Nita’s Healthy Seafood Gumbo Recipe

Featured on New Orleans Fox 8 News!

Seafood Gumbo

2 tsp Pecan or olive oil
2 med onions  (2.5 cups)
2 med bell peppers (2 cups)
4 stalks celery (1 cup)
6 toes garlic
2 whole Gumbo crabs, break in 4 pieces
2 diced tomatoes or 1 can diced tomatoes
Shrimp or seafood stock 3 quarts
Oil less roux (see below)
Shrimp 2-3 lbs, peeled and marinated in hot sauce and your favorite Creole seasoning.
Crab claw meat
3 tbl fresh Parsley
3 stalks Green onion, diced
Salt and pepper to taste.

Put oil in pot. When it’s heated move around until the bottom is coated. Put in the onion, bell pepper, celery. Cook till the trinity starts to caramelize, add gumbo crabs and cook until trinity is browned. Add diced tomatoes and garlic. Cook about 1 minute. Add stock and bring to a boil. Whisk in the dry roux and simmer for 45-60 minutes with lid on. Add the shrimp, crab claw meat, parsley and green onion. Salt and pepper to taste.Serve.

Oil less roux
Preheat oven to 375 ( Sometimes, I do this in my toaster oven)
Put in flour, I’ll make 2-3 cups at a time.
Bake, stirring every 7-10 minutes until desired darkness. At least 45 minutes.
Can keep in jar until needed.


Nita’s Healthy Cooking Story!

Check out Nita discussing her healthy cooking tips live on WWL-TV, channel 4, tomorrow at 8:00 A.M.!


Nita Duhe, owner of Crescent City Cooking School and Store in the Riverwalk Marketplace, remembers cooking with her grandfather as the foundation of all of her traditional cooking knowledge. “When I was young, people did not think about what they were eating, and [they] were not very health-conscious,” says Nita. “My grandfather used bacon grease or lard for his roux and lots of butter for étouffée, oyster soup and other traditional dishes.” It wasn’t until Nita left for college when she began to realize how much fat was in the Cajun and Creole diet. In college, she lost 15 pounds just from not eating her usual Southern-style home cooked meals. Among her college friends, Nita was known as “mom” because she took responsibility for making the daily meals. At that time, she began working on ways to cut the unhealthy elements from her grandfather’s recipe and substitute the fatty ingredients with healthier alternatives, all while keeping the spicy Louisiana flavor.

Today, Nita teaches her students her secrets for healthy Creole and Cajun cooking. She starts form the very first step- the roux. “Most Southern foods start off with a roux and the best way to slim it down is to cut the bacon grease, butter or lard and use grape seed oil or safflower oil instead,” Nita explains, “If you prefer using the unhealthy oils, just reduce the amount of oil used in your roux,” which Nita calls making a “light” roux. She also suggests browning the roux in the oven carefully, which requires no oil at all. “Whenever there is something unhealthy in a recipe, there is always a healthy alternative,” says Nita. Though there is no doubt that the fatty oils and grease give a dish an unbeatable taste, there are other ways to make it “light” than just using alternatives. Nita recommends putting the dish in the freezer after it is prepared, this will cause the fat to separate to the top layer of the food which can be removed before serving.

Another quick way to cut the calories is to replace fattier meats such as sausage, pork and ham, with leaner meats like turkey, fish and chicken. “I recommend purchasing Cajun seasoned chicken or turkey sausage as your replacement to pork sausage. It could seriously fool anyone because the flavor is all in the Cajun seasoning,” Nita confirms.

Nita loves to make a special vegetarian jambalaya, which is made with brown rice, beans and Portobello mushrooms. “If you really want meat in your jambalaya, again use turkey sausage or chicken breast,” she says. To get the smokey flavor back into the dish, Nita uses bacon hot sauce (sold at her store) which surprisingly has no bacon in it!

