Discuss Diabetes
« Prev ArticleNext Article »

A Tradition with Nutrition on St. Patrick’s Day

A diabetes-friendlier St. Patrick's Day

Laura KolodjeskiLaura Kolodjeski

Are those Irish eyes a smiling? Whether or not you’re Irish isn’t all that important today, because we all get into the Irish spirit to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! There are so many ways to celebrate, from casually wearing green to participating in parades or celebrations.

In case you’re not aware of who this St. Patrick fellow is, he was actually born in Britain, kidnapped as a teen and sent over to Ireland as a slave. After seven years, he escaped, but said he heard a voice during his exit that instructed him to return to Ireland. Inspired by the voice, St. Patrick became a priest and bishop.

Many years after his death in the 5th century, Patrick was named the patron saint of Ireland. To commemorate his life and honor the day he passed, St. Patrick’s Day is now celebrated each year on March 17th. The first American celebration occurred in 1762 in New York City and the St. Patrick’s Day parade in NYC is still considered to be the largest in the world, with more than 150,000 attending each year. The city of Chicago takes this day seriously, too, dyeing the Chicago River green, a truly unique sight.

St. Patrick’s Day definitely comes with lots of tradition, like parades and green apparel. It’s often celebrated with a variety of foods and beverages, as well, which is why I wanted to share a traditional corned beef and cabbage recipe! As a rule, corned beef and cabbage is generally lower in carbohydrates and calories, but it can be pretty high in sodium, due to the pastrami or corned beef. Therefore, it’s important to consult your physician or dietitian if you have additional nutrition questions about the meal.

Corned Beef & Cabbage


1 – 3 1/2 to 4 pound flat-cut corned beef brisket
1 large or 2 small cinnamon sticks, crumbled
12 allspice, whole
1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1 1/2 teaspoon coriander, whole
2 large bay leaves, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon cloves, whole
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon mace (can substitute nutmeg if mace can’t be found)
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 – 6×6-inch square of cheesecloth and kitchen string
1 head garlic, sliced in half across the equator
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 medium head cabbage, cleaned and sliced into 8 wedges (leave the core intact)


1. Place all of the spices (allspice, mustard seeds, yellow mustard seeds, coriander, bay leaves, cloves, red pepper flakes, pepper corns, mace and ginger) on the cheesecloth and bring side up to form a package. Tie tight with string and set aside.
2. Rinse the corned beef brisket well under cool running water.
3. Place the corned beef in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the spice package, garlic and white vinegar. Fill the pot with cold water to cover the corned beef by at least 2-3 inches.
4. Place pot on high heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat, partially cover and simmer for about 3 hours or until the corned beef starts to feel very tender and an inserted fork comes out easily.
5. Add the cabbage wedges into the pot and continue to simmer for about an hour or until the cabbage is done and tender.
6. Let corned beef rest for 15 minutes before slicing it with a serrated edge or electric knife, making slices across the grain.

Nutrition Information:

3 ounces corned beef and 1/8 wedge cabbage per serving, recipe makes 8 servings
Calories 191.4
Total Carbohydrate 10.3 g Total Fat 11.2 g
Sodium 765.2 mg
Sugars 0.2 g
Protein 13.7 g

Talk about a St. Patrick’s Day classic! I do know, however, that there are some that don’t like cabbage or find that it doesn’t necessarily align with their dietary restrictions, so I have also included links to recipes for wilted spinach and broccoli rabe as alternatives to cabbage. A reminder, if you decide to substitute for cabbage, the nutrition information provided above will be different, so be certain to adjust accordingly.

Regardless of whether you use cabbage or one of the alternatives, it’s important to speak with your certified diabetes educator and/or nutrition educator to help design a meal plan that’s right for you.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone and I hope you enjoy the day in a way that is most meaningful to you!


Laura K.

« Prev ArticleNext Article »