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Celebrity Health - Donal Skehan

A photo of Catherine Fulvio

'My foraging secrets'

Donal Skehan is a well-known television presenter, food writer and photographer. His career in food began with a blog in 2007 that showcased his photography skills. He has filmed several series of Kitchen Hero with RTÉ which have been sold to the UK, France and Brazil. Donal is also a judge and co-presenter of Junior MasterChef on the BBC. This summer a new RTÉ One series will be hitting screens where Donal travels around the country meeting older people and learning about classic Irish recipes, ingredients and cooking methods.

What sort of exercise do you do to keep in shape?

"At seven o’clock every morning I go for a cliff walk with my fiancé and our dog Max. We are lucky that the countryside is so lovely around Howth, Co Dublin. I do some stretching and light yoga and go for a run every now and again."

What sort of foods do you eat to stay healthy?

"I like lots of foods and am not a vegetarian, though I like lots of veggie recipes. We grow all our own vegetables – this summer we will have peas, lettuce, salad leaves, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, rhubarb, cabbage and kale. Pumpkins come later in the year, and I’m growing loads of herbs. Living in Howth where fishing trawlers come in we have access to fantastic fish. Nicky’s Place on the West Pier is somewhere I like to buy fish. Also, I live next door to a lobster fisherman so I know what the sea is doing on any given day."

What about natural Irish foods?

"Seaweed is great – I wish I ate more of it. I might live on the wrong coast for gathering local seaweed, as most of it grows in the west, but it doesn’t take long to cross the country. You can also buy dried seaweed in little packets, so that makes it easier to include in cooking."

"I make a cold and ’flu remedy using Carrageen moss. Basically it is a natural gelatin – you boil it for 10 minutes and it sets like a jelly, which you can eat as is, or add to lemons, honey and ginger to make a gloopy syrup which you drink while hot."

"I love foraging and it gives you a real connection with the seasons. At the moment there are nettles and wild garlic. One recipe I like is nettle soup with wild garlic oil – it is really nutritious and good for you. Soon my elder tree will flower and I will make elderflower cordial."

Do you go to Irish health stores?

"I don’t make stock all the time, so I like to stock up on Marigold organic vegetable bouillon powder which is sold in health stores. Also, I love to include grains, lentils, bulgar wheat etc in my cooking which you can get in health stores. I like Eskimo fish oils. I’m not taking any supplements at the moment because I’m trying to make my diet as healthy as possible."

Do you ever worry about your health?

"Not really. Sometimes I worry that if I’m really busy I won’t have time to follow my walking and running routine or fit in working in the garden. I try to include as many healthy ingredients in my cooking as I can. Filming can be quite stressful so to relax I like gardening, walking in the fresh air and being active."

Do you have any tips for Rude Health readers?

  • Have a routine – exercise keeps me going and I get great energy from it.
  • Keeping a good diet is very important.
  • Grains are my superfoods.
  • Include as many fresh vegetables, herbs etc in your diet as you can.
  • Include lots of fish in your diet.


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