Whether you are of Irish descent or not, it seems like everyone around the United States is celebrating the nation's day of green. Most people know of St. Patrick's day as a day to wear green clothes, joke with the kids about Leprechaun, start yet another excuse to down some green beer and eat some hearty Irish foods. Though this mid-march practice seems like the farthest tradition away from a spring detox, there ARE some healthy options when having your jolly O' time. Below are some of the healthiest Irish food and drink options on this day of (bar) hoppin' and (arm) pinchin'.
Another very popular staple of the Irish is cabbage, a cruciferous powerhouse. Cabbage is used in so many Irish dishes, including the perennial favorite boiled bacon and cabbage. Popular in many weight-loss diets in the western world, this vegetable is an excellent source of vitamin C and folic acid. Cabbage also contains glucosinolates that can slow the spread of colon cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute in the United States.
Lamb contains all the normal health benefits of lean proteins: vitamin A, the B group vitamins, zinc, copper, magnesium, selenium, potassium and phosphate, and lamb has the added benefit of being a source of iron. Being a lean protein rich in iron makes lamb an especially healthy choice for women, because approximately 16 percent of women of child-bearing age suffer from iron deficiency, according to the Journal of American Medical Association.
It's not just red wine that is making positive health headlines these days. According to trusted sources such as the American Heart Association and the University of Wisconsin, researchers suggest that Ireland’s dark brew, Guinness, can reduce the risk of blood clots that cause heart attacks and improve blood flow and pressure. This is because of the antioxidant compounds called flavonoids found in the tasty stout. Though alcohol, in general, is very acidic and contains a lot of sugars, there are some gold benefits at the bottom of a pint. Drink responsibly and only a few times servings a week.
Rich in potassium, carbohydrates, vitamin C, B, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc, potatoes that are not deep fried in oils or processed and packaged are very healthy for the human body. Potatoes aid in digestion, provide the brain with energy, decrease body inflammation and also improve skin appearance. In many Irish dishes (such as potato hash), you can add some sauteed kale and garlic to boost immunity and heart health.
With the density of a yeast bread but are made in minutes, a healthier spin of the traditional Irish soda bread can definitely add some antioxidants, fiber, and other nutrients. Substitute traditional flour for sprouted garbanzo bean flour and sprouted barley flour. Add in almond meal, grounded flax, and hemp seeds. Substitute regular salt for Himalayan Pink Salt. The result is simply healthier and more bio-available nutrients!
One of my favorite superfoods to add to desserts and smoothies is chia seeds. They are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, protein, calcium and fiber. For an added bonus, they are gluten-free and when added to almond, rice or coconut milk, they become similar to tapioca and make delicious and fun to eat pudding! The best is to soaked the chia seeds in your desired liquid for 8-12 hours. I like to add organic raw agave to the mixture and serve it cold in little tasting bowls. It is refreshing and the lemon is very alkaline in the body after a delicious Irish feast!
(Additional Sources: Livestrong.com, delish.com, eatingwell.com)