Healthy Recipes for Your Mardi Gras Celebrations

New Orleans might be the hub for Mardi Gras parades and celebrations on Tuesday, March 8, but you can easily get into the spirit of  this holiday no matter where you are. Mardi Gras, also called Carnival in some countries, is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday in the Christian faith.

The kickoff of Mardi Gras is known as “Fat Tuesday,” which for some, might imply that it’s hard to celebrate without loosening your belt or spending some extra hours at the gym. Instead of overindulging, recreate some of your favorite Cajun and Louisiana recipes for Mardi Gras this year — but with a healthier twist.

Red Beans & Brown Rice: Even though this Creole dish was traditionally made on Mondays with Sunday’s leftover beans and rice, you could easily prepare this on Tuesday in celebration of Mardi Gras. Substitute brown rice for its less-nutritious white companion. With less than 300 calories per serving you can feel festive and indulge in a meal high in protein and fiber.

White Bean Butternut Squash Ragout with Polenta Squares: Creamy, cheesy grits might call your name during Mardi Gras but a satisfying and nutritious meal from the Whole Foods Diet Cookbook only takes 25 minutes to prepare. Top lower-fat polenta with healthy white beans and butternut squash.

Shrimp Jambalaya: Just because you’re watching your weight this year doesn’t mean you have to skip your favorite dishes. This shrimp jambalaya is full of flavor, without all the calories or fat.

Cajun Stuffed Peppers: Embrace Cajun flavors in this stuffed pepper dish that’s both rich and good for you. Skip the Andouille sausage, which usually packs a hefty punch of saturated fat, and enjoy rice and beans in this slimmer option.

Lower Fat Carrot Cake: No Mardi Gras is complete without a cake and usually, tradition dictates King Cake, a sugar-packed ring-shaped cake decorated in colorful icing. Instead, bake a healthier dessert in honor of the holiday, loaded with heart-healthy walnuts, fiber-rich raisins and vitamin A-filled carrots, with only 173 calories per serving.

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