Some other tips include using brown rice instead of white processed rice, doing a recipe with ¼ the amount of butter or oil, or using a wrap instead of French bread for your po-boys, which maintain the flavor but cuts the processed bread from the diet. Nita also mentions that most people also do not know you can cook your barbeque shrimp with oil instead of butter, using about ¼ the suggested amount, and still maintain the flavor. Easy cooking methods like grilling shrimp instead of frying shrimp for po’boys can cut calories in half. When it comes to desserts, it can be very difficult to cut the sugar and butter from Southern desserts, so cut out the fat when you can (except for when you make pralines) and always eat with moderation.

Nita always recommends experimenting with recipes and consider creating a personal signature dish. For example, she has created the New Orleans Taco, which replaces the beef of a traditional taco with blackened catfish or shrimp and instead of black beans she uses red beans. You can garnish this with shredded cabbage, red onions and a little bit of remoulade sauce for added flavor.

According to Nita, anyone can still enjoy all their favorite Cajun and Creole recipes without all the unhealthy ingredients

For more information about Crescent City Cooking School go to or call 504-529-1600

Nita’s Healthy Recipes

Crawfish or Shrimp Etouffee 

1/4  c pecan oil
1/3 c flour

1 med onion
3 stalks celery
1 red bell pepper
2 green bell pepper
4 cloves of garlic

1  large or 2 medium tomatoes chopped or diced can tomatoes
2 tsp  worcestershire sauce
3-4 cups shrimp stock

2 stalks green onion chopped
4-5 tbl of parsley, chopped
1 tbl hot sauce of choice
2 tbl  plus 1 tbl creole seasoning of choice

Puree onions, celery, bell peppers and garlic in food processor. Put peeled crawfish or shrimp in bowl, marinate with hot sauce and 2 tbl creole seasoning.
Make the roux: On medium heat put pecan oil and flour in a cast iron pot. Stir constantly until it reaches a light medium brown.
Add the pureed holy trinity. Cook, caramelize, the trinity. Scape the bottom of the pot because it will stick to the bottom. Add 1 tbl creole seasoning Keep scraping. Cook down until the trinity glides along the bottom of the pot as whole.
 Add tomatoes and worcestershire sauce, stir until combined.
Add stock, stir, put top on and simmer 10-15 minutes.
Add parsley, green onions and crawfish or shrimp. Cook with top off 5 -10 minutes. Salt and season with creole seasoning to taste.
Serve over brown rice.


Light Tomato Basil Pasta

3 medium to large tomato
5  cloves garlic, if large cut in 1/2 or 1/4
2 tbl Olive oil
2 tbl basil chopped
2  tbl Italian seasoning
1 package cooked wheat pasta, salt water
Crushed red pepper

Cut tops off of tomatoes, stuff tomato sections with garlic.  Sprinkle top with olive oil. Put tomato on grill or in 350 degree oven.
Cook pasta according to directions. Put pasta in large bowl or back in pot.
Cook tomato until skin starts to split. Put tomatoes in bowl with pasta, upside down. Pull off skin, discard skin. Add Italian seasoning and basil. Cut up tomato and toss. If necessary add olive oil. Salt and crushed red pepper to taste.

Guiltless Bananas Foster

It’s 8 p.m., you’ve followed your diet all day, you even made it to the gym, yet that craving strikes again. We all know that feeling, the craving for the savory New Orleans classic, bananas foster. You’ve reluctantly sworn off all desserts to fulfill your summer diet, breaking up your always-loving relationship with bananas foster due to its high calorie intake. But now there’s a chance to rekindle your relationship– a low-fat, guilt-free bananas foster that won’t wreck all of your hard work!

I know it seems the idea of devouring this delectable dessert is too good to be true, but we promise this recipe will make you and your taste buds happy during swimsuit season! All you need is a banana, honey, cinnamon and a scoop of low-fat ice cream on the side for a wonderful dessert. It tastes so good that you’ll swear there’s butter and sugar in your creation!

Baked Bananas Foster (Gina’s Weight Watcher Recipes)

Servings: 1 – Calories: 143

  • 1 medium ripe banana, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 tsp honey
  • cinnamon
  • low-fat ice cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and cut banana in half. Arrange banana in an oven safe dish or on tinfoil. Sprinkle with cinnamon and honey. Cover and bake for 10 to 15 minutes depending on how soft you like them. Let it cool and serve with ice cream.

Bon appetit!