milk. The butter has been significantly reduced to only one tablespoon for the entire recipe and the protein has also been slimmed down by selecting lean ground beef and ground turkey breast. Top it off with a combination of starchy and non-starchy vegetables and you have a fiber-filled, nutrient-rich dish that your company is sure to love.
Vegan Cauliflower Colcannon
Colcannon can make a delicious side dish for any Irish celebration, but the standard version is packed full of butter, bacon, and potatoes. Although there is nothing wrong with having potato, when you are hoping to enjoy a bit of Irish soda bread and Shepherd's pie at the same mean, you need to monitor your total carbohydrate intake. That’s why this Vegan Cauliflower spin on colcannon by dietitian Kara Lydon, RD is such a great option. By replacing the potato with cauliflower and removing almost all of the added fat, you have a vegetable packed side dish,which is low in calories, carbohydrates, and packed full of nutrients. With a dish like this, you can celebrate the Irish everyday without any guilt!
Sure a fast food Shamrock Shake is only offered at limited times throughout the year, but that doesn’t mean you have to get one. A large McDonald’s Shamrock Shake contains 820 calories and 135 grams carbohydrates . That’s more than an entire meals worth of calories and carbs! All of the excess sugar can really pack on the pounds and raise your blood sugar. But don’t worry, dietitian Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN of Nutrition Starring You has you covered. Her Minty Green Shamrock Smoothie contains all of the same great taste with only 127 calories and 18 grams of carbohydrate. That’s definitely an alternative that makes you want to celebrate.
Irish Pub Salad Transformed
If you hear the word salad, you most often think healthy, but that’s not always the case. Although a traditional Irish pub salad contains vegetables, it can also be packed full of fat from the added mayonnaise and cheese. To help reduce your overall calorie and saturated fat intake while increasing your intake of nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, give this Broccoli Slaw Salad by Amy Gorin, RD a try. In this recipe, the mayonnaise is replaced with monounsaturated fat rich olive oil and avocado. The added addition of flax seeds and almonds provides an extra boost of healthy fats, fiber, and protein. This slaw is sure to be a crowd favorite at any gathering.
Guinness stew made with beer, beef, mashed potatoes, and vegetables is standard pub fare in Ireland, however the standard ingredients leave much to be desired for health. With a few simple swaps, dietitian Sharon Palmer, RD transforms this one-dish meal into Vegan Guinness Stew, a plant-based option that is actually good for you. By using plant-based milk and swapping the beef for tempeh, the saturated fat content is slashed while still providing a good source of lean protein. And since the only source of carbohydrate in this recipe comes from the non-starchy vegetables and four small Russett potatoes, you can enjoy a serving along with your meal without risking large spikes in blood sugar.