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Dublin: 13°C Tuesday 16 August 2022

Olympian, author and fitness expert Derval O'Rourke shares some healthy recipes

Derval offers some simple tips for maintaining health and well-being during the Covid-19 shutdown.

Derval O’Rourke

AS A BUSY mom of two who’s juggling life at the moment – I’m trying to stay positive and lower my expectations because this isn’t an easy time for any of us, and we will have hard days. Yes, I want all the chocolate, to binge Netflix and drink all the wine, BUT that won’t ultimately see us through this phase we are in. 

Work-wise, I’m based at home and putting all my focus on my healthy lifestyle platform,, which has been a genuine pleasure. On Monday we started a brand new four-week challenge, Summer Strong, so I have thrown myself into it, both from a planning point of view but also taking part in the challenge myself! 

Self-care is key

Life at the moment is strange and I think above all else minding yourself is the key. For me I’m minding myself when I’m eating well and exercising, the Summer Strong challenge is helping me to do that and I’m delighted there are so many people joining me on this four-week journey. It’s been an amazing space for me to feel all the positive vibes and community support in recent weeks. 

The challenge provides us with a new home workout to complete each day; weekly meal plans to follow and daily self-care tips, so we’re certainly kept busy! We’ve also started hosting live home workouts within my private Facebook group, which creates an amazing sense of community among the 4,000 members of the group. There is endless encouragement and support from my web members.

Regardless of what particular schedule or plan you are working from at the moment, trying to incorporate healthy eating and movement is key. I guarantee you will feel 100 times better for it. 

Many of us are spending more time cooking and baking with our families – I think everyone caught the baking-bug at some point over the last few weeks. This means it’s a great opportunity to try new recipes and put more of a focus on eating healthily.

A huge element of is nutrition and in particular portioning. Lots of people think they need to follow recipes in order to create a meal, but if you know how to portion correctly, then you can build so many different meals.

Simple and healthy recipes: 

I’m all about cooking healthy lunches and dinners that are quick and easy to prepare. I think it’s very important that we allow ourselves some chocolate and treats – so I’ve given you the recipe for my Runners Rocky Road.

This is a great recipe and one which will definitely satisfy your sweet cravings. It’s also a lovely recipe for baking with the smallies!

Spicy steak salad

Derval’s spicy steak salad

A cooked chicken breast works great here instead of the steak.

You can also season your chicken breast first by rubbing with a little olive oil and sprinkling some rosemary over it.

Serves 2

For the salad:

  • a handful of pine nuts

  • 2 handfuls of mixed salad leaves

  • a handful of mint leaves, chopped

  • a handful of coriander leaves

  • a small bunch of scallions, trimmed and finely sliced

  • ½ small cucumber, thinly sliced

For the dressing:

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed

  • ½red chilli, finely chopped(more if you want a big kick)

  • 2 tbsp lime juice

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

  • 1 tbsp fish sauce

  • 1 tsp agave

  • 2 x 200 grump or striploin steaks (about 2cm thick), removed from the fridge 15 minutes, before cooking

  • olive oil

  • salt and pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Spread the pine nuts on a baking tin and bake for 5–10 minutes or until toasted, turning halfway through. Set aside to cool (but leave the oven on for the steaks).

  2. Heat a grill pan or frying pan over high heat. Rub both sides of each steak with a little olive oil. Season the steaks and place them in the pan.

  3. Cook for 2 minutes on each side. Lay the steaks in an ovenproof dish, cover with foil and place in the oven for 5–10 minutes.

  4. When the steaks are cooked to your liking, remove them from the oven and allow them to rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place all of the salad ingredients in a large serving bowl.

  5. Place all of the dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake well to combine. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well.

  6. Use a sharp knife to cut the cooked steaks into thin strips. Arrange the steak strips on top of the salad and serve without delay.

RUNNERS ROCKY ROAD - 2 (3)(1) Source: Derval O'Rourke

Derval’s snack hacks

These rocky roads are one of my favourite snacks – they’re delicious and easy to make. I get questions on snacking all the time, here are a few of my top snacking tips:

  • Aim for two snacks per day (I have mine between breakfast and lunch, and lunch and dinner)

  • Try to plan/prepare your snacks in advance – this will reduce the chance of you reaching for the easy snack options like crisps or chocolate!

  • Keep yourself hydrated – sometimes we can mistake thirst for hunger, so try to keep a glass of water with you at all times.

Runners Rocky Road

Prep Time: 10 mins, plus one hour to set in the fridge


  • 250 g dark chocolate (75% or more), broken into small pieces

  • 1 tsp coconut oil

  • 75g toasted granola

  • 75g nuts of choice

  • 75g pumpkin or sunflower seeds

  • 75g dried cranberries

  • 50g desiccated coconut


  1. Place chocolate and coconut oil in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan half-filled with simmering water. Stir with a metal spoon until all chocolate is melted.

  2. Add the granola, nuts, seeds, cranberries and coconut to the chocolate mix and stir.

  3. Once all the ingredients are evenly coated in chocolate turn the mix out onto a greaseproof lined baking tray.

  4. Let to set in for 1 hour in the fridge.

  5. Using a hot knife cut into portions and store in an airtight container in the fridge

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Some key considerations when it comes to eating:

• Plate size – your plate should be approximately the size of your hand from your wrist to the tip of your middle finger

• Consider the breakdown of veggies, carbs, protein and healthy fats on your plate. This is an area I focus on all the time:  

  • To maintain or drop weight, your plate should be 50% Vegetables, 25% Protein, 25% Carbohydrates and 1tbsp of healthy fats. (This is a guideline and one that I recommend for your portioning). 

  • To increase your weight: Increase your serving of healthy fats by 1-2 tablespoons on your balanced plate and you can also increase your carbohydrates if preferred by adding an extra few tablespoons of your carbohydrate source.

For all your fitness, nutrition and wellness needs, head to – I’m offering a seven-day free trial at the moment, so you can try before you buy! #MayisforMe

Derval O’Rourke is a three-time Olympian, best-selling author, Ireland’s Fittest Family coach, and creator of healthy lifestyle platform

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Derval O’Rourke

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