Just How Healthy Are Northern Ireland’s Favourite Foods

The healthier your lifestyle, the less likely you’ll be to claim on your health insurance policy. This includes re-evaluating what you eat. We wondered what would happen if you ate Northern Ireland’s favourite foods every day.

1. Ulster fry

The Ulster fry is top of the list when it comes to NI delicacies but could you eat this delicious meal every day? Not if you want to stay healthy! There’s been a lot of debate in recent years over how bad fat actually is for your body. The reality is that when food is fried it becomes more calorific. Sausage and bacon are high in fat at the best of times, but as they absorb the frying oil, the fat content increases!

Make it healthier
It’s never going to be a good idea to have an Ulster Fry as a staple meal, but a few small changes and you can get more nutrients out of your fry. Beans and tomatoes make up two of your five a day, and eggs will give you plenty of protein to fuel the day ahead and stave of hunger for longer. Make your fry healthier by limiting oil and grilling rather than frying.


Photo Credit: Flickr

2. Pastie bap

This unique deep fried burger-shaped mash doesn’t look the most appetising but it is truly a chip shop favourite in Northern Ireland. It is commonly made of minced pork, potato and onion mixed together and covered in batter.
As far as nutritional values go, this table from my fitness pal says it all. High in fat and salt, zero in vitamins and calcium. While you could argue that onion and potato are perfectly healthy, the cooking process of mixing with poor quality mince, covering in batter and deep fat frying, undoes any good there ever was.

Make it healthier
This’ll be a challenge, unless you make it yourself. The best you can do is steer clear of additional condiments and serve with a side salad.

3. Fifteens
How does the rest of the world exist without fifteens? Made up of crushed biscuits, marshmallows, cherries, condensed milk and coconut these tasty treats make the perfect snack during a tea or coffee break.
The condensed milk is what brings the recipe together and makes fifteens so addictive. While high in calcium it is also very high in sugar. Don’t be fooled into thinking cherries make fifteens healthier, glazed cherries are coated in syrup.

Make it healthier
No chance!

4. Champ
The thought of granny’s favourite side dish is one that evokes strong emotions. It either makes you recoil in horror or is your perfect comfort food. Mashed potatoes are a great way to get your carbs and are packed full of potassium which is especially good for you if you have high blood pressure. Mashed with scallions you’ll also benefit from antioxidants, iron and vitamins A, C and K. Champ could be our healthiest NI food so far.

Make it healthier
Cut back on the amount of butter and full fat milk that you add to the mash.

5. Vegetable roll
Another NI-food favourite that takes its influence from a variety of sources. This one is a mix of meat, carrot, onion and leek… but despite the name it includes a lot less veg than you would think. Don’t even try to say this counts towards your five a day, because it certainly doesn’t.

Make it healthier
Traditionally vegetable roll includes left over cuts of fatty meat. Try a leaner cut of meat and grill instead of frying in oil.

6. Yellowman
A type of confectionary that looks similar to honeycomb; There is no point debating the nutritional value of this treat, made of sugar, syrup vinegar and bicarbonate of soda it’s clearly not one we could survive on!

7. Our wide variety of breads
Your carb quota need not be boring in Northern Ireland, you’ve got the choice of malty veda bread, soft potato bread, doughy soda farls or crumbly wheaten bread. Most of our breads key ingredient is buttermilk, high in calcium but also high in saturated fat.

Make it healthier
This often depends on what you but on your bread. Avoid too much fatty butter, cheese or sauce.

8. Crisp sandwich
Northern Ireland loves crisp sandwiches so much there was even a crisp sandwich café opened in Belfast. However, lacking in nutritional value we wouldn’t recommend this for your daily lunch. Cooked in oil, high in salt and fat, according to the dailymail a third of people in the UK eat crisps daily which is the equivalent of drinking around five litres of cooking oil per year! Eating crisps everyday will also make you more inclined to gain weight as the snack can be addictive and leave you feeling hungry.

Make it healthier
Try low fat alternatives to popular crisp brands. There are also flavoured rice cakes which can help keep hunger at bay.

9. Dulse
We’ve got some good news for a change! Dulse is a superfood of sorts. If you can handle the smell it’s well worth eating this salty seaweed snack, and if you can’t, you might want to consider downing some anyway. High in vitamins and minerals, Vitamins B6, B12, A, Iron, Potassium, Phosphorus, and Manganese, dulse can help cleanse your digestive system, speed up your metabolism, and fuel your brain.

How important is your health? For high speed access to consultants, tests and scans, therapies and surgery, get a health insurance quote now.