Ok, I admit that for the longest time, the only things that would come to mind when I thought about St. Patrick’s Day were day drinking, cabbage and corned beef, wearing green, four leaf clovers and leprechauns. It wasn’t until I married a guy with Irish blood and had kids with him that I took the time to do a little more research in an effort to explain the history of this holiday to said children. I stumbled on some pretty interesting facts! For example…
- Saint Patrick was not Irish! He was born in Roman Britain, not Ireland and was kidnapped at the age of 16 and sent as a slave to what is now referred to as Northern Ireland.
- The shamrock (three leaf clover) was considered a sacred plant that symbolized the arrival of spring. According to legend, St. Patrick explained the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) using the three leaf clover as a visual.
- Corned beef and cabbage was invented by Americans. Ham and cabbage, a popular dish in Ireland, was modified into corned beef and cabbage with corned beef offering a cheap substitute for impoverished immigrants.
- Association of Ireland with the color green most likely began during the Great Irish Rebellion when Ireland used the color in its flag as a sign of rebellion against the British monarchy.
- Your odds of finding a four-leaf clover are about 1 in 10,000.
One of our top favorite ways to celebrate any holiday, big or small, is through cuisine. It’s one of the easiest ways to make memories, traditions, nostalgia, and bottom line is…food is the way to my family’s heart.
Green Fruit and Veggie Tray
This isn’t a recipe, but it’s a super simple way to St. Patty’s Day flair to your menu for the day! For snack time, go with a green theme. We like to do a combination of 3 or more of the following: cucumber slices, green apple slices, green bell pepper slices, celery sticks, edamame, shelled pistachios, guacamole dip (goes great with the cucumber, green pepper and celery), green grapes and kiwifruit slices.
Rainbow Fruit Kabobs
Green is great and all, but you can’t have St. Patrick’s Day without rainbows! You can easily include your kiddos join in and make this healthy snack with you! They can learn about the colors and color order in a rainbow as they skewer each piece of fruit, plus any meal that their hands helped to create are almost always tastier to eat! If you want to go a step further and get a little fancy, you can use the chocolate fondue dip I shared in this previous post as a fruit kabob dip.
- Strawberries or raspberries
- Mandarin oranges
- Pineapple chunks
- Green grapes or honeydew
- Purple grapes
- Wooden skewers
Dye-Free Green Eggs
I’ll never forget making green eggs and ham during Dr. Seuss Week as an elementary student. This was a super fun, highly anticipated annual tradition at the small elementary school I attended, when 99% of the picky eaters suddenly had no problem downing a plateful of green eggs and ham slices just like the main character in the book. Green eggs (with or without ham) is another novel and fun way to celebrate St. Patrick’s day in the kitchen! You may be surprised how your kiddos who normally don’t want to touch green food with a ten foot pole, suddenly become excited to eat shamrock eggs! I use the below measurements to serve myself and my 3 kids ages 2-9.
- 6 eggs
- 5 C spinach lightly packed
- 1/2 C almond milk (optional)
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- Oil for frying (I use avocado oil)
- Add the eggs and spinach to a blender
- Blend on high until the spinach is fully blended. You will need to stop and scrape down the sides a couple times to blend in any larger pieces of spinach that get stuck on the sides.
- Pre-heat a large frying pan and then add 1-2 Tbsp of your oil.
- Pour in the egg mixture and scramble as it cooks or flip like an omelette.
- Remove from heat and serve immediately
Dye-Free Green Pancakes
If you’re not an egg person (like my middle child), give these green pancakes a try! You can make them from scratch of course, but I usually like to use a shortcut by using this pancake mix. It has super simple ingredients and makes this simple recipe even easier. You can never have to many healthy shortcuts as a mom…#amiright ?!
- Simple Mills pancake mix
- 2 C of spinach for every egg (as indicated on mix instructions)
- Follow directions on the back of the mix box for measurements
- In a blender, add the eggs, water or milk and spinach and blend until spinach is combined
- Pour the spinach mixture into a large bowl and add the oil and bag of pancake mix
- Stir to combine all ingredients
- Pour mixture into a preheated, greased frying pan in 1/4 cup portion sizes
- Serve immediately with optional toppings like fresh fruit or whipped cream
Shamrock Shake Recipe
If you’re here to find a recipe for brewing a healthy Guinness, you might be slightly disappointed. However, if you’re a fan of the Shamrock Shake, you have to try this recipe for a healthier version! It’s sweet, creamy, my 3 little taste tester gave it double thumbs up and my husband who is a Shamrock Shake lover (for both the taste and nostalgia) also gave it his approval!
- 1 C of milk of choice (canned full-fat coconut milk will give it a richer milkshake consistency)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder (This is my favorite protein powder. No added sugar and the cleanest sourcing I’ve seen).
