Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2021! Since the pandemic has muted most of our celebrations, I hope you are able to find somewhere that can feed your need for all things green, gold, and Guinness. However, if you are choosing to keep it low carb instead of swimming in all of the potato options available to you today, look no further than this high protein, high fat meal made with whole foods and simple ingredients. It also feels like a bit of a warm Irish hug, as does most food from the end of the rainbow due to it’s typical damp and rainy climate. I firmly believe that Ireland boasts some of the best food on the planet, including the best dairy, so if you can get your hands on grass-fed butter from Ireland, USE THAT FOR THIS!
But that’s not all folks…my version of Bangers with Onion Gravy & Colcannon also has some pretty potent health benefits in both the Banger patties and the Colcannon, so read on!
Traditional Irish Bangers tend to have fillers in them, like oats, rice flour, and gluten. This helps the sausage to hold together nicely, but isn’t any good for those trying to avoid gluten or watch their carb intake. I replaced these fillers with hemp hearts as a way to absorb some of the moisture in the patties. Hemp hearts are not only a great and complete source of protein, but also contain the perfect balance of Omega-3’s to Omega-6’s that your body needs in terms of essential fatty acids, or EFAs. This means you are getting the benefits that fatty fish like salmon have for your heart and your brain, without eating fish. For my PCOS fam, Omega-3s have been shown to help with insulin sensitivity and ovulation, making hemp hearts a great addition to whatever food lifestyle you choose to adopt.
Colcannon is a mashed potato style Irish dish, but a simple swap of cauliflower for potatoes (I know, predictable but oh so tasty), in combination with the kale (or chard or cabbage if you prefer; I used kale here), turns this dish into a cruciferous veggie stacked, nutrient-dense side you’ll want to throw into your regular food rotation. Plus it’s simple and quick to make. No one loses with this dish – heck even if you love and have no issues eating potatoes, you’ll dig this low carb version just as much.
What are cruciferous vegetables? These are vegetables that belong to the Brassica family, including cabbage, kale, chard, mustard greens, kale, brussel sprouts, bok choy, broccoli and cauliflower. Why are they so amazing? Well first, they are all lower in carbohydrates, so if you are trying to keep carbs low for health reasons, they are a great option to include in your diet. But that’s just the tip of the nutrient iceberg…
Cruciferous vegetables contain indole-3-carbinole (I3C), a compound that has been shown in studies to help the body metabolize and eliminate steroid hormones (think sex hormones), drugs, cancer-causing agents and toxins. I3C may also help to reduce the risk of reproductive cancers, can dysregulate cancer cells, and may even help in the treatment of HPV. This is great news for any woman with PCOS, whose risk of reproductive cancers and androgen or estrogen dominance is higher than those without. Indole-3-Carbinole is made available through the breakdown of cruciferous veggies, so chopping and chewing. It is also made less available through high temperature cooking, which is why, to maximize the I3C, the cauliflower in this recipe is lightly steamed, and the kale is cooked only by the heat of the cauliflower.
Cruciferous vegetables also contain sulforaphane, another cancer-fighting compound discovered in the 90s; it stimulates the release of enzymes that metabolize cancer-causing agents in the body. It also improves A1c levels, a long term marker of blood sugar control, and can lower fasting blood sugar levels by up to 6.5%. This means that those women with insulin-resistant PCOS can benefit from regular intake of this compound. These benefits also mean that those individuals with type 2 diabetes can also benefit from the blood sugar lowering effects of sulforaphane. This compound has also been shown to reduce the impact of stress hormones, which can improve anxiety. It has been shown to protect against sun damage in the skin, and improve liver function. While found in all cruciferous veggies to some degree, it is most concentrated in broccoli sprouts (which is why I am borderline obsessed with them lol).
Think that a meal this healthy will taste like earthy, planty, dirt-packed mud pies? Well think again friends, because this meal is amazing!
Start with the Onion Gravy to ensure you get the most flavour out of it…the entire meal should take an hour to prepare:
1 large onion + 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup of organic (35%) whipping cream
Start by slicing the onion into thin strips, and cooking in a dry (yes dry) pan over low heat. As the onions begin to stick to the pan, keep adding a little bit of water to release the caramelized bits and add moisture to the onions. Keep doing this process until the onions are very dark golden brown, about an hour. Best to do this first, and continue to add a little water at a time, while everything else is cooking. Once you begin to cook the Banger Patties, you can add the heavy cream to the onions, turn up to medium and bring to a boil, stirring often to prevent the cream from burning. When the gravy thickens and becomes golden it is ready to serve over the Bangers.
While the onions are cooking, make the Banger Patties:
1 lb ground pork, beef or lamb
1/4 cup of hemp hearts
1/2 tsp each sea salt & fresh black pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Sprinkle of cinnamon
Combine all ingredients until mixed well, and form into approximately 8 small patties, about 2 tbsp of mixture each. Cover and refrigerate for half an hour. Once you are done making the Colcannon, remove the patties from the fridge, and cook in a cast iron pan over medium heat until golden on each side and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes a side. The hemp hearts will burn, so don’t use a super hot skillet.
Finally, make the Colcannon:
1 head of organic cauliflower, cut into small florets (or 4 cups frozen cauliflower rice)
1/4 cup of heavy cream
1 tsp each sea salt & fresh cracked pepper
4 tbsp of grass-fed butter, plus more for garnish
1 large clove of garlic, grated
2 green onions, whites and stems, sliced on the diagonal
4 cups of finely chopped kale leaves
Steam the cauliflower in a large pot in about 2″ of water with the lid on over medium heat, checking often to make sure it doesn’t burn. For frozen cauliflower, less water is needed. Once the cauliflower is just soft, add to a high-speed blender with the heavy cream, salt & pepper, and blend until smooth-ish. In the same pot, heat the 4 tbsp of butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and green onions and sauté until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the cauliflower mash back to the pot, and stir in the kale. Cover and keep warm over very low heat. Now is the time to cook your Banger Patties.
Once the Colcannon, Onion Gravy, and Banger Patties are finished, divide into 4 portions. Add a scoop of Colcannon, make a small divot in the centre and add a bit more butter (this makes the dish if you ask me). Lay 2 of the Banger Patties, beside the Colcannon, and top the patties with the Onion Gravy, as shown below. Enjoy immediately, or keep in the fridge for a week or the freezer for 3 months.