St. Patrick’s Day Eats: How to Sneak Green into Everything

Having been born of a “Sweeney” family tree, with roots many centuries deep in Irish history, St. Patrick’s Day is nothing less than a hallowed holiday in our household. I like to spend all the 24 hours regaling my freckle-faced family on the significance of my oh-so Irish name, while my kids build tiny contraptions to trap leprechauns. And every year we seek out a shamrock-shaded perch for the big parade downtown.

My very favorite part of St. Paddy’s Day, however, is the fact that everybody is Irish for a moment in time. Kisses abound and everything is green. Everything – including breakfast, lunch and dinner – is green. And I don’t have to argue about it with my kids because “green” is the order of the day. So, I lean right into it, baby. With a holster of food coloring at my hip, I dig in.

For you, my limerick-loving friend, here are my best tips for taking a deep dive into St. Patrick’s Day green from dawn to dusk:

Bright Green Breakfast

I like to kick-start the celebration with just enough green to get everybody’s attention. A bowl of cold, colored milk and sweet, crunchy Lucky Charms is, well, magically delicious. So is a simple parfait of green-spiked Greek yogurt, sliced kiwi, and golden raisins. A stack of green pancakes with a (Lucky) charm-ing crown is super fun too.

If St. Patrick’s Day happens to fall on a Saturday or Sunday, I’ll take the time to craft some serious clover-hunting fuel. There’s nothing better than an easy Eggs Benedict (except for a green and easy Eggs Benedict. Hit the Hollandaise with a dash of food coloring, layer some baby spinach onto the toast, finish each serving with a pinch of leafy microgreens, or… do all of the above for good measure! Bring a whole new holiday meaning to “green eggs and ham.”

Lucky Green Lunch

Whether I’m packing bags for the school day or plating a mid-day meal, a lucky lunch is particularly easy to pull together. I take on every bite with a cookie cutter in hand. I imagine St. Patrick himself smiling down from the big rainbow in the sky as I cut every PB+J, slice of salami and cheese, and hunk of fruit or veggies into an oversized clover, horseshoe, heart or star.

I keep sparkly gold-colored permanent markers in my holster for writing well-wishes and love notes. And I like to sneak golden coins of chocolate into lunches, too, for my kiddos to find at the bottom of their bags like a pot of gold at the end of the – you guessed it – rainbow.

Kelly Green Snack

After school especially, homemade shamrock shakes save the day. My kids and I take turns blending together vanilla ice cream, milk, a couple drops of mint extract and a couple more of green food coloring. Then, we garnish to order: chocolate chips, or chopped chocolate mints, or even more Lucky Charms, and every single serving gets a generous swirl of whipped cream. Between sips and slurps we compare notes on our day before the next round of inspired Irish revelry.

If we need to keep moving in the middle of the day, I’ll offer up muffins or biscuits that I’ve baked with food coloring in the batter.

Shamrock Green Dinner

As even all Italians are Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, I like to wrap our day of festive fare with big bowls of saucy green pasta. I let my kids pick the cut – shamrock-shaped if we can find it – dye it green after boiling, and then toss it in a batch of (pretty darn healthy) homemade spinach pesto. I’ll serve it with pork loin that’s been roasted in a liberal slather of the same pesto, and a side dish of “clover” salad dressed simply in lemon vinaigrette.

Bonus points for punctuating a superfun day with a spread of the most nutrient-rich greens growing out of the ground. Not only will this supper bring everyone to the table in good humor, it will nourish them in ways not even luck will do.

As far as I’m concerned, the luckiest part of my life is that I get to be a mom. And the fact that I get to share my Sweeney-ness with my family on the most Irish day of the year is like golden sparkles on top the rainbow of my lucky life. A little extra green with my very favorite little people is the very best way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

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