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Donal Skehan Cooks Diabetic Treats

Monday, 29 March 2010

Donal Skehan

Donal comes from Dublin. He grew up in family obsessed with food and drink which made it pretty hard not for him to have an interest. He love's trying out new recipe's, adapting old ones, and tasting new things. He also has a serious addiction to cookbooks!

He grew up in Howth, a fishing village just outside Dublin, and as a kid one of his favourite things to do was to bake.

"I got such enjoyment out of producing something from a combination of ingredients which looked so completely different from their original state. My best friend and I used to hawk our creations to our poor neighbours who must have been driven mad with us knocking on their doors to sell them our produce for far more than it was worth!

The transition to cooking real meals came after I spent a summer in France with an old family friend. My mom had prepped me with five fool-proof recipes which I had been practicing and, on pain of death, I was to cook for the family! I was sent off with a hug, a kiss and a side of smoked salmon from the west pier in Howth, which was my mom's standard gift for foreign friends. However, after a long flight and a hot and sticky drive through the south of France, I ended up with a whole suitcase of clothing smelling of smoked salmon that lingered for the rest of the summer! As a willing guest, I sampled everything that was put in front of me, from classic French home-cooked dishes like Beef Bourguignonne and effortless yet elegant fresh green salads lightly dressed, to the simplicity of wafer-thin smoked ham and melon slices, a concept completely foreign to me as an Irish twelve-year-old. I was hooked!

Another turning point in my experiences with food came during my teens, when I was introduced to the Asian market in South Great Georges Street, Dublin. I discovered an array of incredible and fascinating foreign ingredients, with which completely unfamiliar dishes could be created. A pocket-sized Asian recipe book from my granny allowed me to work my way through recipes, from simple stir fries to Nasi Goreng, even making my own fortune cookies.

Nothing made me happier than watching other people eating the food I had created and more importantly enjoying it.

One of my first cheffing experiences was with the well-established Reveljen restaurant in Gothenberg, Sweden. They ran a unique and traditional Christmas Smorgasbord on Elfsbog Fastning, the island which sits just at the entrance of Gothenburg Harbour. My task was to churn out traditional Swedish Christmas dishes by the truckload - the island catered for staff Christmas parties and saw guests being ferried across from the mainland. During their journey over, they were numbed to the rough seas by the popular Christmas drink, Glogg. As you can imagine they were ready to eat by the time they arrived! The owners ran the whole event like a military operation, and even though I may not have been cooking haute cuisine, the kitchen skills and discipline that were drilled into us was absolutely invaluable.

Donal started a food blog called The Good Mood Food Blog in 2007 after he moved in to his first apartment. He always had an interest in photography so when he bought his first camera, he thought it was finally time to start documenting some dishes he was cooking and with that the blog was born! Most of the recipes on the blog try to include as many healthy ingredients as possible. The blog has many loyal followers and has had nearly a million hits! Donal's a big believer in the power of food and it's affects on our lives."

Some stats on Diabetes:

In Ireland, it is estimated that there are 200,000 people with diabetes with many unaware. The majority of these people will only be diagnosed through an acute medical event of the complications of long term untreated hyperglycaemia. A further 200,000 people have impaired glucose tolerance or "pre-diabetes" of which 40% will develop diabetes in the next 5 years if lifestyle changes are not made.

Chocolate and Raisin Cookies


. 150g margarine
. 75g soft light brown sugar
. 1 medium egg, beaten
. 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
. 75g plain wholemeal flour
. 1 teaspoon mixed spice
. 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
. 150g rolled oats
. 50g raisins
. 50g chocolate chips or chocolate cut into small pieces


Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 5

1. Cream together the margarine and sugar. Beat in the egg, 2 tablespoons water and the vanilla essence.
2. Sift together the flour, spice and bicarbonate of soda, tipping any bran in the sieve into the bowl.
3. Stir through the oats, raisins and chocolate, then stir into the egg mixture.
4. Line baking sheets with greaseproof paper or baking parchment.
5. Place walnut-sized pieces of the cookie mixture onto the baking sheets and flatten slightly with the back of a fork.
6. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden.

Nutritional information (Serves 24)

Each serving contains:
. 106 calories
. 2g protein
. 11g carbohydrates
. 6g fat

Yogurt and Vanilla Panna Cotta with Summer Fruits


. 4 gelatine leaves
. 2 tablespoons of artificial sweetener
. 4 tablespoons milk
. 600g natural yogurt
. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
. To serve:
. 200g strawberries, hulled
. 2 squeezes lemon juice
. 1 tablespoon artificial; sweetener
. 200g raspberries
. 100g blueberries
. A few squares dark chocolate


1. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water in a shallow dish.
2. Put the artificial sweetener and milk in a small pan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Bring up to the boil, then take off the heat. Take the gelatine out of the water and stir into the hot milk. Leave to cool for 10 minutes. Beat in the yogurt and vanilla extract and pour into 6 small moulds.
3. Chill until set (about 3 hours).
4. To make the sauce, puree the strawberries with the lemon juice and artificial sweetener. Sieve to remove pips. Mix the raspberries and blueberries in a separate large, pretty serving bowl.
5. To serve, dunk each mould into warm water for about 10 seconds, swiftly dry the base, then turn the panna cotta out on an individual plate.
6. Spoon a little of the strawberry sauce and some chocolate shavings around each pudding and serve.
7. Place the bowl of fruit in the middle of the tables and let people help themselves.