How to eat healthy for Mardi Gras
Waterloo, ON—Mardi Gras is Tuesday February 5th! Carnival officially began in New Orleans on Twelfth Night, January 6th and continues until the midnight of Mardi Gras.
The name Mardi Gras, literally “Fat Tuesday,” comes from the tradition of slaughtering and feasting upon a fattened calf on the last day of Carnival. The day is also known as Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Tuesday. The custom of making pancakes comes from the need to use up fat, eggs and dairy before the fasting and abstinence of Lent begins.
While its roots are in overeating, it seems like we all just finished making our New Year’s resolutions. If yours was to eat more healthy foods, add some pizzazz to your healthy eating regimen by making a Mardi Gras dinner!
We’ve taken some Mardi Gras favourites and modified them to make them more healthy:
Blackened Catfish: This traditionally uses a half cup of butter. Try Bronzed Catfish, which uses only 1 teaspoon of butter and also uses heart-healthy olive oil and half the salt.
Gumbo: This is a pretty healthy dish to start with, but can be made using low-sodium chicken broth, and low or no-sodium canned tomatoes. You can double some of the vegetables for more nutritional punch.
Drinks: Instead of the traditional alcoholic drinks of Mardi Gras, old-fashioned iced tea is a perennial New Orleans favourite? You can adjust the amount of sugar depending on your taste (and your waist!)
Dessert: The traditional King Cake can contain a lot of butter! A lower fat alternative, Angel Food Cake or Cupcakes (still containing the baby of course!) has all the fun, with fewer calories!
2 tsp (10 mL) each paprika, dried oregano and thyme leaves
½ tsp (2 mL) each onion powder and garlic powder and salt (uses less salt)
¼ tsp (1 mL) black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
4 U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish fillets, 6 to 8 oz (180 to 250 g) each
2 tsp (10 mL) olive oil
1 tsp (5 mL) butter (Blackened Catfish can use up to ½ cup butter)
4 lemon wedges
In a small bowl, stir spices together until well mixed. Sprinkle both sides of fish with spice mixture, patting into fillets. There may be a bit of spice mixture left over.
Heat oil with butter, in a large non-stick frying pan, over medium-high heat. When it begins to bubble, add fillets. Cook, until fish flakes easily with a fork, 4 to 5 minutes a side.
Serve each fillet with a wedge of lemon for squeezing over top.
2 tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil
1 cup (250 mL) each chopped celery, chopped green pepper and chopped onion (you can double the celery and green pepper here)
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups (1 L) beef stock or canned broth (use low-sodium)
14-oz (398-mL) can tomatoes (use low or no-sodium)
10-oz (300 g) pkg frozen cut okra
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
½ tsp (2 mL) each dried thyme and oregano leaves and cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
4 U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish fillets, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces
Heat oil in a Dutch oven or a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add celery, green pepper, onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add beef stock, tomatoes, okra, salt, thyme, oregano, cayenne and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer stirring occasionally 30 minutes.
Add catfish pieces and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily tested with a fork. Discard bay leaf. Serve gumbo in large shallow pasta bowls over cooked rice.
Mardi Gras Lemon Glaze
Use this glaze for an angel food cake or cupcakes, for a fast and low-fat Mardi Gras dessert! Angel food cakes are easy to find in the grocery store.
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Droplets of purple, green and yellow food colouring
Place confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup; stir in lemon juice (glaze should be thick, yet pourable). Add more sugar or lemon juice, as necessary, to achieve desired consistency.
Divide the icing into three parts and mix in droplets of the food colouring until you have achieve the desired colour of each.