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3 Surprisingly Healthy Irish Foods

By KERI GLASSMAN

Sláinte! (Sláinte means "health" and is a word commonly used in Ireland as a drinking toast.)

I could definitely blog about St. Patrick's Day and expound on corned beef and cabbage, potatoes, green juices, and beer. Those topics have not been exhausted yet and may never be. Inspiration is striking from a different direction this year. So close your eyes and envision the rolling green hills of Ireland, and come with me on a journey of food and culture as we celebrate St. Patty's Day from a new perspective.

1. Irish Breakfast Tea
You might not know this, but the Irish love their tea. The national average is four cups per person per day, with many people drinking six cups or more. The people of Ireland are 5th in the world in per capita consumption of tea, consuming 2 times as much tea per person as people in the United Kingdom! Irish Breakfast Tea is the most commonly sipped blend, and it is how young and old start their day. Traditionally, Irish Breakfast tea is a blend of Ceylon and Assam teas, and is served strong with milk.

The kettle is almost always on in most Irish homes and workplaces as there are three tea times: 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. This gorgeous tradition is not only a cultural connector, but also health-promoting habit. Tea is an antioxidant powerhouse. Served hot, it slows you down and helps to calm and soothe the stomach and soul.

2. Lakeshore Guinness Mustard
Irish foods tend to be simple, rustic, and comforting in nature. I wouldn't dream of a plate of corned beef and cabbage, or traditional Colcannon without the perfect condiment to compliment it. Pass the Lakeshore Mustard, please.  Nothing pairs better with the rustic flavors of Irish food than this spicy, tangy and zesty condiment. Mustard often gets a bad rap for its high sodium content, but a little bit of mustard goes a long way. Plus, it contains good nutrients!  Mustard is full of magnesium and selenium, which are famous for their anti-inflammatory properties. These nutrients can be especially helpful in battling asthma, arthritis and high blood pressure. Mustard seeds are also high in the phytonutrient glucosinolates, known for its role in fighting cancers of the GI tract. I have you drinking tea and eating mustard already, don't I?

3. Irish Oatmeal
Feeling like a Hibernophile (lover of Irish culture) yet? One of the most delightful and lovely immigrant foods to serve as a staple in my pantry is Irish oatmeal. Though it takes longer to cook than the standard rolled oat varieties, such as Quaker (which I grew up with, adore and recommend to this very day), Irish oatmeal feels like a totally different food. Irish oatmeal has a nuttier, crunchier texture when compared to conventional oatmeal because it is cut with steel blades when processed, rather than flattened like rolled oats. Rolled oats are softer and have a longer shelf life. Both types of oats are similar in nutritional value; they are high in fiber and B vitamins. I enjoy my Irish Oatmeal with blueberries and cinnamon to maximize the nutritional value of this comforting and delicious hot breakfast.

Tea, mustard, and Irish oatmeal. I'll celebrate the patron saint of Ireland with all three of these foods – all year long. Now, all I need are some rolling green hills, a shamrock and the Blarney Stone to smooch. Slainte!

-Keri

Keri is a contributing editor and advisory board member for Women's Health Magazine, and is the Nutrition and Health contributor for NBC's New York Live. She is regularly featured on national television programs including NBC's The Today Show, ABC's Good Morning America, Access Hollywood Live, The View, The Talk, The Chew, Dr. Oz, The Doctors, The Rachael Ray Show, The Steve Harvey Show, MSNBC, The Fox News Channel, and CNN. Keri hosts an original series called "A Little Bit Better" which is featured on Youtube's LIVESTRONG Woman channel.

Keri resides in New York City with her children, Rex and Maizy. Whether she is training for a marathon, going to the farmers' market, or drinking her nightly cup of herbal tea, Keri lives and breathes a Nutritious Life while inspiring others to do the same.

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