If you know the right tricks, cooking can be a great way to gain control of your calorie consumption. Here in New Orleans we can make just about anything taste great, and healthy foods are no exception. Check out this list of calorie conscious swaps:
For three ounces of Andouille sausage you get a whopping 11 grams of fat. However,
the same three ounces of crawfish contain less than a single gram of fat. Many recipes come in both seafood and meat versions like gumbo, which can be made with crawfish or with Andouille. Skip the sausage and opt for the leaner shellfish!
Everyone loves a good condiment, but unfortunately not all condiments are made equal. Ketchup is high in sugar and mayonnaise is about 75% fat. Try Zatarain’s Creole Mustard (>1g fat per serving!) for a New Orleans recipe that’s been around since the late 1800’s.
“Slap YA Mama” seasoning can make just about any dish better, so why not use it to spice up an otherwise boring low fat/low calorie food? Use it as a rub on fish, a seasoning on cooked vegetables, or an extra kick in your broth-based soup. Seasonings are a wonderful alternative to high fat flavor-fillers like oil or butter.
Make a one-ingredient roux from flour and save yourself 2/3 of the calories of regular oil-based roux! Here is a recipe from Southern Cuisine Blog:
Ingredients: 2 cups all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Spread flour evenly across the bottom of a 15-inch cast iron skillet
Bake, stirring occasionally for approximately 1 hour
Make sure to stir well around the edges of the skillet so the flour does not scorch.
Cook Flour until the light or dark color is achieved depending on the purpose of the roux. The roux will become darker when liquid is added
When the desired color is reached, cool on a large cookie sheet, stirring occasionally
Store in a sealed jar for future use. 1 cup of oil-less roux will thicken 11/2 quarts of stock to a perfect gumbo consistency
I know what you’re thinking, how can Cajun and Creole food that tastes as rich and delicious in actually be healthy for you? Surprisingly, there are many healthy ingredients and spices that are staples for almost all Cajun and Creole dishes.
First off, onions are a delicious ingredient used in almost every dish. Don’t dismiss them to fight bad breath or watery eyes! Onions actually have been proven to fight diseases such as heart disease and cancer with their anti-inflammatory properties. Not only do they fight disease, onions also have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties that prevent colds and infections.
Next is the almighty power of tomatoes in Creole dishes. Tomatoes are great anti-oxidants since they are filled with Vitamins A and C that also neutralize free radicals in the blood stream. They are also known to help with diabetes and heart problems. Vitamin A in tomatoes will improve your vision and keep your hair strong and shiny, along with strengthening your teeth, skin and bones!
Lastly, don’t underestimate the greatness of peppers. All peppers are rich in vitamins A, C and K, but these properties are most prevalent in red peppers. These vitamins prevent cell damage and disease related to aging and support immune function. Cayenne peppers are the star in Cajun cooking, but the wonderful taste comes along with amazing health benefits with some of the highest amounts of vitamins and minerals. Both hot and sweet peppers contain substances that increase body heat production and oxygen consumption after eating them, which means your body is burning extra calories for weight loss!
So what are you waiting for, get rid of your vitamin supplements and jump start healthy eating with a Cajun and Creole diet full of vitamins and minerals! The bold tastes found in Cajun and Creole cooking are the exact ingredients that help fight against diseases, protect against illness, fight aging and promote weight loss (just don’t add all oil and butter that the recipes call for!). In your next meal, don’t forget to pile on extra tomatoes, peppers and onions!
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.
Although there is much speculation about the origin of jambalaya, the facts are unclear. The most commonly repeated folklore is that the word derives from the combination of the French word jambon meaning ham, the French article “à la” a contraction of “à la manière de” meaning “in the style of,” and “ya,” thought to be of West African origin meaning rice. Hence, the dish was named “jamb à la ya.”
However, ham is not the signature ingredient of the dish and there is no known African language in which “ya” means “rice.” Another source suggests that the word comes from the Spanish jamon (ham) + paella, a noted Spanish rice dish. Spanish speakers would call a ham rice dish, paella con jamon, not jamon paella. All we know for sure is the first records of Creole Jambalaya originate from the French Quarter in New Orleans. It was an attempt by the Spanish to make paella in the New World. Learn more about Cajun and Creole History here!
The strong French influence in New Orleans, and spices from the Caribbean changed this New World paella into a unique dish. But as Gumbo, two types of Jambalaya exist: Creole and Cajun!
Creole Jambalaya or “Red Jambalaya” is found primarily in and around New Orleans. Creole Jambalaya includes tomatoes in the recipe and specifically why the Cajuns refer to it as Red Jambalaya. Creole Jambalaya includes a variety of different ingredients including tomatoes, chicken, shrimp, The Holier than Thou Trinity (onion, green pepper, celery, garlic, green onion and, parsley), rice, creole spices and hot sauce.
Cajun Jambalaya originated in southern Louisiana by the Cajuns around the bayou. The Cajun Jambalaya includes a variety of meats such as tasso (a cajun dried pork or turkey), andouille (smoked pork sausage), chicken, or any wild game. They also include the Holy Trinity, rice, & cajun spices.
Let us know how you like your Jambalaya, Creole or Cajun style? Both are delicious right?!