Christmas can take its toll on our immune system as a lot of us eat more and move less.

If you are tired of cooking and entertaining I have the perfect recipe using shitake mushroom that’s not only quick and easy but nutritious and delicious too.

Shitake Mushroom’s are known not only for their great taste but they’re packed with B vitamins and have the power to fight cancer cells, cardiovascular disease and infections. They have anti bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. During the winter months they are one of the few foods that provide vitamin D and they also help to boost energy and brain function.

As we move into January our food becomes even more important as many of us struggle with low mood and feel a bit of a crash post Christmas. It’s important to remember that January is a month for selfcare and not crazy resolutions. It’s still the middle of winter, which is the gestation period for both nature and us. It’s a month for inward reflection as we prepare for the year ahead.

To do this we need nourishing food, nourishing thoughts and nourishing rest. Pop in some movement and air and you will be ready for Spring where you will emerge stronger ready for the year ahead.

Try this simple recipe, which is great for all the family and it will help you to ease into the new-year with comfort and calm.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

3 Cloves garlic

Large handful of shitake mushroom’s (see video)

1 Lemon

Handful of Basil

Fresh Parmesan

Salt/Black pepper

Barilla Spaghetti


Boil water and put in pasta with some salt

  • Heat the pan and add oil and garlic
  • Add chopped shitake mushrooms and cook until softened (5-8 mins depending on mushrooms)
  • Add in ½ a lemon zest
  • Squeeze in ½ juice of lemon
  • Save a cup of water from the pasta
  • Add pasta and then parmesan and stir through
  • If it’s a little dry add some of the water
  • Plate and serve with fresh black pepper and parmesan shavings

Barilla calling on students to unlock their inner TriHero

triheroes, shitake mushroom, barilla, recipes, schools, exercise, selfcare, shitake mushrooms, sport, pastaPrimary and secondary schools are being encouraged to register for TriHeroes, a schools triathlon programme which brings together the lifelong activities of swimming, cycling and running to inspire, motivate and challenge children to participate in a healthy and active lifestyle.

The TriHeroes programme, delivered by Triathlon Ireland and supported by Barilla, a family owned Italian food company and advocate for a healthy lifestyle, helps teachers introduce triathlon activities in a safe and positive environment.

Delivered by Triathlon Ireland’s development team, the programme is typically run over six 90-minute training sessions with students taking part in a mini triathlon at the end of the programme giving students a taste of this hugely popular sport and exposing them to three sports that could see them excel in the Leaving Cert and later life.

Primary and secondary schools can find out more about the TriHeroes programme at and register their interest at

A gourmet selection of recipes, perfect for budding triathletes and prepared with seasonal ingredients for vegetarians, as well as meat and fish lovers is available at

There’s a lot of talk these days about healthy eating, but some things I hear make me question if we really understand what eating healthily means


I have teamed up with the butlers pantry to explore the area of healthy food on the go. I have been given some of their winter menu to sample for this series of articles.

The idea of excluding whole food groups from your diet does not seem to me to be a sustainable or healthy way of eating, and I enjoy my food too much ever to be able to give up bread, butter, or good dark chocolate. That said, I love my fruit and vegetables too, and cram as many of them into my daily diet as possible.

What’s clear to me is that it’s important to eat good quality food, and to keep processed food to an absolute minimum, and that includes the so-called ‘healthy’ foods in the supermarkets.

The Butler’s Pantry, which is celebrating 30 years in business this year was ahead of its time when it started out, because it focused on making wholesome fresh food from the very best of ingredients, always putting flavor to the fore. Over the years, some of the dishes have changed to keep up with changing tastes, but The Butler’s Pantry has stayed true to its core values, and its team of chefs and bakers make the food for its shops from scratch each day in its own kitchen in Bray.

Why eat healthily?

It may seem obvious, but to me it makes sense that if you eat good, fresh and nutritious food, you are making the best choice for your mind and body. And freshly-prepared food is far more nutritious than anything made with additives and preservatives to prolong its shelf-life.

Here are some top tips for eating more healthily:

Replace salt with alternatives

Although we all need salt in our diet, the ideal amount is just a teaspoon a day and some processed meals can contain that much in a single serving! If you have elevated blood pressure, restricting the amount of salt in your diet can help lower your blood pressure.

Some great substitutes for salt are pepper, fresh herbs and spices, all of which add flavour to your food. At The Butler’s Pantry, they use dillisk (powdered seaweed) in some of their delicious meals – it’s particularly suited to fish dishes. 

Make sure you are eating real bread, like proper sourdough

Sourdough bread is everywhere these days, but how much of the bread that’s labelled ‘sourdough’ is the real deal? True sourdough bread contains only flour, water and salt, is fermented slowly and has great flavour. The Butler’s Pantry’s bakers make fresh sourdough bread each day, using a ‘mother’ or ‘starter’ that they have nurtured carefully for several years. The slow fermentation using naturally-occurring lactobacilli and yeast that produces real sourdough bread breaks down hard-to-digest gluten into more easily absorbed nutrients, and adds B-vitamins. When you eat proper sourdough, you ingest lots of the good bacteria that are important for maintaining and promoting a healthy gut microbiome.

Commercial sourdough brings none of the healthy benefits of authentic sourdough because neither the process nor the time allowed for fermentation permit the breakdown of gluten or the growth of good bacteria.

How do you spot a good sourdough from an imposter? Cut open a good sourdough and inhale – it’s slightly sour, tangy, and very comforting.

At the end of the day, choose real food 

After dinner once a week have a small piece of a delicious seasonal dessert such as the Winter Fruit Crumble from The Butler’s Pantry. The recipe is below if you fancy making it yourself at home. 