- 1/8 – ¼ tsp pure peppermint extract or 2 drops peppermint essential oil
- 3 pitted Medjool dates
- Cacao nibs as desired
- Handful of frozen or fresh spinach
- 1 frozen ripe banana
- ½ avocado
- Dairy free whipped cream (optional)
- Add all ingredients (except whipped cream) into a blender and blend until completely smooth. The cacao nibs can be added to the blender or used as a topping. Top with whipped cream just before serving.
Cabbage and Corned Beef
I think I remember my mother making this dish on a rare occasion growing up, but it was always that had a funny name and sparked little to no excitement when it was served. Along with many other culinary preferences, my appreciation for this dish changed after trying it several times as an adult! Since it’s not something that we include in our typical dinner rotation, it’s something unique and fun to serve around St. Patrick’s Day! Here’s a super delish recipe to bring a little Irish cuisine into your family’s St. Patty’s day celebration! It’s a little more high maintenance than the typical corned beef sold in stores because the brine is made from scratch. So you will need to do a little extra prep 3-5 days in advance in order to brine the brisket, but trust me…it’s well worth it! See cabbage lust in my children’s eyes below.
- 3-5 lb beef brisket
- 2 qt water
- 1 C sea salt
- 1/2 C raw cane sugar
- ¼ tsp Ceylon cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp mustard seeds
- 1 Tbsp pepper
- 8 cloves (whole)
- ½ tsp ginger
- ½ tsp thyme
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
- Heat all ingredients on the stove until the salt and sugar dissolve.
- Let brine cool and then place in refrigerator until it is fully chilled.
- Place brisket in a large container with a lid and add the brine, making sure the brisket is completely submerged in the brine.
- Place in the fridge and let sit for 3-5 days, rotating the brisket each day to ensure even distribution of the brine.
- On the final day, remove the brisket and rinse with cool water then continue on to the directions below for cooking.
Ingredients for Cooking Corned Beef:
- 1 onion
- 5 cloves of garlic
- Enough water to cover brisket
- ½-1 full head of cabbage
- 4-5 carrots
- 1 lb baby potatoes (or sub for mashed cauliflower potatoes-see additional recipe below)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Slow Cooker Directions:
- Add all ingredients into crock pot and add just enough water to cover the brisket.
- Cook on low for 8 hours.
- Serve corned beef on top of vegetables
Ingredients for Mashed Cauliflower Potatoes:
- 1 head of fresh cauliflower diced evenly
- 4 Tbsp dairy free butter
- 2 Tbsp dairy free sour cream
- 3 Tbsp of grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh parsley or chives (optional)
- Bring 2-3 quarts of water to a boil
- Cook cauliflower until tender
- Transfer cauliflower to a large bowl and blend in butter, sour cream and parmesan cheese with a hand mixer
- Top with parsley or chives for garnish
Saint Patrick’s Day Family Activities
If you’re looking for more than food related fun, here are a few fun activities to round out your day of celebrating with your wee lasses and lads.
- Shamrock Scavenger Hunt: Similar to the Valentine’s Day Scavenger Hunt from my previous post, have the whole family go on a 3 and 4 leaf clover scavenger hunt! Just cut out some 3 and 4 leaf clovers from construction paper (you can use all green or use a different color for each family member to cut down on the fighting over who found more) and hide them throughout the house or outside if weather permits. There are a few different directions you can go with this activity.
- You can cut out just one four leaf clover for each person and have a special prize written on the back of that clover (a book, sweet treat, Target dollar bin trinket) that they are awarded when they find the special clover.
- You can think of different ways God has blessed your family over the years and write them on the four leaf clovers you find then hang them on your fridge for the next few weeks (great way to talk about good things in life as blessings rather than luck).
- Do a combination of the above two! Talk about a record your family’s blessings and include a game prize for each player.
- Saint Patrick’s Day Parade: If you are local to Bucks County, there is a parade that takes place on the Saturday before St. Patrick’s day (March 12, 2022 this year) in Levittown, PA. The parade begins at Conwell-Egan Catholic High School and ends at the Levittown American baseball fields on New Falls Road. To find a list of other fun St. Patrick’s Day events for kids in a town near you, check out the macaronikid site. You can search by state and town closest to you.
- Search for a Celtic music playlist to jam (or mellow out) to while eating your green eggs, corned beef or hunting for paper clovers.
- Take some time to learn more about Ireland or Irish folktales through reading!
- Learn some Gaelic words! This YouTube channel is a fun way to learn some basic words and phrases.
And there you have it! A few new ways to a wee bit more fun into your family’s St Patrick’s Day celebration! To long lasting memories and laughter! Erin go Bragh! 😉