Those mischievous leprechauns may be playing tricks on us with gallons of green beer and Shamrock Shakes, but what about more traditional Irish fare? The pot of gold lies deep inside a nutrient-packed Irish feast. Let’s take a look at the some of the ways you can make this St. Patty’s Day special by whipping up (or ordering out) a nutritious Irish meal.

Corned Beef
Corned beef is brisket that has been salt cured, so it is very high in sodium. A small 3 oz portion has 40 percent of your daily sodium allowance as well as more than 25% of the recommended intake of saturated fat and cholesterol. For a healthier alternative, try picking a lean, low-sodium corned beef. An uncured cut of meat will also be lower in sodium, and be sure to trim the fat from the meat before cooking.

Cabbage
This leafy cruciferous vegetable is a good source of vitamin K, vitamin C and fiber as well as bone-promoting calcium. If you find the boiled version a bit off-putting, try some coleslaw, but skip those laden with mayo and opt for a vinegar-based dressing instead.  Or, get in your probiotics with some fermented kimchi.

Potatoes
White potatoes often get a bad rap, mostly because they’re a good vehicle for lots of unhealthy things like butter, sour cream and bacon. The potato is actually a healthy choice – fat free, as much protein as an egg and the skin packs about 25 percent of your daily fiber. Potatoes are also a good source of vitamin C, iron, potassium and folate, just to name a few nutrients. Or try a sweet potato for an even greater nutritional punch.

Beer & Whiskey
Now that we know that beer is good for our hearts, we don’t have to feel guilty about going to the pub for a pint or two each day. The cardiovascular benefits of beer (and wine) are mostly attributed to the alcohol content, so if whiskey is your thing you can have an ounce here and there. Frequent overindulgence, however, has damaging health effects not to mention the dangers of binge drinking.

Soda Bread
Soda bread uses baking soda instead of yeast as a leavening agent, hence the name. Buttermilk is also a key ingredient, contributing calcium and health-promoting probiotics. If you’re up for making your own, try this recipe that features whole grains to produce bread that boasts lots of fiber for cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health.

So maybe the luck of the Irish can be turned around with a healthy take on the traditional. Erin go Bragh!

About Sarah Atwood, MS, RD

Sarah is a Registered Dietitian with a Masters in Clinical Nutrition from New York University where she completed her dietetic internship in partnership with NYU Langone Medical Center, the NYU Pediatric Dental Clinic, and Gay Men’s Health Crisis. Her interests include pediatric and maternal nutrition, food policy, and sustainable food production. She is an enthusiastic cook and foodie who taught nutrition and cooking lessons with City Harvest’s Operation Frontline while in NYC. When she’s not chasing her newly mobile baby girl, Sarah enjoys exploring her new Boston neighborhood, discovering restaurants, and enjoying the occasional craft brew.

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