Health

A Healthy Indulgence in All Things Irish

St. Patrick's Day celebrations start early and last long — here's how to dig in and partake yet not pack on the pounds

‘Tis the season when we’re all a little bit Irish. Millions of Americans, Irish or not, will be out this St. Patrick’s Day weekend in search of that traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage.

While it’s hard to beat the traditional recipe, those watching their weight and their health should know that the traditional recipe often comes with a hefty dose of saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Watching your portions and eating smartly will allow you to enjoy the holiday and the food.

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Some other ideas to help you better enjoy traditional Irish fare: Load up on cabbage and carrots versus other ingredients. Carrots are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber and cabbage contains vitamins K, C, and B6, according to Julie Ross, a certified personal trainer and creator of The Healthy Home Cook, in Pensacola, Florida.

Otherwise, for those who may be dishing up some traditional fare at home, “I like to swap out lentils for beef in homemade cabbage rolls or swapping mashed cauliflower for potatoes in shepherd’s pie,” Ross told LifeZette. “Being healthy is all about being creative. Just because something is ‘healthy’ doesn’t mean it has to be boring or bland.”

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Ross also recommends we go for as much green as we can, with the exception of anything that’s been dyed that color. Go for avocados, kale, and cucumbers whenever possible.

To get great flavor without the additives found in store-bought corned beef, the editors at the Eating Well website recommend rubbing ground pickling spice onto steak instead.

They add that lamb and beef stew are fairly healthy from the start, as they’re rich in potatoes, leeks, and carrots. Nothing is browned — everything is simply stewed together. All we really need to do is trim the meat of any visible fat before we cook it.

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And while we hate to mess with traditional fish and chips, we can cut the calories in half and reduce the fat by coating the fish in a crispy corn flake crust and then baking it along with sliced potatoes. Coleslaw and malt vinegar or lemon wedges are always a great side.

“I believe being healthy and living a healthy lifestyle is all about letting yourself indulge every once in a while,” said Ross. “You don’t have to restrict yourself 24 hours a day — no one wants to live a life of constant dieting. You should, however, be aware of how often you ‘indulge’ and make sure to compensate for it, either by working out or eating clean the rest of the time.”

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