Healthy Town blog: Cookery demo attracts the crowds

Chef Catherine Fulvio joins dietitian Janis Morrissey for demonstration on healthy eating

A bottle of wine contains the same amount of calories as a portion of burger and chips. Photograph: Thinkstock

A bottle of wine contains the same amount of calories as a portion of burger and chips. Photograph: Thinkstock


It’s amazing what a focus on healthy eating can do to attract crowds! The highlight of Week 2 in the Healthy Town programme in Athlone was the cookery demonstration by chef Catherine Fulvio and the presentation on healthy eating by Irish Heart Foundation dietitian Janis Morrissey on Tuesday night.

The Sheraton Athlone Hotel played host to the duo and the room was full. There was a great sense of anticipation as everyone – mainly women – listened and watched intently to both the healthy eating tips and the cookery demonstration.

Janis gave some excellent tips on healthy eating and was followed by Catherine’s cookery demo, during which she regularly consulted Janis for advice on various ingredients she used in her recipes.

Eat less bad fats, swap fatty meat with lean meat and opt for low fat dairy products were among the useful tips on offer.

“Portion size matters. Portion sizes have increased over the past couple of decades. Cut down on portion size and reduce calories,” she advised.

Small changes can have a big impact on our lifestyles, she added. “Make small changes over time, gradually. Small changes to your lifestyle over time actually can make a really big difference. “Know the difference between good and bad fats,” she said.

She addressed the effects of alcohol on the system, saying that too much alcohol can affect many parts of the body; blood pressure, the heart and weight. The recommended maximum amount of alcohol per week for men is 17 standard drinks and 11 for women.

She did cause a reaction when she delivered the message that a bottle of wine is the same as burger and chips, with a calorie count of 550. This is more than a quarter of the average woman’s daily calorie allowance!

Tips to control alcohol consumption include keeping at least three days a week alcohol free, keeping a drink diary, spacing out alcohol over the course of the week, alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and eating before drinking alcohol.

All of her tips appeared to resonate with the enthusiastic audience, as did the cookery demo with Catherine, which included Fish Parcels with Oven Baked Sesame Sweet Potato Chips and Chargrilled Summer Courgettes and Aubergines on a Bed of Leaves, Orange and Radish Salad Drizzled with a Lemon Thyme Dressing.

In a nutshell, she showed that tasty dishes don’t have to be laden with calories and bad fats. You can be clever, enjoy your meals and focus on healthy eating at the same time.

This week’s theme in Healthy Town Athlone is ‘Men’s Health’. A public talk with Finian Murray of the Men’s Health Forum will take place at the Sheraton Athlone Hotel on Wednesday at 7pm.