There is no such thing as unhealthy food

JP McMahon: In my world, food is either nutritious or non-nutritious

To get nutrition into your diet during cold winter nights, try a warm tuna salad with baby potatoes and green beans. Photograph: iStock

To get nutrition into your diet during cold winter nights, try a warm tuna salad with baby potatoes and green beans. Photograph: iStock

 

January is a time synonymous with healthy eating when we all turn away from those food stuffs that we deem unhealthy. Now, as we all know, food is neither healthy nor unhealthy. It is people that must carry the weight of that word. In my world, food is either nutritious or non-nutritious, or at least somewhere between those two poles.

January is Health Month in The Irish Times. Throughout the month, in print and online, we will be offering encouragement and inspiration to help us all improve our physical and mental health in 2021. See irishtimes.com/health
January is Health Month in The Irish Times. Throughout the month, in print and online, we will be offering encouragement and inspiration to help us all improve our physical and mental health in 2021. See irishtimes.com/health

All that aside, have you noticed how hard it is to get those nutritious vegetables into yourself and the kids when it’s freezing outside. Green beans or buttery mash potatoes? Of course, on cold winter nights we may want to have a chip or two, but warm salads might help a little. Most vegetables we eat at this time of year travel to us from afar, especially anything green. For the sake of vitamins and minerals, however, I’ll forgo my usual ideology of localism. At least we have plenty of protein from this fair land that we can combine with these vegetables to make a beautiful winter salad.

Warm tuna salad with baby potatoes and green beans

A beautiful Irish product that I purchased recently in Dunnes Stores in Galway was canned yellowfin tuna from Shines. We are all used to canned tuna (it was probably the most consumed fish in our house growing up in Maynooth), but Shines takes canning to the next level and its products are up there with much of the Spanish seafood you can get in cans, such as mussels, clams, octopus and, of course, tuna. They also do sardines.

For some a salad needs to include lettuce, but that’s not necessarily the case. Boil some baby potatoes in salted water. When they are just about done, add a handful of green beans. Strain the lot a minute later and season with oil, sea salt and some type of acidity (lemon juice or a nice vinegar). Open your can of tuna and add a handful of chopped chives. Mix with the potatoes and green beans and enjoy. If you enjoy seeds, add a few sprinkles of linseeds for a fibrous crunch.

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