Did you know that on average you can gain up to one pound of weight between Thanksgiving and Christmas? In New Orleans, with carnival season rolling in fast with all its parties, parades and office King Cake, there are plenty of opportunities for more weight gain. A pound or more may not seem like a lot, but it can add up over the years. Below are some tips that may help prevent you from that trend.
If you’re heading to a party:
- Although you may be inclined to skip dinner before a party where you know there will be food, you shouldn’t let the party food be your meal. Eat a healthy meal ahead of the party so you won't be tempted to overeat.
- Keep your plates small. For alcoholic beverages watch out for mixing with regular soft drinks and tonic water as those are loaded with sugar.
- Graze carefully. Veggie trays are popular at parties, but keep in mind some cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower are very gassy and can make you feel bloated in your Mardi Gras outfit so you could avoid those.
If you’re doing the party planning:
Here are some good choices for nibbles and bites for your party guests.
- Raw Carrots
- Raw Squash and Zucchini
- Red Peppers
- Cherry Tomatoes
For the dip use hummus instead of high fat ranch dip and dips made with sour cream.
- Watch out for baked brie with a sweet topping – this is a high calorie item.
- If you have a cheese tray it is best to use block type cheeses such as cheddar/Baby Swiss or your favorite block of cheese.
- A tip is not to start with the cheese plate – have that on the side for bites and nibbles.
- Be careful with the number of crackers you include. Try fruit and nuts instead for a more well-balanced cheese plate.
Here in New Orleans we love our fried shrimp, mini muffulettas, stuffed mushrooms, and sausage which are all loaded with fat and salt. Instead of indulging in those items consider boiled shrimp with cocktail sauce, Italian style meatballs made with lean ground beef or pork, or grilled chicken on skewers with a light creole mustard sauce. You will be cutting out a lot of saturated fat and sodium with those switches.
There is nothing wrong with preparing gumbo or jambalaya for the party, but it's all about ingredients. Avoid high fat sausage and adding excessive salt to the dishes. Shrimp and okra gumbo or chicken gumbo with a healthier version of turkey sausage (now available without added hormones and antibiotics) are good choices. Adding other New Orleans type seasonings such as what we call the "trinity-onions/garlic/bell pepper" and fresh natural herbs will add flavor without salt.
Happy Mardi Gras!