Many of us, right around this time of year, start to see the world through green-colored glasses. And with today being St. Patrick’s Day, it almost seems like everything has been dyed a vibrant green – especially our food. There’s green beer and Shamrock shakes, cupcakes and royal icing on cookies saturated with green food coloring, and mint- or lime-flavored ice creams and jell-os galore. It’s certainly festive, but to what lengths do we go for the simple thrill of creating a colorful plate? Somehow, I don’t think this is what MyPlate had in mind when it advised us to “eat the rainbow.”
Although the FDA has recently voted against labeling foods that contain artificial dyes with warnings, claiming that these additives are safe for most people, there is still doubt among many consumers. Many studies have shown associations between artificial food dyes and hyperactivity in children, although some have so far as to even suggest a link between these additives and cancer. The bottom line is that the research is still new, and we just can’t say with 100% confidence whether or not these dyes, are in fact safe for the general public.
But does that mean you have to give up your St. Patty’s Day festivities and sit at home munching on green salad for kicks? Absolutely not! There are plenty of ways to incorporate healthy, dye-free green foods into your celebrations – without feeling like a rabbit. Here are some healthy, but still exciting ways to get your green on this St. Patty’s Day:
- Why not start your morning off with a Good Luck Egg – an baked into a green pepper shaped like Shamrock?
- Treat yourself, your friends and family to a festive mid-morning fruit treat with a rainbow fruit salad, complete with a pot of gold!
- For lunch, get in the orange and green spirit with an avocado stuffed sweet potato, or dunk you favorite veggies into an easy avocado-tofu dip.
- For a mid-afternoon or after-school snack, you could whip up your own healthy version of a Shamrock Shake! There are so many recipes out there, many – like this one from Chocolate Covered Katie – without the use of any food dye at all.
- For dinner, why not make things a little bit more exciting and whip up a nice, green edamame veggie burger, and use homemade Irish soda bread as buns? This meal is so easy to make and delicious to boot – you’ll forget all about those loaves of bread dyed a fake green. Scroll down for the recipe!
- And last but not least, we can’t forget about dessert! Choose from any number of recipes out there: Green Cupcakes using spinach, green ice cream (mint chocolate chip, green tea, or avocado) or a simple sweet avocado pudding – all sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.
There are dozens of simple yet truly healthy recipes out there to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, proving that you can, in fact, have your green cake and eat it too!
Recipe: Edamame Burgers with Irish Soda Buns
yields 4 servings
1 1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
2/3 tsp baking soda
1/3 tsp salt
2 2/3 Tbsp rolled oats
2/3 c buttermilk
2 cup frozen shelled edamame beans, thawed
1 cup cooked chickpeas (drained and rinsed if canned)
3/4 tsp each: paprika, ground coriander, and ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 c whole grain breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly grease a baking sheet. Prepare the rolls by combining all of the dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and then pouring in the buttermilk.
2. Stir until the dough comes together, and forms into 4 rounds. Place the rounds onto the prepared sheet and bake in the preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes, at which point the rolls should be nicely domed and golden-brown.
3. Meanwhile, combine all of the patty ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until coarsely mixed. Do not add water.
4. Form the mixture into approximately 4 patties, roughly the size of the rolls.
5. When the rolls have around 4-5 minutes left, saute the patties in the pan (heated with olive oil) until a light, slightly crisp crust develops on both sides (flip once).
6. When the rolls are done and cool enough to handle, slice them in half and serve with the patties and any desired, additional toppings.
Hot Cooking Tips:
- You can make your own buttermilk by combining 2/3 cup regular milk with 2 tsp lemon juice.
- Make your own preservative-free breadcrumbs by food processing leftover bread! I often use the butts of my loaves, but have heard from parents of kids whose kids don’t like their crusts that they just use those. Stick them in the freezer and they keep for a long time!
What’s your favorite “green” food to eat on St. Patrick’s Day?
Jessica Serdikoff is the chief blogger behind Floptimism, a blog where Jessica shares deliciously inspiring recipes and tales of life as a nutrition student. Follow Floptimism on Facebook and Twitter.