For most people, St. Patrick’s Day is not generally deemed the healthiest day of the year. But when it comes to food, think outside the green food dye box used to make cupcakes, cookies and green beer. Instead, try using these five super healthy green foods to make some festive treats for your St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
Spiced Green Apples
Research shows daily consumption of apples (one or two per day) can lower your risk of heart disease and help you maintain a healthy weight. Apples are a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants for good health. To make warm cinnamon apples, slice a tart green apple and toss with cinnamon and nutmeg. Then cook apple mixture in a saucepan over medium-heat with a little butter until apples are tender. As an added bonus, cinnamon has also been shown to promote heart health and weight management.
Pistachio Kiwi Parfait
Naturally green from the antioxidant lutein, pistachios are one of the lowest calorie lowest fat snack nuts so you can enjoy 30 pistachios for about 100 calories. Plus, pistachios are a good source of protein and fiber to help keep your energy levels up and your hunger at bay. Layer Greek yogurt with sliced kiwis and chopped pistachios for a healthy green treat that works anytime of the day.
Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothie
Fresh mint leaves add a fresh flavor and provide powerful antioxidants to many different recipes. Peppermint has been used for centuries to treat colds and ease digestive problems. For a healthy St. Patrick’s Day treat, make a yogurt smoothie with mint, chocolate chips and leafy greens. If you’re short on time, grab a Urban Remedy’s Mint Cacao Chip organic shake with spinach, making it a vitamin-rich drink loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C, and iron.
Avocado Deviled Eggs
A nutrient-dense fruit, avocados provide a creamy texture that makes it easy to get more fruit in your diet. They offer nearly 20 vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients for good health. Plus, more than 75 percent of the fat in avocados in the “good” unsaturated type. For a savory green treat, make avocado deviled eggs. Simply mix in ripe avocado to your normal deviled egg recipe and the filling will turn a pretty green. Garnish with cilantro for some added green appeal.
Candy Green Grapes
Grapes are a super easy and healthy food to include in your diet. A serving of grapes (3/4 cup) contains just 90 calories and provides vitamin K, potassium, and antioxidants for good health. Plus, research shows grape polyphenols may contribute to a healthy heart, and may help defend against a variety of age-related and other illnesses. For a frozen St. Patrick’s Day dessert, candy grapes are a real emerald treat. To make candy grapes, wash green grapes, roll them in lime flavored jello powder, let them freeze and enjoy.
Patricia Bannan is a Los Angeles-based registered dietitian specializing in nutrition and health communications. She is the author of "Eat Right When Time Is Tight: 150 Slim-Down Strategies and No-Cook Food Fixes." Follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.