Nutrition Corner: There’s a wee bit of Irish in all of us

Nutrition Corner Mary R. Ehret -

Everyone is Irish on St. Patty’s Day. Some of us may celebrate St. Patty’s Day even if we’re not Irish.

Whether you plan to go to the parade or enjoy an Irish dish, both can be a healthy addition to your St Patty’s Day weekend.

This is the time of year we catch short periods of time to be outdoors. With daylight savings time just around the corner, our outdoor times will only get longer.

Going to a parade is fun and can enlighten our mood. Find that green apparel and plan to go. Outdoor activities like parades can reduce feelings of stress, helping us to sleep better and improve our overall esteem. Moving our bodies gives us additional benefits, too. It can reduce the risk of many diseases and keep our bones, muscles and joints healthy.

If you go to a St Patty’s Day parade, here are some simple ways to move your body more. Park your car and walk to the parade. This will increase your activity and reduce your stress of trying to find a close parking spot. Stand and move your body periodically to the music. This will also increase your activity.

The Irish cuisine includes many healthy “green” vegetables. Green veggies give us many nutrients for just a few calories. Broccoli, romaine, kale, collard greens, deep colored lettuces, unpeeled cucumbers and spinach are just a few.

Broccoli is an old standby, but if you have not had it in a long time, it’s a good choice. It’s low in calories, high in vitamin C, and a good source of both folate and vitamin A. Broccoli also contains phytochemicals that may help protect eyesight and prevent cancer.

Kale is a moderately priced vegetable and easy to make. Serve it both in a stir-fry and by itself sautéed in olive oil and garlic. One serving (¾ cup) of kale has 155% of your bodies’ Vitamin A needs for the day and 100% of Vitamin C.

Prewashed mixed greens are ready to enjoy as a salad. However, did you ever wonder what the names of the greens are? Look at the label. Most commercial bags of mixed greens have escarole, endive, romaine both green and red, green and red leaf lettuce, Boston, and the list goes on. All of these are low in calories; however beware, the salad dressing may not be low in calories. Check the portion size and calories per serving to keep the calories down.

Prepare greens with food safety in mind. Lettuces may come prewashed or triple washed. It would clearly be written on the label. All greens that do not say “ready to eat” on the label need to be washed, even if they are labeled organic. Do not wash “prewashed” greens.

Here is an easy recipe for Irish stew. Complete the meal with Irish soda bread and a green salad.

Irish Stew

2 large onions

6 carrots

1-2 lbs beef or lamb, cut into chunks

8 large potatoes- unpeeled and scrubbed

2-3 bay leaves

3 tbs vegetable or beef base– low sodium

Pepper to taste

Wash and cut all vegetables into bite size pieces. Add potatoes, meat and 3 quarts water to a large pot. Bring to a boil. Add carrots, onions, and vegetable or beef base, bay leaves and pepper to taste. Simmer on low for 40 minutes or until meat is fully cooked and potatoes are soft. Enjoy!

Nutrition Corner Mary R. Ehret Corner Mary R. Ehret

Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at

Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at