Healthier recipes for St. Patrick’s Day

Healthy shamrock shake

St. Patrick’s Day is upon us! Between the traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage and a pint (or a few) of green beer, finding a nutritious holiday meal is a bit like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

Luckily, we have some alternatives for those who want to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a healthier way.

Virginia Mirenzi, a certified diabetes educator (CDE) with AAMG Diabetes and Endocrine Specialists, shares her picks for a tasty, yet healthy, St. Paddy’s Day.

Healthy Shamrock Shake

A large McDonald’s Shamrock Shake has 800 calories, 22 grams of fat and 131 grams of carbohydrates. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a trimmed-down version of this festive treat.

  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (or vanilla yogurt) or scoop of protein powder
  • 1 to 2 cups baby spinach
  • 4 fresh mint leaves or 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon mint extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup milk (almond, coconut, soy or cow’s milk)

Optional additions:

  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds, which help to thin the shake
  • A squirt of whipped cream or whipped topping
  • A sprinkling of chocolate chips or cacao nibs on top


Add ingredients to blender and process until smooth.  Pour into tall glass and top with whipped cream and chocolate chips or cacao nibs.

Nutrition facts:  200 calories, 4 grams of fat, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 16 grams of protein (varies with ingredient choices).

Quick “Corned” Beef

Traditional corned beef and cabbage can be loaded with sodium and take all day to fix.  Here is a quick twist on the tradition, inspired by a recipe from Eating Well magazine.

  • 2 tablespoons pickling spices
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, divided
  • 1 pound skirt steak, trimmed
  • 1 pound of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 2 cups mini carrots
  • 2 cups baby potatoes, halved
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons malt vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon yellow or Dijon mustard


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Grind pickling spices in a spice grinder or cleaned coffee grinder and combine in a small bowl with the dry mustard and salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.
  3. Toss the veggies in a large bowl with half the spice mixture and two tablespoons of oil. Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet.  Roast until tender for 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Rub the remaining mixture on the steak, and let marinate in spices for 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk 1 tablespoon of oil, vinegar and mustard with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a small bowl. Set aside this vinaigrette to drizzle on veggies before serving.
  6. When the veggies have been in the oven for 15 minutes, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook the steak, turning once, 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium rare, longer if you’d like it more well-done.  Let rest on a clean cutting board for 5 minutes, and then thinly slice against the grain.
  7. Drizzle the roasted vegetables with the vinaigrette and serve with the steak.

Serves 4.

Nutrition facts: 500 calories, 25 grams of fat, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 8.5 grams of fiber and 37 grams of protein per serving.

Traditional Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

  • 4 pounds corned beef, trimmed of any excess fat, and the seasoning packet that comes with it
  • 8 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 large onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 4 medium turnips, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 cup water


  1. Place the veggies in a slow cooker. The ideal slow cooker size is 6 to 7 quarts.
  2. Pour water on top.
  3. Sprinkle the spices from the seasoning packet over the meat and place meat on top of vegetables.
  4. Cover and cook for 7 to 8 hours on low, or 5 hours on high.
  5. Remove the corned beef form the slow cooker and let rest on a cutting board for 15 minutes. Thinly slice the meal across the grain. Place on platter with vegetables and serve with mustard or horseradish.

Serves 8.

Nutrition facts: 530 calories, 28 grams of fat, 35 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of fiber and 34 grams of protein.

Whether you’re of Irish heritage, or simply Irish at heart, we wish you a safe and fun St. Patrick’s Day!


Virginia Mirenzi, CDE, is a diabetes educator with AAMG Diabetes and Endocrine Specialists.

Originally published March 13, 2019. Last updated March 9, 2020.