Can Fat Tuesday still include foods that help keep people fit? Absolutely, and these Mardi Gras food ideas will make the meal feel like the "Big Easy" tradition it has always been!
When it comes to Mardi Gras appetizers and Mardi Gras desserts, it is possible to stay healthy. This is even without sacrificing what makes the cuisine so special!
Read on for 15+ great ideas to take healthy Mardi Gras recipes from a feat to a "Big Easy" feast.
What Are Mardi Gras Dishes?
Mari Gras dishes are often enjoyed the day before Ash Wednesday. They are a happy marriage of comfort food and Cajun flavors.
Cajun and Creole cooking are influenced by Spanish and French cooking styles. This is evident in every dish, down to the Cajun and Creole seasonings and spices. Cayenne pepper, garlic, and salt are blended with a variety of other spices to symbolize the added inspiration of African and Caribbean cuisines also mixed in.
Mardi Gras Appetizers
From salmon cakes to no-fry fritters, stimulate the appetite with these delightful Mardi Gras appetizers!
Crab and crawfish cakes are popular dishes at Mardi Gras, but these flavorful baked salmon cakes take the cake in our book. They taste best with fresh fish, seasoned veggies, and flavorful herbs, which are all staples of New Orleans cuisine.
With the help of celery, onion, and bell peppers, this dish hits the trifecta when it comes to making Mardi Gras side dishes!
Cajun Cashew Cream Sauce
For a lovely, creamy sauce without all the milk, butter, and heavy cream, cashew cream sauce solves all the problems. Simply add homemade Cajun spices for a twist on the original and a burst of delicious flavor.
This sauce can be added to everything from soups to pasta and can be a base for cheese sauces and beyond.
Fritters, Tomatoes, and Okra (without All the Frying)
Healthy corn and zucchini fritters are a tasty way to hide an extra serving of veggies to a Mardi Gras spread.
Okra and tomato are staples of Creole and New Orleans cuisine. This Creole tomato okra stew combines these ingredients for big flavors and big nutrients!
Every Louisiana table is sure to be topped with a potato dish. Vegan potato salad is a great option for partiers with different preferences, and also contains no mayonnaise (which is typically made with eggs).
Making the mustard into a Cajun-spiced spread can turn the dish even more into a Cajun creation.
A Twist on the Classic Mac & Cheese
King Ranch Chicken Mac and Cheese actually has its origins in Tex-Mex cuisine. However, the combo of creamy, cheesy, chicken layered with peppers, onions, and tomatoes makes it a side dish worthy of any Mardi Gras party.
Mardi Gras Main Entrees
These Mardi Gras day entrees combine the desired elements of classic Southern cooking and nourishing recipes.
Gumbo is a classic Cajun dish, full of seasoning and flavor. Chicken, shrimp, and sausage gumbo combines all the great components of Cajun cooking. This recipe also features onion, celery, and bell peppers, contributing to the flavor profile and the nutrient levels of this dish.
Crawfish can be easily added to just about any gumbo or entree dish. Adding crawfish also adds healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids. These acids are proven to support heart health and lower inflammation.
Blackened salmon fillets get their taste from a mix of New Orleans seasonings, making this a feature dish for Mardi Gras. It is a seafood dish worthy of center stage and pairs well with red beans and rice.
Seafood & Rice Bites
Dishes like healthy parmesan shrimp risotto feature three things Louisianans love to add to their dishes: seafood, rice, and cheese. Combining creamy flavor and nutrient-rich ingredients, this protein-packed main dish is sure to be a hit.
Seafood Pasta Dishes
Like seafood and rice dishes, pasta and fish plates such as healthy shrimp pasta are sure to be a hit. Minced garlic mixed with peppers, onions, and cheese makes simple dishes a staple item for any Mardi Gras menu.
Mardi Gras Desserts
What is a Mardi Gras without a sweet treat to relish on? Find out how to make deliciously themed desserts, all without the worry of prep time and unwanted ingredients!
Inspired by Beignets & King Cake
Traditional beignets are covered in powdered sugar and deeply fried. A Mardi Gras king cake is also a classic dessert but tends to contain loads of food coloring, additives, and any number of sneaky ingredients. (Oh, and a plastic baby!)
Celebrate without worry by creating this cake for two, which is gluten-free and naturally-sweetened. And not to mention, it comes together in less than 5 minutes, unlike most king cake recipes!
Drinks with citrus and sweeteners often accompany Mardi Gras cuisine. Instead of a beverage, broil a honey-drizzled grapefruit for a sweet, ginger-spiced dessert dish.
The healthy after-dinner delight has a caramelized crust and tastes magnificent with many toppings.
What to Drink
These drinks are so delicious and invigorating, it will feel as if you are celebrating around the French Quarter!
A Classic with a Twist
This strawberry sangria is both refreshing and a reminder of the Spanish style influences on Cajun cuisine. It is got it all, including sweet, citrus, and tropical flavors.
Garnish with mint, and you have got a bubbly reminder of the colorful blend of cultures celebrated during Mardi Gras season.
While traditionally this drink has ties to the Kentucky Derby, mint juleps might be just the thing to cool down after dancing down the New Orleans streets. Sugar-free mint julep recipes are even better because they have fewer calories and more flavor per serving.
Water is not just a beverage back-up option, it can also be a centerpiece drink. Do not know where to start?
Try these ways to make water taste better. Not only are they nutritious, but they also add needed nutrients to keep the celebration going!
Greaves V. 7 classic Mardi Gras drinks to try (just not all at once). Allrecipes.com. Published June 29, 2020. https://www.allrecipes.com/gallery/mardi-gras-booze-drinks/.
McDonald JN. 30+ Classic Recipes for Mardi Gras. Southernliving.com. Published February 24, 2011. https://www.southernliving.com/food/holidays-occasions/new-orleans-mardi-gras-recipes?.
The beginner's guide to Cajun and Creole cuisine. Mccormick.com. https://www.mccormick.com/articles/mccormick/the-beginners-guide-to-cajun-and-creole-cuisines.