Lighten up your traditional boiled Irish dinner or don’t


You don’t need the “luck of the Irish” to lose weight on St. Patty’s Day. The traditional corn beef and cabbage meal is a good choice for a weight loss meal.

What’s Saint Patrick’s Day without the traditional boiled corn beef and cabbage dinner? This Irish girl will never find out. Since I’ve been eating solid foods, nary a St. Paddy’s day has passed me by without me filling up on corn beef, potatoes, cabbage and carrots.

As far as lightening up a traditional Irish boiled dinner, it’s not a major undertaking and it barely makes a difference in overall flavor and enjoyment.

Start by finding the leanest cut of corn beef you can find. Cooking it in liquid in a pot for many hours renders the meat tender. Unlike fat marbling to make your steak tender, the marbling doesn’t matter for meat you simmer in a slow cooker. Cut off any visible fat. If you don’t pull back the package to reveal the side of the meat hidden you may have a lot more fat than you expected.

Buying lean corn beef in a package is tricky. They pack the fatty side towards the opaque part of the package and the lean side facing the translucent side.

Cook your vegetables in another pot, separately from the meat to keep them from absorbing any fat in the water as the corn beef cooks. Instead of using tons of butter on your vegetables, try a hearty mustard instead.

I cook cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and parsnips, if I have them. I like to cook them so they’re tender but still somewhat firm. I hate mushy vegetables.

Your meal is about 400 calories, give or take, depending on how much butter you use or if you use none at all. That is a hearty meal for a very modest amount of calories.

Lean corned beef and lots of vegetables is a satisfying meal for weight loss.

The calorie count will go up sharply in you add Irish soda bread and green beer to the meal. A 1 oz serving is roughly 82 calories, but it’s usually cut into slices weighing 2 or more ounces. Smearing 1 tablespoon of butter on your bread adds roughly another 100 calories. Each mug of green beer is about 154 calories.

If you carried away with the “extras” pull out your dancing shoes and balance the meal with some Irish step dancing.

Here is my stand on a traditional Irish dinner on St. Patrick’s Day: Go for it and keep your goals in mind. That is to say, “eat what you need to be satisfied.”



Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.