Healthy Lifestyle

Healthy St. Patrick's Day tips and mash potato recipe

A young girl celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, wearing shamrock glasses, a green sundress with flower decals and waving a small, Irish flag.


Give these St. Patrick’s Day nutrition tips the greenlight so you can stay healthy while celebrating!  


By Alexandra Porricelli Registered Dietitian, Nuvance Health


Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day while keeping your nutrition top of mind, doesn’t have to be difficult. Dieting or watching what you eat could be challenging because the holidays tend to throw you off your normal eating routine, but you don’t need the luck of the Irish to enjoy a tasty St. Patrick’s Day meal


Here are a few tips on how to balance celebration with good nutrition on St. Patrick’s Day, including an Irish-themed meal recipe!



Why your nutrition matters most 


St. Patrick’s Day is a fun time of the year, but it’s important to remember that what you eat can play a role in your overall health. Eating well during the holidays can help you to stay healthy and enjoy more celebrations all year long.


Good nutrition also helps your immune system stay strong. St. Patrick’s Day often means being around a lot of people, food and alcohol. A strong immune system can help you stay healthy and avoid getting sick. Food with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants can boost our immune system and keep you feeling your best. Natural antioxidants ease inflammation in your body and have a variety of other digestive health benefits, including relief from constipation or irritable bowel syndrome. By choosing nutritious foods, you can enjoy St. Patrick’s Day while staying healthy.


Healthier food choices for St. Patrick’s Day


St. Patrick’s Day is a time for fun and delicious food. Instead of heavy, high-calorie dishes, try these healthier options:

  • Leafy green vegetables: Leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale are full of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Broccoli and Brussels sprouts are also great side dishes to accompany your St. Patrick’s Day meal and will leave you feeling full and satisfied

  • Healthier versions of corned beef and cabbage: If you are looking for alternatives to traditional corned beef and cabbage, which contains over 982 mg of sodium and 116 mg of cholesterol in just one four ounce serving, try grilled salmon or a vegetarian shepherd's pie.

  • Balance portions: No matter the occasion, it’s always important to have a balanced plate with all food groups. If you’re excited to eat some corned beef and cabbage, just be sure to balance your plate with healthier food choices such as Irish soda bread, a salad or steamed vegetables such as carrots.


How to have a balanced St. Patrick’s Day celebration


St. Patrick’s Day is a time to gather with loved ones and celebrate, but it’s important to practice moderation when it comes to drinking and eating. Here are some tips:


Drink alcohol in moderation: Too much alcohol can be harmful to your overall health. Alternate alcoholic drinks with water and know your limits. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s dietary guidelines for Americans, moderate drinking of alcohol is considered 2 drinks or less in a day for men or 1 drink or less in a day for women. If you are taking medications and are unsure if you can drink alcohol, speak to your doctor.



Never drink and drive. Don’t test your luck, plan to have a designated driver or arrange for a ride-share service to bring you home. According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, during the 2020 St. Patrick’s Day period from 6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18, more than a third (36%) of crash fatalities involved a drunk driver. From 2016 to 2020, 287 people were killed because of drunk-driving crashes during the St. Patrick’s Day period. 



Stay active: Participate in a local St. Patrick’s Day parade with family and friends. You can also join a St. Patrick’s Day walk or run to stay active and burn calories.



Add more green to your meals: Incorporate green vegetables into your dishes for added nutrients such as spinach, kale, leeks, green onion and fresh herbs.



Recipe: Green-Mash Potatoes


Try this easy-to-make St. Patrick’s Day-themed mash potato recipe that is just as tasty as it is festive in color!  



  • 7 potatoes (medium size, about 1 cup each)

  • 1 cup skim milk (divided)

  • 2 garlic cloves (peeled)

  • 1 cup frozen peas

  • 2 tablespoons soft (tub) margarine

  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper (optional)

  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt



  • Simmer peeled, diced potatoes for about 10 minutes until soft when pierced with a fork.
  • Cook 1 cup peas in microwave for about 3 minutes; drain and reserve.
  • Heat milk until hot. Add garlic cloves to milk and let stand for 5 minutes.
  • Puree peas, 1/4 cup milk, and garlic cloves using a blender.
  • Drain potatoes and begin to mash.
  • Slowly add 3/4 cup milk while mashing.
  • Blend in the puréed peas and garlic, margarine, and white pepper (optional) to the mashed potatoes.
  • Place mashed potatoes in a serving dish and keep warm.
  • Just before serving, lightly sprinkle Kosher salt on top of potatoes.

Recipe courtesy USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion



The bottom line: While it may be challenging to stick to a healthy diet during holidays, you don’t need the luck of the Irish to maintain a balanced approach to eating healthy. By making conscious choices and incorporating healthier options into your meals, you can enjoy the festivities without compromising your health. Remember, good nutrition is key to staying healthy so, this St. Patrick’s Day, raise a pint to good health and enjoy a delicious, nutritious meal with your loved ones! Sláinte!