The dawning of a new year normally sparks something within us to begin afresh, whether it’s in the form of a healthier diet, exercising more, altering a career path or taking up a new-fangled hobby. After the year we’ve all experience, I think we can be forgiven for not embracing the whole resolution ritual with as much gusto as we may have in previous years. However, without it even being a conscious pledge, our health and that of our loved ones will most likely be what’s at the forefront of our minds as we apprehensively embrace this brand-new year.

Thankfully, in recent times, press and social media platforms have become less focused on promoting the diets which hold the promise of the illusive, flawless figure, and concentrate more on endorsing the strong body and mind, and along with it an acceptance that bodies do indeed come in all shapes and sizes. If you have suffered from any sort of ill health in the past, I'm sure you'll agree with me, the desire for the body to heal and become stronger will always outweigh those extra couple of pounds on the scales.

Eat less, move more, is a long-standing mantra for a healthier lifestyle, and makes perfect sense for those striving for a little weight loss. Nevertheless, if we’re trying to strengthen our bodies, along with increasing our level of exercise, we also need to eat a little more too, taking particular attention to boost our intake of fresh foods which are nutritionally dense. When adapting to a more nourishing diet it can be helpful to consider, whether a particular dish or food is filled with the sort of nutrients which will help to fuel the body efficiently. With this to the forefront of the mind, we can more often make better food choices. A nutrient-heavy meal need not be extravagant nor costly; a simple poached egg served alongside a slice of wholemeal soda bread is packed with vital vitamins and minerals. Add to it a serving of wilted spinach and a grating of cheddar cheese and it becomes a rather nutrient complete meal. 

It is important to fuel our bodies with delicious wholesome foods, yet still not deny ourselves the occasional slice of cake or treat, when the need arises. Keeping well hydrated and getting a good night’s sleep will also play their part in promoting our bodies into a stronger and healthier state. 



Turkey Meatballs with Spaghetti 

With all the turkey consumed over the festive season, I’d forgive you for bypassing this recipe during the month of January, but as an ingredient turkey is so impressively nutritious it should be celebrated all year round. High in protein and packed with vitamins and minerals, these turkey meatballs are a great addition to this tasty tomato sauce. 



For the meatballs

50g oats

450g turkey mince

1 onion, finely grated 

1tbsp sweet chilli sauce

1 egg, lightly beaten

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

For the tomato sauce

1-2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tin cherry tomatoes

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 tsp dried herbs

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1tbsp sugar

Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

350g wholewheat spaghetti

100g baby spinach leaves


To serve

Parmesan or vintage cheddar cheese 




  1. Using a food processor, blitz the oats for a few seconds until finely chopped.
  2. Add to a large bowl along with the turkey mince, onion, sweet chilli sauce and egg. Season well with salt and pepper. Mix together to combine. 
  3. With a small bowl of cold water by your side, using damp hands, roll the mixture into about 20 meatballs. Chill in the fridge until ready to cook. 
  4. To make the sauce, heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and add some olive oil. Add the chopped onion, turn down the heat and sauté for about 10 minutes until soft and slightly coloured. Stir in the garlic and continue to cook for about 30 seconds. Add the tins of tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, dried herbs and sugar. Season with salt and pepper and increase the heat slightly under the pan. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Heat some olive oil in another large frying pan. Fry the meatballs, turning them occasionally, until they are golden brown and cooked through. Check by cutting one in half to make sure there are no signs of any pink meat. Add the meatballs to the sauce and cook for a further 10 minutes. 
  6. Meanwhile cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the pack.
  7. Remove the sauce from the heat. Stir through the spinach and add the cooked spaghetti. Combine well with the sauce and the meatballs.
  8. Divide between four bowls, and grate over a little parmesan or some vintage cheddar cheese. 


This recipe and introduction were taken from my January 2021 Home Nurse column, in Irish Country Living.