POPSUGAR Celebrity

A Mardi Gras Menu That's Only Slightly Indulgent

Feb 9 2016 - 10:24am

It's called Fat Tuesday for a reason; Mardi Gras celebrations are known for being over-the-top indulgent, but if that's not your style, not to worry — you can still enjoy all the flavors of New Orleans without all the calories. In honor of Tuesday's celebration, we've put together a menu of healthier versions of classic New Orleans and Southern dishes.

Related: 10 Unhealthy Foods to Give Up For Lent — and the Calories You'll Save [1]

Vegan Jambalaya

Traditional jambalaya is packed with a variety of flavors, and this vegan jambalaya recipe [2] is no different. Throw in a variety of vegan meat alternatives into this slow-cooking meal for a celebratory main course that even your meat-craving friends will love.

Vegan King Cake

A king cake is a central part of any Mardi Gras festivity, but the pastry can be both hard to make and high in calories. This vegan king cake [3] not only cuts out the difficulty but removes the butter, cream, and eggs as well — instead opting for coconut milk and vegan margarine. The result? A healthier cake that's just as showstopping as the classic version.

Cajun Collard Chips

Kale chips are delicious, but these Cajun collard green chips [4] will get you in a New Orleans state of mind. Plus, they're so easy to make and are a great healthy option for Mardi Gras party snacks.

Vegetarian Beans and Rice

Red beans and rice is a New Orleans staple, but while the name sounds healthy enough, true red beans and rice uses bacon fat, sausage, and ham hock, which can make for a fat-filled bowl. Instead, try this Cuban-inspired vegetarian beans and rice recipe [5] for a filling but not heavy alternative.


If you're celebrating Mardi Gras with a drink or two for the festivities, then choose wisely; while New Orleans has its share of classic cocktails, many are filled to the brim with sugar and calories. Take the Hurricane, for example: a six-ounce serving is 250 calories [6], and most Hurricane glasses are 15 ounces — that's over 500 calories for one drink! Instead, opt for a sazerac; the four-ounce servings are small but are meant to be savored, not guzzled, and each sazerac is under 150 calories [7] and only includes a small amount of sugar.

Better-For-You Beignets

If you've ever been to New Orleans, you've probably had your fill of those addictive Cafe du Monde beignets at one point or another. For a slightly healthier alternative (they're still fried, after all!), make this vegan beignet recipe [8]. If fried food isn't for you, try this recipe for baked beignets [9] (pictured here).

Paleo Dirty Rice

If you've gone grain-free, this New Orleans-inspired dish will jazz up your next dinner. The cauliflower "rice" used in this Paleo dirty rice [10] recipe will soak up the other Cajun flavors for a satisfying, low-carb side.

Vegan Pralines

While these vegan pralines [11] aren't exactly a health food, they are a butter- and milk-free option for anyone looking to end an indulgent Mardi Gras menu on a sweet note.

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