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St. Patrick’s Day is known for everything from leprechauns to limericks. But at The Pickled Beet, we believe that one of the most powerful ways to experience another culture is to eat the foods that matter most to them. A shared meal can truly help you understand the history of a land and its people in an entirely new way—not to mention, a delicious way.

St. Patrick’s Day dinner table setting.

We invite you to make this St. Patrick’s Day a culinary celebration. Try foods you haven’t tried before. And as you’ll discover, eating green doesn’t have to be about drinking beer dyed with food coloring. It can be quite healthy (although we won’t judge you if you pair any of these dishes with a Guinness!)).  

Traditional Irish Foods To Help You Eat Green

Colcannon 

If you’ve never heard of colcannon, you aren’t alone. This isn’t exactly a dish you typically see on a menu, even at your local Irish pub! 

Colcannon is creamy mashed potatoes with greens mixed in. Just saute or steam your greens and incorporate them into your mashed potatoes. It is that simple. 

Traditional colcannon.

You can use any sort of leafy vegetable such as cabbage or swiss chard, but we recommend kale for its iron, Vitamin K, and plenty of antioxidants! And for a healthier creamy mashed potato, try using milk instead of cream.

Mushy Peas

Mushy peas are sort of like a sibling to your tried-and-true mashed potatoes. Much like the more popular side dish, they are peas that are soaked in water and baking soda, simmered until soft, and then mashed up with butter. 

Mushy peas.

To really make this the traditional Irish way, you need to use the right kind of peas. Marrowfat peas are allowed to age longer, and they tend to taste more starchy. This makes them the perfect base for a hearty dish of mushy peas. But make your own (not out of a tin), and you get all that fiber and Vitamin K, sans the preservatives. Check out a full recipe here

By the way, we recommend experimenting with leaving the butter out. You might find olive oil to be an excellent swap. Adding herbs and spices such as fresh basil will add enough flavor that you hardly miss it! 

Leek & Potato Soup

Potatoes are a controversial topic. And for people watching their carbs, or for those on a low-glycemic diet, they can be problematic. But the truth is, in moderation, potatoes can be healthier than you think. 

That’s why we love the idea of a good leek and potato soup to help you eat green on St. Patrick’s Day. Nevermind that William Shakespeare once proclaimed leeks a symbol of Welsh pride in his play Henry V. Any Irish cook would tell you that a bowl of potato and leek soup on a cold winter’s day is just about a must-have for the Emerald Isle as well!

Potato leek soup.

Potato and leek soup is delicious. And if its flavor isn’t enough to love on its own, leeks contain a flavonoid called kaempferol which has been shown to have all sorts of promising benefits. According to WebMD, it might be helpful in fighting off anything from diabetes to cancer. 

Check out this vegan version of a potato-leek recipe from Vegan Huggs and give it a try! 

(Vegan) Corned Beef & Cabbage

Corned Beef and cabbage is just about a must for any St. Patrick’s Dinner party. And if you are vegan, you might be surprised! There are ways to truly eat green and do a vegan modification of this dish. You could switch the corned beef out for seitan, but for gluten-free diets, this could be problematic. We think that corned jackfruit is the way to go on this one. Not only does jackfruit host tons of health benefits, but done right, we think it replaces corned beef just fine. Check out this vegan corned jackfruit and cabbage recipe from Veggie Society if you want to give it a try!

Traditional corned beef and cabbage.

Prefer a more traditional corned beef dish? We’ve got you covered there, too! Check out our popular recipe (and learn a bit of fun history about the dish along the way!) here.

Shamrock Shakes (A Healthier Alternative!) 

There might not be a more ubiquitous signal that St Patrick’s Day is upon us than the heralded arrival of McDonald’s Shamrock Shake. For some, this is practically a ritual. People will drive from McDonald’s to McDonald’s on the hunt for this minty-green ice cream treat. 

But, of course, this sweet treat is chock full of sugars and calories. Hardly delicious to your body when you think about it. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up your sweet green beverage this St. Patrick’s Day.

A plant-based version of a “shamrock shake.”

You can find dozens of alternative recipes on the internet, but we particularly like this recipe from Chocolate-Covered Katie. It throws in spinach, banana, and cacao nibs, and it only takes minutes to make. Make one and you won’t only eat green–you’ll drink green as well!  

Whether you are STILL trying to shed that “quarantine fifteen” or simply want to live a healthier lifestyle, we can help! Our personal chef services will forever change your relationship with food. You’ll find that “common” ingredients become something magical when cooked right.