Festive sides and leftover turkey dishes with The Fit Foodie

This week The Fit Foodie, Derval O’Rourke, teaches us how to make some very festive side dishes and what to do with the leftover Christmas turkey.

I love Christmas Eve. There is something very magical about this day. The buzz is amazing.

At this stage I like to have all my gift shopping done and be able to take in the Christmassy cheer.

When I was an athlete I always trained on Christmas Eve. I did this to allow me take Christmas day off.

During the Christmas period it was harder to find tracks that were open as most facilities would close for a few days. This meant myself and my training partner, Ailis McSweeney, often found ourselves climbing fences to get our training done. At the time it seemed perfectly reasonable but looking back I can see that anyone who saw us might have thought it was a little odd!

Today I won’t be climbing any fences, I swear! I’ll be enjoying the festive cheer and waiting patiently for Santa to arrive in our house.

A Christmassy cabbage

This is lovely to eat around Christmas time as a side to a roast turkey feast. It will also be gorgeous with roast chicken. Red cabbage is a great ingredient and with a little effort it can be made into a special side. This is my go-to cabbage side.

Festive sides and leftover turkey dishes with The Fit Foodie

Serves: 4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes


  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 small head of red cabbage, finely sliced
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 60ml balsamic vinegar
  • 50g walnuts, chopped
  • 1 pomegranate, seeds only (optional)


Heat the oil in a large heavy based saucepan over a medium heat and add the onion. Stir in the fennel seeds and a pinch of salt and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the cabbage, apples and vinegar and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring well. Reduce the heat and cover. Cook on a low heat for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Sprinkle with the walnuts and pomegranate seeds to serve.

Carlicky pitta chips

These pitta chips are a simple way to have a quick and easy garlic bread at home.

These go great with dips or dinners as a nice side. If garlic isn’t really your thing you can substitute it for chilli flakes.

Serves: 2

Prep time: 1 minute

Cook time: 10 minutes


  • 2 wholemeal pittas
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed


Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Use a knife to cut the pittas in half and cut them into triangles about the size of a tortilla chip.

Place the triangles on the tin. Drizzle with olive oil, season and spread the garlic on them.

Bake for ten minutes and serve.

A simple curry for leftover turkey

This is a fab curry sauce. It’s wonderful to have in your freezer so it’s well worth making a big batch. This is my favourite way to use left over Christmas turkey. I would advise doubling this recipe and leaving half to cook and pooping in your freezer for a cold January night.

Festive sides and leftover turkey dishes with The Fit Foodie

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes


  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • thumb sized piece of ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp medium curry powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 10 dried apricots, halved
  • 3 apples, cored peeled and chopped
  • 3 peppers, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 600 ml chicken stock
  • salt and pepper
  • Cooked turkey (Christmas leftovers)
  • Brown or basmati rice to serve


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for about 10 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic, ginger and spices and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the apricots, apples, peppers, tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer for around 20 minutes.

Use a hand blender to puree the curry sauce to the desired consistency, I like smooth curry sauces but my husband likes some veggie chunks.

Cook the rice as per packet suggestions.

Stir in the cooked turkey and serve over rice.

Fitness focus

As it is Christmas Eve I thought better than to try to convince anyone to try out a new fitness regime! Instead I wanted to give a shout out to a few “Fit Foodie” favourites in the world of books that I feel are well worth taking the time to sit down with over the festive period.

Robert Heffernan, Walking Tall

I’ll be honest I don’t read a huge amount of sports biographies because I find most of them a little boring. A second honest comment is that Rob Heffernan is a team mate and good friend of mine. Rob does not hold back in his book, he tells it like he sees it and to read the struggles of someone pursuing the dream of winning medals is fascinating. Without a doubt Rob would not be in possession of his impressive medal haul without his relentless, self-driven pursuit of excellence. I recognise a lot of the struggle and frustration from my own experiences in athletics. This is well worth a read.

Anna Kassel, Eat Sweat Play

This book is on my Santa list. I cannot wait to devour it. As a former professional sports woman I feel very strongly about the visibility of women in sport and the opportunities that exist in sport for women. Kessel’s book has been described as a manifesto for sporting equality.

Zanna Van Dijk, Strong

I’m a little sceptical when it comes to people that are internet sensations in the food and fitness world. I often worry that their approach isn’t realistic and at times a little unhealthy. Zanna Van Dijk is one third of a trio called “Girl Gains”. I met the girl gains ladies at WellFest this year and I was really impressed by their attitude. They are a great example of the good side of online food and fitness. Zanna’s first book Strong is released at the end of December and promises to have lots of great recipes and realistic fitness advice.

Indy Power, Little Green Spoon

Indy Power’s first book is a beauty. I’ve really enjoyed looking through it for inspiration in the past few months. She has a great eye for food photography and her recipes are great.

Derval O’Rourle, The Fit Foodie

I couldn’t resist throwing in a plug for my own book here! Shameless plug aside, 2016 was a big year for me. I brought out my second cookbook and I’ve really enjoyed the great response too it. My book is full of simple, tasty recipes with a great addition of the expertise of Olympic team dietitian Sharon Madigan.


A really interesting and cool guy to follow in the world of social media is Pat Divilly. Pat is a fitness expert and his social media is full of inspiring quotes and advice.


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