Choose good-for-you food

We are spoiled for choice when dining out in Dublin these days, but with all the rich, delicious options, it’s important to eat as healthily as you can in your day-to-day life

Courgette, mint, and goatscheese fritatta Photograph: Eric Luke

Courgette, mint, and goatscheese fritatta Photograph: Eric Luke


When people question the progress that’s been made with regard to our food culture and restaurant scene in the capital, I like to remind people of what it was once like to eat in this city, let alone drink take-away coffee. People of a certain age may remember the old Patrick Guilbaud’s, in that little lane where portal windows looked into a smart kitchen. Le Coq Hardi and The Grey Door – along with the old Lock’s – were also great establishments.

More casual spots included the Periwinkle (where my sister Peaches was a chef) as well as the cafe above Next, which made the most delicious hot chocolates in the world, as far as this pre-teen was concerned at the time. Roly’s seemed to be the first bistro that made casual, fun, dining seem like a possibility.

Many of these former hot spots have been transformed entirely or ceased to exist, but the new cafes and restaurants that are opening nowadays (and sadly sometimes closing) are at an all time creative high. We are spoilt for choice, so much so that I feel incredibly out of the loop every time someone mentions the latest new place. Most young ones today would gasp at the thought of drinking take away coffee from a styrofoam cup and not being able to order a flat white.

Regular readers will know that I am a big fan of the vegetarian cafe, Cornucopia (which is thankfully still there). It hasn’t changed too much since I first starting frequenting it as an angry, teenage vegetarian. I now go there every time I am looking for nourishing food, which as we get older becomes more and more important to us. And because I am undergoing chemotherapy at the moment (as I’ve been recently diagnosed with breast cancer), a lunch there feels medicinal in the best possible way.

When I walk around town, it is great to also see that so much has changed for the better: good healthy Irish food is widely available, health food stores are plentiful, and super and raw foods are not just the fodder of a few health nuts.

Yet at the same time, there is great experimentation happening, with full-on, full-fat flavour, going at full throttle in many new establishments around town. I think you can definitely say that Dublin is having its eating-out moment.

Which is why I feel strongly that the tastier and richer the food is when we’re eating out, then the healthier we should try to make it at home when we’re feeding our families and ourselves on a daily basis.

These recipes are what I would consider good, wholesome food, and while I am not saying that eating chocolate tart is “good for you”, what I am trying to say is that you can make a “better for you” version of a classic. The growing number of specialist shops and food companies – Natasha’s Living Foods, take a bow – shows that people are keen to indulge in this type of treat. This tart is a hybrid recipe of my pal Susan Jane’s chocolate pots and several other nutritional cooks’ suggestions. A few kids and teens ate it and declared it, “not bad” – high praise indeed.

The courgette and mint frittata takes a simple concept and makes it tastier and a lot more interesting to eat.

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