Can we get off the excess train and still treat our tastebuds?
There are heaps of Irish food producers who can help make January healthy and tasty
There are plenty of tasty and healthy foods made by Irish producers
It’s that treacherous time of year where we are collectively encouraged to feel guilty about the excesses of the holiday season, often from the same sources who whipped us up into a consuming frenzy in the first place. Making a tough month even more miserable by going on a flavour-limiting detox seems positively cruel. Why do we loathe ourselves so much?
We have more access than ever to food that makes us feel really good without compromising on nutrition or taste, and there are heaps of Irish food producers who are here for you, to help you make January healthy and tasty. It is possible to do both. Isn’t it?
Virginia O’Gara owns the outstanding gluten-free, sugar-free and vegan food business My Goodness (mygoodnessfood.com). O’Gara and her partner Donal run food stalls at festivals around the country and regularly at markets around Cork, including a permanent shop in The English Market in Cork city, selling jars of fizzy kimchi, raw and fermented cakes, and their take on the pupusa, a stuffed tortilla delicacy from El Salvador.
O’Gara grew up in Texas and one of her favourite treats as a kid was nachos covered in luminous cheesy sauce served with a giant gherkin on the side eaten at weekend football games. O’Gara developed her Notcho Cheeze, which is an astonishingly tasty mix of carrots, potatoes, Irish jalapenos, nutritional yeast and turmeric, alongside a few other good-time ingredients. Not only have the O’Garas nailed that trademark fluorescent colour but the taste is a whole other level of yumminess.
O’Gara also believes that introducing probiotics to our diet and nourishing our microbiome is a good way to softly recover from digestion excess. Their Kefir drink is for many of O’Gara’s customers’ a go-to for hangovers. “It’s really all about learning to love food, and to pay attention to how the food you’re eating is making you feel,” says O’Gara of Honest To Goodness. “People can worry about their consumption of food to the point of becoming neurotic – I think that’s a really unhealthy practice. Learning to have joy when you eat, to think of it as nourishment as much as it is for pleasure, is really important.”
For other Irish companies making healthy food that tastes quite simply amazing, keep an eye out for White Mausu (whitemausu.com) nut-based sauces, Synerchi Kombucha (synerchikombucha.ie) fizzy ferments which are brewed in Donegal, and MuTonics (mutonics.com), a west Cork drinks company, whose Jamu tonic is a powerful blend of turmeric, tamarind and ginger. For the best non-alcoholic beers on the market, pick up a can of Pure Brew made by the Open Gate Brewery at Guinness or ask your off-license to get you a few bottles of Mikkeller 0.3 per cent Drink’in in the Sun beer (even the name is cheerful) brewed in Denmark. The best non-alcoholic wine on the market is Fritz Muller’s lightly spritz white wine, available in good off licenses and Fallon & Byrne in Dublin.