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We may be poorer, but our diet's healthier

CELEBRITY chef Catherine Fulvio says Irish people's diets have improved -- because we've less money.

In her new RTE show Catherine's Family Kitchen, the Wicklow native is reinventing how the Irish approach food.

Despite the popularity of junk food here, Catherine says the Irish have improved their diets.

"We have become more well-informed about out foods and growing our own produce especially. The recession has helped hugely -- it's obviously cheaper to make home-made meals than to eat fast food or go out all the time."

However she warned that convenience food is still a popular here.

"We live in a fast-food culture where it's about how quickly we can get it on the table," Catherine told the Herald.


"I recently read a study that taking the time to sit down as a family at the dinner table reduces the risk of obesity."

"When cooking for my kids I try to use as much fruit and vegetables as possible. Aside from being nutritious, they're low in calories too -- it makes logical sense for me and my family."

Famous for her well-known Italian dishes -- thanks to time spent in Sicily with husband Claudio -- Catherine believes the link between family and food is important.

"In Italy, food is a really big deal, everyone has an opinion about it -- there are expectations about food there."

Each episode of the RTE eight-part series covers four recipes in which Catherine focuses on cooking traditional dinners with 'a twist' -- like Sunday roasts or baked potato recipes with an alternative flair.

Catherine's Family Kitchen starts on Friday at 8.30pm.