Healthy Apple Crumble

Serves 4 – 6


Plums                          4

Apples                         4

Blackberries                2 punnets

Sugar                         100g

Vanilla                         1 pod

Butter                          50g

Almond crumble

Ground almonds                     100g

Butter                                    100g

Sugar                                     100g

Plain Flour                               100g


  1. Cut the plums into quarters and remove the stones.
  2. Core the apples and cut into eighths
  3. Heat a large frying pan, add the butter and split vanilla pod and, when the butter starts to foam, add in the fruit and sugar.
  4. Toss in the pan and cook for a couple of minutes before transferring to a an 8 inch pie dish.
  5. For the topping, mix all the ingredients together until it becomes a crumb.
  6. Sprinkle on top of the fruit and bake in a preheated oven at 160c/ fan 140c / gas mark 3 until golden brown.
  7. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream

The Sun is shining, bees are buzzing, we are dining outdoors and every young lad in the country has a big aul farmers tan. This can only mean one thing. Summer is here and while it seems to last for just one day rather than a full season, it is still the perfect excuse to whip up a cool treat to beat the heat.


Bite Size Bowls

This week we are thrilling and chilling that sweet tooth with gluten and dairy free ice cream. This recipe is perfect for those of us who (like myself) are currently staring into a fruit bowl full of almost over ripe bananas. So chop them all up and pop them into the freezer. What you don’t use now for ice cream you can always use later for a smoothie.

Bananas are full of potassium and vitamin B6 but aside from their health benefits they also provide the perfect texture for our vegan ice cream.

This heavenly dessert tastes so good that it must be a sin, but it’s really a saint as we are adding sweet zinc filled strawberries, anti oxidant packed blueberries and magnesium rich cacao nibs (which deserve and entire blog of their own).

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 Bananas
  • 2 Tbsp Raw Cacao Nibs
  • 2 Tbsp Crunchy Organic Peanut Butter
  • Handful of Blueberries
  • Handful of Strawberries
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • Maple Syrup
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract (optional)

Ice cream


  1. Slice and freeze the bananas.
  2. Once frozen add them to a food processor and blend.
  3. Chop the strawberries and add them to the blender along with the blue berries, cacao nibs, sea salt, peanut butter and vanilla extract.
  4. Whiz it all up until the texture is similar to ice cream.
  5. Drizzle with maple syrup and serve in a wafer, cone, bowl or any way you like. 

All the ingredients mentioned above can be found at The Green Door Market. Like us on Facebook and follow me on Instagram as I continue my culinary adventures.      

Now I know what you’re thinking “Alex are you hopping onto the hipster band wagon? will you grow a trendy beard? tie your hair up into a man bun? or ride a vintage bicycle made entirely out of recycled drain pipes?”


Well thankfully the answer to all those questions is no. However I will continue to treat myself to the increasingly popular nutrient packed, and crunchy nutty flavoured delight that is avocado toast.

Avocados are bursting with heart healthy fatty acids plus 20 different vitamins and minerals. They contain more potassium than bananas and are free from sodium and cholesterol. It isn’t surprising that people are beginning to consider the avocado a super food as they are loaded with antioxidants plus vitamins K, C, B5, B6 and E.

Today I am going to share with you two of my favourite quick and snappy avocado toast recipes that are so delicious they’ll make you want to ditch the plain old bread and butter.


  1. Honey Drizzled Apple and Cashew Avocado Toast.

avocado, apple, basil, healthy recipes,sweet and spicy avocado toast, nutrition, health, wellbeing, the green door, alex hayes, alison canavan, becomplete, organic food,

The bread that you use is one of the most important elements to both of these recipes so be sure to grab your favourite fresh baked loaf. My preferred bread has to be a crisp country loaf but you can use anything from sourdough to Rye just as long as it toasts well.


What you’ll need:

  • Bread
  • Avocado
  • Apple
  • Cashew Nuts
  • Honey
  • Fresh Basil


The subtle peppery flavour of fresh basil sets this recipe apart. The combination of sweet honey and apple on top of the nuttiness of the cashews and avocado creates a divinely unique summery sensation.


  • Slice the avocado in half and remove the seed before placing it (without it’s skin) into a bowl.
  • Mash the avocado until it is spreadable.
  • Pop your bread in the toaster or under the grill until it is golden brown.
  • Spread the avocado onto the toast.
  • Next add some chopped apple and cashew nuts.
  • Lightly drizzle your honey over the toast.
  • Garnish with some fresh basil leaves.


  1. Spicy Peanut Rayu and Lime Avocado Toast.

avocado, apple, basil, healthy recipes,sweet and spicy avocado toast, nutrition, health, wellbeing, the green door, alex hayes, alison canavan, becomplete, organic food,

Peanut Rayu has become one of my all time favourite toast toppers. It is a delicious blend of sunflower oil, peanuts, sesame seeds, tamari, honey, salt, chilli flakes and crispy garlic. Luckily “White Mausu – Peanut Rayu” produced by the amazingly talented chef Katie Sanderson is always at hand in The Green Door Pantry. However I have good news for those of you without access to that jar of heaven. Subbing in your favourite hot sauce works as a great alternative when paired with the fresh kick of lime.


What you’ll need:

  • Bread
  • Avocado
  • Peanut Rayu (or hot sauce)
  • Lime



  • Slice the avocado in half and remove the seed before placing it (without it’s skin) into a bowl.
  • Mash the avocado until it is spreadable.
  • Pop your bread in the toaster or under the grill until it is golden brown.
  • Spread the avocado onto the toast.
  • Next spread some peanut rayu/hot sauce on top.
  • Finally finish by squeezing a little lime juice over the top.


All the ingredients mentioned above can be found at The Green Door Market. Like us on Facebook and follow me on Instagram as I continue my culinary adventures.