Get back to basics with these traditional Irish recipes for World Health Day on April 7.

Rather than looking at faddy diets and new food trends, we’d rather look back and remember the old adage that if you want to eat healthily eat as your grandparents did.

Irish food has developed a bad rap as being heavy and stodgy but this is not the case. It’s true that you can dine out on full Irish breakfasts and mashed potatoes with cream, but there is much more to Irish cuisine.

In fact, the beauty of the traditional Irish diet is that it changed very little between the late 1800s and the mid-1900s. Its ingredients were based on local food or foods that could be easily imported. What was created was a simple diet made up of local and healthy foods.

Here are some of our favorite healthy and hearty Irish recipes:

1. Irish Stew

Irish stew (Getty)

Irish stew (Getty)

During the cold winter months, a hearty Irish stew is the perfect meal to come home to. What could be healthier than a pot of vegetables, broth, and some lean beef?

If you’re launching yourself into an Atkins-style diet you can even skip adding the beloved potatoes and replace them with another vegetable.

Of course, you could leave the Guinness out, but come on, you don’t want to go overboard.

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2. Oysters and Fish

Oysters. (iStock)

Oysters. (iStock)

Great for the brain and your diet - get some fish oils into you this January with some oysters or fish recipes.

Although Chef Gilligan’s chilled Kumamoto oysters with sturgeon caviar and vodka recipe might be a little too fancy for a typical weeknight meal, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of grilled salmon or cod and a side of veg.

3. Soda bread

Irish soda bread. (Getty Images)

Irish soda bread. (Getty Images)

I know, I know, starch and carbs are the weight watchers enemies but if you’re going to break your diet by eating bread, this is the one you want. The simple ingredients in this bread and its great taste make it both healthy and delicious.

Also, nothing goes better with soda bread than smoked salmon.

4. Soup

(Ireland's Content Pool)

(Ireland's Content Pool)

Vegetable soup has long been a staple of the Irish diet. There’s nothing better than coming home to a bowl of hearty soup after walking out in the blustery Irish weather.

Not only are these vegetable soups low fat but they’re also nourishing and delicious.

5. Bacon and Cabbage

Bacon and cabbage.

Bacon and cabbage.

This is the ideal Atkins and South Beach diet – low in carbs and GI and it also happens to be Ireland’s official favorite dinner.

Although bacon is the meat of choice in Ireland, the Irish who came to the United States quickly replaced it with the more regularly available corned beef.

6. Potatoes

Mashed potatoes. (Getty Images)

Mashed potatoes. (Getty Images)

Although modern, quick weight-loss, diets tend towards skipping out on carbs, potatoes are far from unhealthy, especially if you prepare them in a healthy manner. In fact, in 2016 the Head of the Washington State Potato Commission went on a purely potato diet and lost 21 pounds.

There are many ways to enjoy the humble spud, and unless they’re deep-fried or slathered in cream what’s the harm.

* Originally published in 2013, last updated in December 2020.

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