The Fit Foodie: Good, bad and ugly of 2017

This week I’m sharing my take on the good, the bad and the ugly of 2017.

Recipe wise, it’s my vegetarian tagine and healthy chicken goujons, both guaranteed to brighten up your dinner time this January.

This year has been a bit of a whirlwind for me. Trying to balance running my own business, raising my toddler Dafne, keeping up my training and maintaining a social life has been tough but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’ve learned a lot and am truly grateful for it all. As we come to the end of 2017, I thought it would be a good time to reflect and share my highs and lows from what has been an amazing, yet sometimes challenging, year.

The good

This year has been a great one for women in sport. I’ve heard more and more people talking about women’s sports and this makes me happy because as a mother to a little girl it gives me hope that there will be more opportunities for her when she gets older.

This is an area I am passionate about because at the end of the day it’s not always about the winners, it’s about getting more girls involved and keeping them in sport. There were some inspirational moments in women’s sports in 2017 for this.

Take for example the Women’s Rugby World Cup, although Ireland didn’t get the result they had hoped for, the girls did us all proud and being host nation was fantastic for visibility on the world stage.

Moments like Joy Neville winning world referee of the year and Katie Taylor becoming world champ in her professional career were amazing. It’s great to see companies supporting too. Personally, I really enjoyed Lidl’s campaign and think they did a super job.

Becoming a member of the Olympic Council of Ireland’s new Athletes Commission was a big step for me. It started in 2017 and there are some amazing voices in Irish sport, with a tonne of Olympic experience behind them, sitting on the panel with me.

It makes me excited as it finally feels like the athletes are starting to be put at the centre of Olympic sport in Ireland which can only be a good thing for their wellbeing and ultimately, their results.

Moments like Joy Neville winning world referee of the year and Katie Taylor becoming world champ in her professional career were amazing.

The bad

This column is heavily focused on food and fitness. In the area of health in Ireland, I think we need to do a much better job for women’s health.

One example of this is the lack of nationwide anomaly scans for all pregnant women and the fact that they are still not due to be rolled out until 2019.

As a mother and woman, this is a big issue for me. In Ireland, we are fortunate enough to have some of the best talent in the world in our healthcare system in terms of healthcare professionals, but we need it to be resourced far better.

Women’s health should be priority for everyone going forward.

The ugly

Don’t get me wrong, I love Instagram. I think it’s a great platform for sharing ideas and connecting with others.

I also can’t lie and pretend that I don’t love a nice picture of myself, and sometimes, an Instagram filter that makes me look a little more flattering.

What I do struggle to get on board with though is images which I don’t think depict reality.

I’ve seen more boob, bum and men’s topless selfies in 2017 than I care to remember. The reality is, however, that this is not necessarily representative of a fit or healthy body and certainly not of a fit and healthy mind.

For all of us who are consuming food, fitness and health content let’s try and make an effort to consume more of the stuff that makes us stop and think about our wellbeing as opposed to worrying about how we look in a selfie.

Fitspiration:

@serenawilliams 

I adore Serena Williams. I think she’s a fierce competitor and her social media is really enjoyable to follow. You get great insights into her training, lifestyle and life as a new mum.

Vegetarian Tagine with Minty Couscous

I like to challenge myself to have the occasional Meatless Monday. This recipe is lovely for dinner and it tastes super the next day as well. There’s a great mix of vegetables too, so it’s packed full of vitamins and minerals. If you really can’t resist having some meat, serve this with some leftover roast chicken.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

For the tagine:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, fiinely
  • chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger, finely
  • chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 aubergine, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and diced
  • ½ butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and diced
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 100g dried apricots, halved
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 300ml water
  • 3 tbsp harissa
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • Salt and pepper

For the couscous:

  • 400g couscous
  • a handful of mint leaves, chopped
  • a handful of ?aked almonds
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Method:

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 10 minutes,
until softened. Add the ginger, garlic, cinnamon and cumin and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the remainder of the ingredients for the tagine and stir well. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the couscous according to the instructions on the package. Stir the mint, almonds and olive oil into the cooked couscous.

Spoon the couscous into warmed serving bowls, making a well in the centre. Ladle the vegetable tagine on top of the couscous and serve.

Vegetarian Tagine with Minty Couscous.

Healthy Chicken Goujons 

These oaty chicken strips are my take on healthy chicken goujons. They make a gorgeous lunch if you have them with a big salad on the side but they could also be part of a very tasty dinner served with some sweet potato wedges and greens. And since they are marinated, they are tender and full of favour.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • a pinch of salt
  • 4 skinless chicken breast fillets, cut into strips
  • 60g porridge oats

Method:

Mix the soy sauce, olive oil, dried herbs and salt in a large bowl.

Add the chicken and use your hands to massage the marinade into the meat.

Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4.

Spread the oats on a plate.

Roll each chicken strip in the oats.

Place the coated chicken strips in an ovenproof dish.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until each chicken goujon is cooked through with a crispy coating.

Healthy Chicken Goujons.


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