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HU: Healthy University–Gear Up For a St. Patty’s Day Feast!

Traditions are often set in stone by the time you reach an age where you can cook for yourself, so why go against the traditional Irish meal on March 17th?  If you are worried about coming out as round as a pot of gold, you don’t have to worry anymore.   The same Irish goods you chow down on every year at this time of the month can be enjoyed without all of that guilt.  Follow these healthier versions of the classic St. Patrick’s Day meal – from the corned beef to the bread pudding!

Of course, St. Patrick’s Day just would not be the same without the corned beef and cabbage.  And while one component of this dish is a vegetable, it is hard to get around all that salty juice to even taste the cabbage.  This holiday, go with a less-salty version of the most important component to the feast by choosing an uncured cut of meat and trimming off the fat before cooking.  Hold off on adding too many spices since the corned beef is flavorful enough on its own and does not need added sodium.  Cook the corned beef traditionally, but with these added tips.  When it comes to cabbage, think outside the traditional box and make this red cabbage salad from Eating Well.  Feeling even more daring?  Make the cabbage into a delicious enough dish to stand on its own.  Cabbage soup can be a wonderful side dish to any corned beef, especially this extremely healthy recipe from Food.com.  Remember, change can be good – and better for you!

Soda bread is the traditional carb component of an Irish meal.  The name comes from the fact the bread uses baking soda instead of yeast to rise, and for some reason, this combination comes out as a slightly sweet, fantastic loaf of bread.  At any meal, the bread can be the most carbohydrate (and sometimes calorie heavy) dish, but this recipe from Epicurious takes soda bread to an entirely new, nutritious level.  Soda bread goes brown with the addition of whole wheat flour, wheat bran, and wheat germ.  Feel free to add some raisins to the recipe if you want a sweeter version.

After all the heavy food at a feast, sometimes it is impossible to get a dessert down.  But since this meal is lighter than usual, feel free to try out some of these better-for-you versions of classic Irish finishers.  Irish coffee is the perfect ending to a classic meal like this, but this cup of Joe hides a lot of calories.  Instead of using heavy cream and lots of sugar, this version from Post South uses Reddi whip and sugar substitute. 

If you have saved room for a bigger dessert, bread pudding can be your best option.  This recipe from My Recipes lightens up with low fat milk and light butter.  By no means is it the healthiest option on the menu, but everyone deserves dessert on a special occasion! 

Whether you are Irish or not, the opportunity to make a traditional St. Patrick’s Day feast should never be passed up.  These healthier options are an even better reason for you to go all-out on the big day. 

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