Derval O'Rourke: Five food tips for ending your year on a high

— and a delicious turkey tagine that's totally different to your traditional Christmas dinner
Derval O'Rourke: Five food tips for ending your year on a high

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas Day & have plenty of leftovers to enjoy today! This week I’m sharing five food tips which I hope will help you end your year/start the new year on a high! I’m also sharing a recipe for (Leftover) Turkey Tagine which is delicious — if you have any leftovers!

Invest in a kitchen gadget that will make your life easier this year:

It’s hard enough as it is to make healthy food choices which don’t require an investment of time. For me, the gadgets I have in my kitchen help me to make better choices even when I’m super busy!

Soup is one thing that can be really healthy and doesn’t have to be a huge chore to make. Why not invest in a handheld soup blender? This will make your life a lot easier and will mean you can whip up big batches of soup which will make for quick & healthy lunches for a number of days.

Aim to be more aware of your salt intake:

Lots of people have the habit of putting salt on their meals before even tasting it. Even without adding salt to your meals, you could still be consuming too much. Aim for no more than 6g (approx 1 tbsp) of salt per day. Take a moment to think before you sprinkle that salt on.

Don’t allow yourself to get thirsty:

Water has so many benefits. If you feel thirsty then you are already dehydrated. Aim to never let yourself get dehydrated. I keep a glass of water topped up all of the time in my kitchen, so I can sip on it while I’m cooking or with the kids. I also keep a full bottle of water on my desk in my office because I find it’s easy to forget to drink water when you’re stuck in work, but if the bottle is there I will always reach for it.

Drinking water also helps me to feel full which makes me snack less — which is also a plus! If you find it hard to drink water, invest in a nice BPA-free water bottle or try adding fruit to your water.

Aim to have a glass of water first thing in the morning (yes, even before coffee!) as this helps to kick start your metabolism.

Don’t skip breakfast:

Unfortunately, lots of people believe that skipping breakfast will help with weight loss which is not the case. You don’t have to have a huge breakfast: fruit with nuts and some yoghurt will do the trick. It’s tempting to reach for the Heroes or Celebrations in the mornings over Christmas, but try to resist until at least noon! Get that brekkie in first.

Don’t become obsessed with counting calories:

At this time of year we can tend to be a bit extreme. We can go from indulging to restriction within a few days. Be careful of this approach. Eat whole foods that nourish and satisfy you. Aim for variety and colour. This ensures we are getting the micronutrients our bodies need and is also good for our gut bacteria.

Choose a variety of foods from each of the food groups. Aim for a mix of fruits and vegetables, a mixture of whole grains and legumes, some nuts and seeds, plus protein from good quality sources such as fish, lean meats or dairy.

Wellness Tip: If you really have no clue about what calories are in your foods consider doing a food diary or track your food on an app for a limited period of time, a few days. This will give you a good grasp on what you are consuming. But also be mindful of how you are feeling consider tracking mood and food.

Fitness Tip: Try to get out for one walk a day over the Christmas period. This will help you physically and mentally. Meet friends and walk and chat. This year has shown us all how much we need that connection with people.

Recipe: Turkey Tagine

This is the perfect recipe to use up any Christmas Leftovers. It’s a nice way to eat something totally different to your traditional Christmas dinner.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 55 minutes

Serves: 4-6


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, thickly sliced
  • 3 carrots, thickly sliced on the diagonal
  • 3 parsnips, thickly sliced on the diagonal
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 500ml turkey or chicken stock
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • Handful of sultanas
  • 300g leftover turkey, cut into chunks
  • 2 tbsp of honey
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds
  • Handful of coriander, roughly chopped
  • Handful of flaked almonds

To serve:

  • Couscous
  • Greek yogurt


  • Mix the spices, ground almonds, honey, sultanas and tomatoes in a large bowl and set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a casserole pot and cook the onions, garlic and ginger for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the carrots and parsnips, and cook for 8 minutes until starting to soften and colour a little.
  • Stir in the spices, ground almonds, honey, sultanas and tomatoes. Season, bring to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add the turkey and simmer for 5 minutes to warm through.
  • Ladle the cooked tagine into warmed serving bowls. Sprinkle over the coriander and almonds. Serve with couscous and Greek yoghurt

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