Originally designated as a day of gluttony before the beginning of the self-sacrificing season of Lent, Mardi Gras has now become synonymous with loud music, parades, parties and consuming large amounts of sweets and alcohol. While these Fat Tuesday traditions are meant to be fun and celebratory, they’re certainly not the healthiest.
Putting a Healthy Spin on Mardi Gras Food
A single slice of King Cake, the most traditional Mardi Gras food, can come with as many as 462 calories, which on top of the other foods and drinks consumed, can increase your caloric intake very quickly. Luckily, there are ways you can still enjoy your favorite Mardi Gras food without straying too far from your diet with these healthy Mardi Gras recipes.
Whether you’re celebrating Mardi Gras with family and friends or you just want to carry out some Fat Tuesday traditions at home this year, these healthy Mardi Gras recipes are perfect for any celebration.
Appetizer: Cheese Dip with Crawfish (from My Recipes)
With only 115 calories per serving, this easy-to-make dip is perfect for any party. Crawfish is a New Orleans speciality, but if you’re not a fan or don’t have crawfish at your disposal, you can easily use cooked shrimp in this recipe instead.
- 2 teaspoons butter
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pound frozen cooked peeled and deveined crawfish tail meat, thawed, rinsed, and drained
- 1 pound light processed cheese, cubed (such as Velveeta Light)
- 1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained
- 1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained
- 1/2 cup chopped green onions
- 5 1/2 ounces baked tortilla chips
- Green onion strips (optional)
- Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Add onion and garlic; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.
- Add crawfish; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove mixture from pan; cover and keep warm.
- Add cheese and tomatoes to pan; cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes or until cheese melts.
- Stir in crawfish mixture and chopped green onions.
- Serve with tortilla chips. Garnish with green onion strips, if desired.
Appetizer/Entree: Cajun Scallops (from Health.com)
Perfect as a second appetizer or even as an entree, these spicy cajun scallops are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote heart and mental health.
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 large red onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
- 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1 garlic clove
- 3/4 pound fresh scallops
- 1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce
- Heat oil in a cast-iron skillet over high heat.
- Add onion, Cajun seasoning, and pepper; sauté 3 minutes.
- Add butter and garlic; sauté 30 seconds.
- Add scallops; cook 1 minute or until browned.
- Sprinkle with hot sauce; turn. Cook 3 minutes or until done.
Entree: Jambalaya Stew (from Health.com)
It’s not uncommon for jambalaya stew to be at the center of most Fat Tuesday traditions, and this recipe brings all the tastes of the bayou to your home. Plus, studies have shown that spicy foods actually boost your metabolism and promote longevity.
- 4 cups water
- 2 1/2 cups chopped tomato (about 2 large)
- 1 1/2 cups chopped green bell pepper (about 2 small)
- 1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium)
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups uncooked instant rice
- 3 (8-ounce) cans no-salt-added tomato sauce
- 2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added red kidney beans, undrained
- 1 (16-ounce) package frozen sliced okra, thawed
- Combine first 10 ingredients in a large Dutch oven.
- Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and cook, uncovered, 5 minutes.
- Add rice and remaining ingredients.
- Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and cook, uncovered, 5 minutes or until okra is tender.
- Remove and discard bay leaf.
Dessert: Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce (from My Recipes)
If you’re craving something sweet and salty, this bread pudding with salted caramel sauce is the perfect way to round out your list of healthy Mardi Gras recipes. Its crispy crust, combined with a layer of sauce in the middle, makes this a succulent dessert.
Ingredients for the Bread Pudding:
- 5 cups (1/2-inch) cubed French bread (about 8 ounces)
- 1 cup evaporated fat-free milk
- 3/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs
Ingredients for the Sauce:
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons bourbon
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 6 tablespoons half-and-half, divided
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- To prepare bread pudding, arrange bread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes or until lightly toasted.
- Combine evaporated milk and next 7 ingredients (through eggs) in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add bread cubes. Let stand 20 minutes, occasionally pressing on bread to soak up milk.
- To prepare sauce, combine brown sugar, 3 tablespoons bourbon, and butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Simmer 2 minutes or until sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Stir in 5 tablespoons half-and-half; simmer 10 minutes or until reduced to about 1 cup. Remove pan from heat. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon half-and-half, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Keep warm.
- Spoon half of bread mixture into a 9 x 5inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Drizzle 3 tablespoons sauce over bread mixture. Spoon remaining half of bread mixture over sauce. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm sauce with bread pudding.
Healthy Eating, Healthy Living
In addition to a healthy diet, if you live alone, ensuring your safety at home is another essential element of healthy aging. With Medical Guardian’s reliable medical alert systems, you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you have access to round-the-clock protection should an emergency ever occur, even during holidays like Mardi Gras.