5 Steps to a Family-Friendly St. Patrick’s Day

Melissa d'Arabian's Green Morning Smoothie

Photo by: Tara Donne ©FOOD NETWORK : 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Tara Donne, FOOD NETWORK : 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Despite my last name (which is Armenian thanks to a distant relative somewhere in my French husband's family), I'm actually an Irish gal (my maiden name is Donovan). So I've celebrated St. Patrick's Day with the gusto of an Irish lassie my whole life.

St. Patrick's Day is a religious holiday, and the shamrock was originally a symbol for the Holy Trinity. According to tradition, the rules of Lent were lifted on St. Patrick's Day, which meant Catholics could eat and drink relatively freely for one day in the midst of Lenten fasting. And somehow that morphed into rowdy visits to Irish pubs, drinking green beer and singing "Seven Drunken Nights" (who could see that coming?). So St. Patrick's has become a cultural celebration, and for our family, St. Patrick's Day is a day of wearing green, playing fun leprechaun tricks for the kids, and eating green foods and traditional Irish fare. Want to join us? Here is our five-step approach to celebrating St. Patty's Day in style:

1. We wear green. I almost didn't even write this one. Because duh. (Plus, I have green eyes, so this really only makes sense.)

2. We guard ourselves for the arrival of the mischievous leprechauns. There are friendly leprechauns who come in the night and make an innocuous mess, knocking over a (relatively clean) trash can and mixing up shoe piles. These leprechauns leave behind a trail of gold chocolate coins and maybe some green erasers (because they are always on sale at the craft store).

3. We make green smoothies and zucchini muffins for breakfast. Call it the family-friendly version of green beer, but my girls love to start the day with green food. (Unlike Valentine's Day, when we stay in pink and red food all day, this is a breakfast-only affair for St. Patrick's Day.) I make my Green Morning Smoothie and Zucchini Mini Muffins with Orange Maple Glaze. You can even add a drop of all-natural green food coloring to the glaze.

4. We don't need an excuse for music and dancing in our house. My girls will choreograph a dance number to just about anything! For mood music, I play some classic Irish folk music. For some ideas, search "traditional Irish music" on the Internet to load up on some catchy tunes that will have your kids singing too.

5. Make a classic Irish dish for dinner. Our favorite is Corned Beef and Cabbage, but I also have a recipe for you Shepherd's Pie fans. And for those of you who are less classic and want just a tasty stew starring beer, grab some Guinness and make my Pot Roast Carbonnade. (It's a Belgian stew, but your secret is safe with me.)

Do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day? I'd love to hear about your traditions!

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