The Fit Foodie: Derval's top Irish walks - and her ideal summer picnic options

There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing — and when it comes to Ireland it couldn’t be truer, says Derval O’Rourke.

Whether the sun is splitting the stones or the drizzle is coming down a bank holiday weekend is the perfect time to get out and about. 

This week I’m talking about my favourite long walks to enjoy plus some of my favourite places to refuel along the way. 

I think a lot of us tend to underestimate how beautiful Ireland is, especially when the sun is shining so why not use this weekend as a chance to revisit an old favourite or explore somewhere new. Get your walking shoes on, you won’t regret it.

This week’s recipes are super easy to prepare and pack a punch in both the taste and nutrition department. 

The Moroccan chicken skewers just scream summer time with their bright, zingy and spicy flavours. While the beetroot mush offers a great opportunity to mix up your mash and try something a little bit different.

Heading for a long walk is a nice way to exercise and to explore somewhere new. It’s a cheap and cheerful way to spend a day together with family or friends. 

It’s a great opportunity for a study break and a chance to blow away any remaining cobwebs and calm any last minute nerves before the exams next week.

Irish trails.ie is a great resource when it comes to planning days like this so go check them out. They have lots of hints and tips for enjoyable walking plus lots of ideas for places to go.

When it comes to Cork my top two picks would have to be:

1. Garrettstown beach

I love the sea air and find it’s great for clearing your head after a busy week. 

This walk is one I would consider suitable for everyone and there are stunning views along the way. If you are feeling particularly brave or energized then book in for a lesson at GTown surf school.

Refuel after at Diva boutique bakery and café, a funky little café in Ballinspittle. 

We love Diva café because not only do they make delicious cakes and serve amazing coffee; they also try to use as much local and organic produce as possible. 

For example they use local free range eggs from Beech wood Farms and meat from Donal Lordan’s Butcher. Everything is made fresh too which I love.

Check them out on Facebook.

2. Ballycotton cliff walk

This is such a beautiful walk and while perhaps a little more challenging than Garrestown it’s well worth the extra effort. 

It’s not a looped walk though so be careful how far you venture as it can be a long walk back.

The walk features some stunning scenery with the ocean on one side and meadows on the other. 

I love to stop in to the Kilkenny Café at the Shanagarry design centre or Ballymaloe House cafe for some well deserved coffee and cake afterwards.

For something a little further afield I would recommend:

1. The Wicklow Mountains National Park, particularly Lough Tray

This lake nestled in the heart of the Wicklow mountains is also known as Guinness lake. 

Along with Glendalough, the Guinness Lake is one of the most photographed spots in Wicklow.

Get your comfy shoes on and get out and about exploring the Wicklow Mountains, you won’t regret it. I did this walk on New Year’s Day and it was fab.

2. Phoenix Park

There is so much to see and do once you arrive, from Áras an Uachtaráin to Dublin Zoo. 

At the start of my running career I used too run hills in Phoenix Park every Sunday morning. 

It’s a wonderful place to get a few miles in or have a walk.There are lots of places for tea and coffee too including the Phoenix Park Tea Rooms and the Phoenix Café.

Pop up to Phoenix Park this weekend and you can visit Bloom, Irelands largest gardening, horticulture food and family festival, which celebrates its 11th anniversary this year.

Fitspiration

If you are looking for some walking inspiration this weekend check out www.irishtrails.ie

It is packed full of information and advice.

Moroccan spiced chicken skewers with a mint, yoghurt and feta dip

The Fit Foodie: Derval's top Irish walks - and her ideal summer picnic options

This is great way to spice up boring chicken, I’m always looking for new ways to keep it interesting and this is definitely my current favourite. 

This dish is full of bright, zingy and spicy flavours, perfect for enjoying as part of a barbeque on a summers day. 

It’s so simple but packed full of flavour and the accompanying dip is a great addition. 

The mix of sweet peas, salty feta and refreshing mint is gorgeous. My advice, make double!

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 15-20 minutes

Serves: 4

  • 16-20 wooden skewers
  • 4 medium free range or organic chicken breasts
  • Olive oil
  • 3 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried coriander
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 2 tsp dried garlic powder
  • 200g natural yoghurt
  • 100g feta cheese / Greek style salad cheese
  • Handful fresh mint

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Slice the chicken length ways into 4/5 thin strips per breast. Coat in a little olive oil. 

Mix dry spices and seasoning together. 

Lightly coat the oiled chicken in the spice mix making sure to get a nice even covering. 

Place on a lightly oiled tray and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes or until cooked through.

Put the yoghurt, feta and mint in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Serve the skewers dipped in the dressing.

Beetroot and walnut mush

The Fit Foodie: Derval's top Irish walks - and her ideal summer picnic options

This is a great alternative to hummus and is delicious served with the chicken skewers opposite or with some crudités , flatbreads or crackers. 

The colour is vibrant and screams goodness, while the combination of the mint, sweet beets and earthy walnuts means the dip scores serious points on the taste scale

Tahini might be a new discovery for you but it’s a great find. It’s a sesame seed paste used in Middle Eastern dishes like hummus but can also make for a delicious snack when combined with some banana, cinnamon, seeds and a drizzle of honey. 

Perfect alone or on toast and great for those with nut allergies or looking to boost their calcium intake.

Beetroot is wonderful for heart health thanks to its nitrate content and they are also a source of iron and other antioxidants. 

Walnuts are rich in omega-3 and other healthy fats. All in all this mush is a winner!

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

  • 200g walnuts
  • 400g beetroot, cooked
  • 2 tbs light tahini paste
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbs rapeseed oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 handful fresh chopped mint

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Place walnuts on a tray and roast in the oven for about 10minutes.

Mix all of the remaining ingredients together and blend until smooth. 

Store in an airtight container.


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