A Skinny Feast for St. Patty’s Day
Will the luck o’ the Irish be with you this St. Patrick’s day as you try to keep from eating too many calories while enjoying traditional Irish fare? The good news is healthy eating doesn’t have to mean forgoing flavor and fun.
Speaking of flavor, March is also National Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.” An annual campaign of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, its registered dietitian nutritionist members encourage everyone to take time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to our lives. And St. Patrick’s Day is a perfect way to start. Read on to learn how a few simple changes can translate into calorie savings without sacrificing flavor.
Traditional Irish stew is made with lamb and root vegetables like potatoes, carrots and onion. It’s easy to trim fat and calories by using lean beef like bottom round for a beef stew with only 280 calories per serving. To reduce sodium use low-sodium broth and half the salt and add a little more onion and garlic, aromatic vegetables that boost flavor.
While Irish whiskey and green beer may be popular St. Patrick’s Day drinks, you can opt for a nearly calorie-free choice by adding a few drops of green food coloring to tangy low-calorie lemonade. It’s refreshing, hydrating and one glass provides 15 percent of the recommended daily vitamin C intake. Or create a low-calorie Irish coffee by stirring a 1/2 tsp. brandy or rum flavoring and a packet of aspartame into a hot cup of coffee. Top with a dollop of fat-free whipped topping.
Legend has it that St. Patrick planted a number of apple trees in Ireland so it’s no surprise that apples take center stage in a variety of Irish dishes from apple crumb cake and apple-potato bake to pork loin with roasted apples. So how about serving delicious apple cranberry strudel bites or baked apples to finish off your St. Patrick’s Day meal?
No matter what day of the year it is, you can savor the flavor of eating right by substituting low-calorie sweeteners for sugar in beverages and recipes and reducing sodium by using less salt and lower sodium canned goods in recipes while boosting flavor with aromatic vegetables, herbs and spices.
Neva Cochran, MS, RDN, LD is a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Dallas. She serves as a nutrition communications consultant to a variety of food and nutrition organizations, including the Calorie Control Council. She is passionate about promoting fact-based food and nutrition information to help people enjoy nutritious eating. Follow her on Twitter @NevaRDLD and check out her blog at www.NevaCochranRD.com.