The Healthy Plates Initiative with Uncle Ben’s

**Nope not sponsored by Uncle Ben or Aunty Bessie or any other long-lost relatives. Delighted to say I learned loads and left with a fantastic recipe**

The team working with Uncle Ben’s recently invited me to a mini workshop with renowned chef Gary O’Hanlon and esteemed dietician Orla Walsh (Athletics Ireland). They were launching a campaign to show Ireland how easy it is to make a healthier plate, in minutes. The healthy eating plate idea focuses on  food groups and the quality of food rather than the pain in the BLEEP calorie counting.


My Dish – Adapted from Gary’s Recipe

My diet goes through phases of good, bad and Dear God is there nothing you won’t eat (in copious amounts). Plus I’m a massive food fan and I’ve  weakness for baked goods. I was delighted to be asked along for a private consultation around my diet with Orla and then to lend a hand to Gary who was cooking up a dish tailored to my needs.

“The great thing about Orla was she spoke my language.  She actually talked in pie”

Prior to heading in to meet them I filled  out a questionnaire and was a little shocked to see first hand how fond I am of a muffin for breakfast. My excuse, like many I’m sure, is its quick and easy and available in the Spar on the way to work.  I’ve only recently completed a course in Sports Nutrition myself so the timing of this couldn’t have been better.  I was in the head space where I wanted to learn more about making smart but small changes to my diet.  Changes which over time would benefit me the way I wanted.   I like to run so I told Orla I wanted to work on energy levels and becoming more lean physically.   The great thing about Orla was she spoke my language.  She actually talked in ‘pie’ ! Yes she explained smart choices and small changes using apple pie as an example. Now there’s a dietician I could listen to and learn from all day.

She took me through a simple yet effective template of what should be on my plate. A mix of wholegrains (I’m failing miserably here), healthy protein and vegetables and fruits.  In terms of fuel for running she gave me a beyond simple break down of where I should increase or decrease categories depending on whether I was inactive (lying on the couch), active (doing a bit) or mad active (yes she said mad active e.g. running). When we chatted about the abnormal amount of packets of crisps I go through I may have looked at the ground in shame. Luckily for me she didn’t pack an ounce of judgement with her for the consultation and  I left Orla inspired and determined to make some changes.

‘Over to you Gary’

Orla passed me over to Chef Gary O’Hanlon who had put together a great dish for me. It was a kedgeree with courgette, peas and onion.  Cooking with Gary is basically just having a natter and he is the most easy going chap ever.  He explained the steps simply and listened to my endless questions.  Apparently there is no such thing as a stupid question, although he may have lied about that so I didn’t look like a fool.  The recipe was simple, tasty and easy to make and I tucked into it for lunch.  In return I gave Gary a crash course in Snapchat, a fair trade if you ask me.  Then again I’ll do anything for a bit of food.  Have a peak below my shameless selfie for the adapted version of Gary’s recipe I put together.  His had fish, I substituted it for chicken, added a little more spice and left out the boiled egg (I had none). It’s a great recipe and so simple to adapt to your own tastes.


Shamless Selfie

 Fake (Kedgeree, I took the fish out) – Boiled Chicken with Spring Onion & Pea

Ingredients:  Serves 2

220g Uncle Ben’s Wholegrain Rice & Quinoa

400g of diced chicken

Oxo chicken stock cube/water

2 spring onions

1 onion

2 tbspn of curry powder

Handful of garden peas

Salt & Pepper to taste


Dice the chicken and boil gently in chicken stock. Enough to cover the chicken (Oxo chicken stock, add herbs if you wish)

Heat a frying pan with a little oil and add the onion and spring onion and sweat for a couple of minutes.

Add the curry powder, mix it well and cook it out on a low heat for two minutes.

Add in 5-8 tbspns of the chicken stock and mix well.

Add the Uncle Ben’s wholegrain rice and quinoa. Mix well and cook through for a few minutes

Add the chicken back in now, season and serve.

You can also find some more wholegrain based recipes right here!


My Version of Gary’s Dish


My Version of Gary’s Dish

Feel free to join in the conversation !