Mardi Gras is all about indulgence, and the traditional meals to celebrate this holiday often are, too. The spicy, creamy and fried foods associated with this time of year can be high in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.
Thankfully, almost all traditional Cajun dishes can be made using healthier ingredients and cooking methods. Look to these healthy Cajun recipes for inspiration.
Low-Fat Seafood Gumbo
Nothing says “Cajun cooking” like a pot of gumbo. But the traditional dish is usually made with sausage and roux, a butter-flour combination that gives the dish its stew-like texture and hearty flavor. For a healthier choice, make seafood gumbo with a low-fat roux. Emeril Lagasse’s low-fat seafood gumbo uses minimal oil and butter, and replaces the sausage with leaner proteins — shrimp, oysters, clams and crab meat.
You can skip the sausage and still make a great gumbo, but jambalaya isn’t jambalaya without it. For a heart-healthy dish, use turkey or chicken sausage instead of pork. This jambalaya recipe calls for turkey sausage, shrimp, chicken, low-sodium chicken broth and a variety of Cajun spices for that authentic creole kick.
Slimmed Down Shrimp Po’ Boy
The most famous Cajun sandwich — the po’ boy — typically contains roast beef or fried seafood and is served with melted butter. This slimmed down shrimp po’ boy is a healthier take with sautéed shrimp, fresh herb buttermilk slaw, a whole grain baguette and Cajun spices.
Good-for-You Creole Red Snapper
Fish is a high-protein food full of omega-3 fatty acids, a.k.a. the “good” fat. It’s a key part of a heart-healthy diet, unless it’s fried or drenched in butter — as it usually is in Cajun dishes.
Health.com’s Creole Red Snapper recipe calls for only one tablespoon of olive oil. The fish gets its most of its flavor from the thick tomato sauce that’s poured over it, which includes onion, bell pepper, garlic, low-sodium Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, basil and hot sauce.
Healthy Cajun Chicken Pasta
Made with Alfredo sauce and cheese, a traditional Cajun chicken pasta dish is high in fat and cholesterol. The “Today” show‘s recipe for healthier Cajun chicken pasta slims down the recipe by using low-fat milk instead of thick cream and butter. Loaded with tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, garlic, parmesan cheese and Cajun seasonings, this lighter option is still full of flavor.
Want more healthy Cajun recipes? You don’t have to start from scratch. Use the tips and tricks from these five recipes to lighten up your favorite Cajun dishes.