Fat Tuesday 2011, Hold the Fat

Emily Abbate

Fat Tuesday 2011Wahhooooo! It's Fat Tuesday! And you know what that means? Today is the day we have an excuse to stuff our faces with some of Mardi Gras' most delicious foods (and drinks). Sure, the party may be based on Bourbon Street, but that doesn't mean you can't bring the fun your way, right?

Wait, ermmm, you mean you don't want all 380 calories in a piece of king cake? Oh ... and you're not into 300+ calories in your first mixed drink? Well, OK. Fine. But just because you're trying to be health savvy doesn't mean you have to restrain from celebrating. Take a look at these Southern-style street foods made healthy for your own Mardi Gras celebration, without the guilt. Well that is, as long as you keep your clothes on ...

Blackened Shrimp Po' Boy: The po' boy is a Southern classic that is a lunchtime staple in New Orleans. The sandwich is essentially a sub made with seafood or meat, served on a baguette, with a kick. This version from Shape uses low fat mayo and minimal butter to achieve great flavors, with half the fat (and under 500 calories!).


  • 1 tablespoon Cajun blackened seasoning (for seafood)
  • 1 pound large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 4 (6-inch) whole wheat sub rolls
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon margarine, divided
  • 2 medium green or red bell peppers, sliced thin
  • 2 cloves minced garlic

Directions: 1. Begin by tossing the Cajun seasoning and shrimp in a bowl. Cover the shrimp with plastic wrap, and then put into the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.

2. Mix together the mustard, lime juice, and mayo -- then set aside.

3. Cut the subs in half and then remove the centers, leaving about a half inch at the bottoms. This is an easy trick to rid subs of excess, unnecessary calories without sacrificing taste!

4. Melt a tablespoon of margarine in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Then, add the shrimp and saute until cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove shrimp from skillet, and then saute the peppers in the remaining butter for 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and continue to warm until peppers are soft.

5. On the bottom of each roll, spread 2 teaspoons of mayo (some may want less). Then spoon the peppers evenly onto the rolls, and spoon the shrimp on top. Drizzle remaining mayo mixture over the shrimp, squish together your sandwich, and serve!


Fresh Grape Crush: Nothing screams Mardi Gras like the celebration's signature colors, green, gold, and purple. That's why this purple cocktail from Yumsugar is the perfect way to celebrate in style without ruining your diet.


  • 8 seedless red grapes
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 ounces grape juice
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 to 3 ounces soda water
  • Lemon slice (garnish)

Directions: 1. Muddle the grapes in a shaker or mixing glass. Then, add in ice, lemon juice, grape juice, and vodka.

2. Shake the mixture and strain over a lowball glass with additional ice. Top with soda water (to taste) and lemon slice.


Sausage Gumbo: There's nothing like the hearty taste of gumbo, especially when it's under 170 calories per serving. Make this delicious gumbo recipe from Eating Well for dinner tonight, and you'll be wishing it was Mardi Gras more often.


  • 12 ounces hot Italian turkey sausage
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 large diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 cups frozen okra, chopped
  • 3/4 cup instant brown rice
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped and trimmed (optional)

Directions: 1. In a Dutch oven, break up the sausage into small pieces and cook through over medium high heat, about 5 minutes. Transfer the sausage into a bowl lined with paper towel.

2. Add oil to the pan and place back on medium-high heat. Add onions and saute for 2 minutes, or until translucent. Add Cajun seasoning garlic and flour and stir until browns for about 1 to 2 minutes. Then, add the tomatoes, stir in the broth, cover, and bring to a boil.

3. Place the okra, rice, and sausage in the pan and return to a simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Sprinkle with scallions and serve.


Sazerac Cocktail: For under 200 calories, this recipe is the essence of New Orleans. An old-fashioned cocktail, the concoction is native to the area and often referred to as the oldest American cocktail. Personally, I think that calls for a toast (or three).


  • 2 ounces bourbon or dry whiskey
  • 3 to 4 dashes bitters
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons simple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon Pernod absinthe
  • 1 strip lemon peel

Directions: 1. Combine the whiskey, bitters, and syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Stir, don't shake! You don't want the drink to get frothy.

2. Coat a chilled old fashioned glass with the Pernod, and pour out excess. Then, pour the whiskey mixture into the glass.

3. Twist the lemon peel. This releases the oils. Add to the cocktail for garnish and added taste.


Will you be eating Mardi Gras classics to celebrate Fat Tuesday?

Image via Mark Ghistol/Flickr

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