Most holidays give us a reason to celebrate food, and St. Patrick’s Day is no exception. Some of us get into the spirit on March 17th by turning all of our foods green: green smoothies, green muffins, green eggs, and even green pancakes. Most of these foods are simple enough to make—as long as you have a blender and a bunch of kale.
Trying out traditional Irish foods is another way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Sure, the Irish are known for their stouts, ales, soda bread, and corned beef hash. But the traditional Irish diet also includes plenty of nutrient-dense foods—like lamb, seafood, kale, cabbage, and leeks.
If you are looking for some fresh ideas to serve up this St. Patrick’s Day, consider some of these delicious and healthy Irish recipes:
Stew is a simple, one-pot meal. Traditional Irish stew was made with mutton, which is meat that comes from adult sheep (compared with lamb, which comes from younger sheep). The potatoes, carrots, and onions in the stew provide vitamins complex carbohydrates.
Lamb and mutton are rich sources of high-quality protein as well as many vitamins and minerals (iron, selenium, zinc, and vitamin B12, to name a few). Lamb contains more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than other meats—a fatty acid that has been linked with many health benefits, including weight management.
Try this recipe: Paleo Slow Cooker Irish Stew
Irish Seafood Chowder
Seafood chowder is another one-pot meal, combining seafood with potatoes and vegetables. You can make this dish with any variety of fish and shellfish. The Irish traditionally combine salmon with white fish and a mixture of shrimp, crab, or mussels.
Seafood is one of nature’s best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Irish seafood chowder also includes onions and potatoes and is garnished with parsley—an herb that provides antioxidant compounds and can freshen your breath.
Try this recipe: Irish Seafood Chowder
Meat and potatoes are a theme in Irish cooking, and Shephard’s pie is a classic. It’s traditionally made with lamb, but ground beef can be substituted (some say it should be called “cottage pie” if it’s made with beef). You can mix nearly any vegetable into the meat for Shephard’s pie—like peas, onions, carrots, or kale.
Like stew and seafood chowder, Shephard’s pie provides high-quality protein with vegetables and complex carbohydrates. You can boost the nutritional value of the pie by mixing in a green leafy vegetable, like spinach or kale.
Try this recipe: Paleo Shephard’s Pie
Vegetarian Irish Lager Stew
You’ll find that many Irish recipes include lamb, beef, bacon, or seafood. Finding a vegetarian option might be tricky. Vegetarian Irish lager stew is made with a wide variety of vegetables and button or shitake mushrooms.
Mushrooms are packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D. Mushrooms contain a variety of compounds that are known to support immune function. Their many health benefits include the ability to support healthy digestion and weight management.
Try this recipe: Vegetarian Irish Lager Stew
Cabbage is an essential vegetable in the Irish diet, and you’ll see it in many traditional dishes. Buttered cabbage is one of the most basic dishes, made by just boiling the cabbage in a pot with butter.
Cabbage is in the Brassica family of vegetables, along with broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. These vegetables contain glucosinolates, isothiocyanates, and other health-promoting compounds. Many nutritionists recommend eating foods from this family of vegetables every day.
Try this recipe: Buttered Cabbage
Garlic-Roasted Cabbage Wedges
Roasting cabbage with garlic is another way to enjoy this traditional Irish food. Simply slice the cabbage into wedges and roast them in the oven with olive oil, garlic, and seasonings.
This recipe offers all the health benefits of cabbage along with the added benefits of garlic. Garlic is well known for its ability to support the immune system and heart health.
Try this recipe: Garlic-Roasted Cabbage Wedges
Irish Potato Leek Stew
Irish potato leek stew is a warming meal that is made from potatoes, leeks, broth, salt, and pepper. It’s an Irish classic and can be made quickly with an immersion blender or another type of blender.
Leeks are part of the Allium plant family, along with garlic, onions, and shallots. Leeks are a rich source of sulfur-containing compounds and other antioxidants. They also contain compounds that have anti-microbial effects and benefit liver and heart health.
Try this Recipe: Irish Potato Leek Stew
Colcannon is another traditional Irish dish that is made with potatoes and either cabbage or kale. It’s made by steaming the potatoes and greens and then mashing them with cream, butter, salt, and pepper.
Although some people shy away from eating white potatoes because of their starch content, potatoes are a nutritious whole food. In this recipe, the cream and the butter balance out some of the starch, and the kale provides loads of nutrients.
Try this recipe: Kale Colcannon
Boxty is a traditional Irish potato pancake. It is made with a mixture of mashed and raw (grated) potatoes that are combined with buttermilk and seasonings. Boxty can be served with eggs for breakfast or with a salad for lunch.
Although most traditional boxty recipes use flour as a thickener, you can substitute a mixture of brown rice flour and tapioca starch to make a gluten-free version.
Try this recipe: Traditional Irish Boxty
I hope you enjoy this festive Irish holiday. You might even learn a new recipe that will become a healthy staple in your diet!
Sarah Cook, ND