With customers looking for more nutritious, health-conscious dishes, restaurants are adapting their menus to fit the bill. Hotel & Catering Review takes a look at some popular healthy food from around the country

Food that benefits us nutritionally and promotes our wellbeing, both physically and mentally, is having its day. Restaurants are responding to customers’ requirements by adding wholesome yet tasty dishes to their menus so much so that these days, you’d be hard pressed to find a menu without one or two healthy options.

Cathal Kavanagh, Executive Chef at Blackrock Clinic, knows a thing or two about healthy food. Last year he completed a Masters in Applied Culinary Nutrition and made the move from hotels into healthcare. “My father’s hospital stay motivated me to change career. I couldn’t believe the poor quality of food available to patients and became aware of my lack of knowledge when it came to what was actually in food as opposed to how to make food taste nice or look presentable.” As Executive Chef at Blackrock Clinic, Cathal has revamped the menus with the aim of improving patient care through the food offering. “I was Executive Chef at both Carton House and the Westbury Hotel; moving to the healthcare sector was a big change. I’m not cooking for the masses anymore; all patients have different requirements. The right food can make their lives better, both nutritionally but also psychologically if they’re enjoying their meal.”
Restaurants are making much more of an effort to include health and wellness menus, says Cathal. “Chefs have changed how they’re preparing food; the days of the heavy creamy sauces are in the past. Today, it’s all about taste and texture. The challenge lies in knowing how to deal with ingredients and how to cook them. The success in most food operations, whether healthcare or more commercial, is based on the prep that goes into the actual product and how they’re cooked.” Cathal believes chefs should be given the opportunity to learn about nutrition and implement this knowledge into their menus. “I learned so much in the MA course. I didn’t realise how ignorant I was in areas that I previously would have taken for granted. We have amazing talented chefs in Ireland; it would be great if they were given the chance to learn about the food they’re preparing.”



150g cooked butternut squash

120g cooked sweet potato

100g bok choy

80g carrots par boiled

80g broccoli par boiled

80g peppers sliced

80g Chinese leaves

½ lime juice

80g mushrooms cut in 4

3 dsp rapeseed oil

3 cloves garlic crushed

¼ dsp palm sugar

1 dsp fish sauce

2 kaffir lime leaves

1dsp rapeseeds oil

30g red curry paste

200ml coconut milk


Prepare the red curry sauce.

Bring the wok to a medium heat and add the oil and curry paste, stir until there is a good aroma.

Add the coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves and then season with fish sauce and palm sugar. Keep sauce to one side.

Bring the wok to a medium heat and add the oil and garlic, stir these ingredients until you get a good aroma.

Then add butternut squash, sweet potato, bok choy, carrots, broccoli, peppers, Chinese leaves and mushrooms. Pour in the red curry sauce over the ingredients and mix well together.

Before serving add a squeeze of lime.



 2 x tortilla wraps

500g x chicken breast

2 tsps. x olive oil

15g x cheddar cheese

3g x coriander

Handful spring onions

Jalapenos to taste

Toppings: guacamole, sour cream, salsa


Slice the chicken breast into portions and lightly salt and pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.

Cook the chicken in the oil for 8 minutes or until no longer pink.

Set the chicken aside to cool, whilst cooling prepare the accompaniments.

Cut the spring onions and dice the jalapenos very finely; you want a hint of heat and jalapeno flavour, but you don’t want to cause any fires.

Grate the cheddar cheese.

Top one tortilla wrap with the cooked, sliced chicken, cheese, coriander, spring onions, and jalapenos.

Place second wrap on top and place the quesadilla on the hob in a dry pan on low-medium heat.

Toast until the cheese has melted and wrap is warmed through and browned nicely on both sides.

Slice into wedges and serve with Chef’s recommendations: guacamole, sour cream, spicy tomato salsa.

Enjoy, best served with a chilled sangria or a Chardonnay!



Compressed watermelon:

Watermelon Peeled, place in a vac pac bag

One orange zest and juice

Two sprigs Coriander

1 sprig Mint

10ml Olive Oil

Sweet Potato:

1 Large Sweet Potato diced in big square

10ml Olive Oil

1 Sprig of Thyme

¼ tsp Cumin Seeds

¼ tsp Coriander Seeds


30 gr Tricolor Quinoa

Veg Bouillon

Fresh herbs

Olive Oil

10gr Pumpkin Seeds

20gr Feta

Cumin Dressing:

1/8 honey

50gr Dijon Mustard

50gr wholegrain Mustard

One orange zest and juice

200ml Cider Vinegar

500ml Olive Oil

1 litres Oil


Compress the watermelon with all the ingredient to infuse all the flavour. Ounce infused preferably overnight dice the same size as the sweet potato.

Roast the sweet potato with all the spices until tender and cool down

Cook the tricolour Quinoa with the veg bouillon. When cooked Seasoned with olive oil some of the dressing and some fresh chopped herbs.

In the plate put the quinoa at the bottom of the bowl with crumble feta on top and toasted pumpkin seeds three pieces of watermelon and sweet potato top the lot with microgreens.



2 Zucchinis

1 Yellow pepper

1 Red pepper

200 g Snap peas

350 g Sprouting broccoli

3 Pak Choi

6 Organic Salmon fillets, 180 g each


200 ml Orange Juice

66 ml Soy Sauce

30 g Shallots

1 Garlic Clove

40 g Peeled Ginger

1 Lime Juiced


Peel shallots and garlic; put into a food processor and set it to mix slowly. Then, add the soy sauce and orange juice and mix for 1 minute. Pass through strainer into a large bowl and add in lime juice.

Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius.

Slice the Zucchini in half lengthways (removing seeds with a spoon) and slice them half-moon shaped, around 2/3 mm thick.

Slice the peppers in similar fashion; clean the snap peas, removing head and tail; blanch in water for two minutes.

Tidy up the sprouting broccoli by trimming the stalk; blanch in water for 2 minutes.

Cut the bottom off the pak choi, cut in half lengthways and blanch in water for 1 minute.

Put a pan on a medium heat and add some vegetable oil, then sear the salmon skin-down for two minutes. Place on a baking tray in the oven for seven minutes.

In the meantime, put a wok pan (or a large flat pan) on medium heat and add vegetable oil.

Add the peppers and the zucchini, cook for about two minutes then add the snap peas, broccoli and pak choi. Cook for a further minute, then add the orange ginger sauce; bring to simmer.

To serve, spoon the vegetables onto your plates. Serve salmon on top of vegetables, spooning a little orange ginger sauce onto the salmon.