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Staying Healthy on Mardi Gras

Today marks the beginning of Mardi Gras!

Also known as Fat Tuesday, this celebration is marked by over-indulgence and a tradition of “anything goes” when it comes to fun, festivity, and food. But there are many creative ways to stay on track when it comes to our personal health and well-being, while still keeping up with the fun and party atmosphere. Here are a few suggestions to stay health conscious without losing out on what Mardi Gras has to offer.

Overcompensating with a Crash Diet

One of the biggest mistakes that a person can make while gearing up for Mardi Gras, is adhering to the misconception that a “crash diet” or extreme fitness regimen. Like many who believe that starving themselves before Thanksgiving or Christmas will keep the pounds off, people who overcompensate with extreme diet and exercise can feel awful afterwards from such an unbalanced lifestyle — even a temporary one.

Instead, make a conscious effort to keep track of your calorie intake throughout the Mardi Gras season and allow yourself to enjoy all the festive, Carnival cuisine — in moderation! Smaller, more sensible portions of chocolate, cheese, King Cake and other seasonal treats are better than completely letting loose and suffering a crash after the party is over. With moderation as your key, you don’t miss out on eating what you love, but rather, keep a realistic goal of what you should be having. Additionally, trying to sneak in a few extra minutes to a well-balanced fitness routine will leave you feeling much, much less guilty about having had your Carnival fun!

Keeping the Snacking Healthy

There’s no way to get through Mardi Gras without joining in on all the junk food that is often associated with the festival. The trick to keeping fit and healthy while still enjoying yourself is to transform those snacks into healthier alternatives — without losing the flavors you love.

One staple of every party is potato chips. If you’re heading to a Mardi Gras festival, why not offer your friends and family a healthier version that’s even tastier? All you need is one large russet potato and some oil for baking. With a mandoline, carefully slice the potato in 1/10 inch slices. Next, put the potatoes in a large bowl of water and soak for 15 to 30 minutes then drain and pat completely dry. To bake your chips, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line two baking sheets with foil and lightly grease with cooking spray. Once the potato slices are completely dry, arrange them in a single layer on each sheet and brush them with oil. Bake the chips for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Let cool and then sprinkle your favorite Cajun spices and seasoning for a Carnival theme!

Mardi Gras Gumbo

You can’t celebrate Mardi Gras without the true staple of the festival’s Cajun cuisine! This year, try our favorite Gumbo recipe that’s sure to impress your fellow Fat Tuesday partiers, while keeping the ingredients their freshest and healthiest!

1 1/2 gallons water

1 (4-pound) chicken, cut up

5 bay leaves

5 parsley sprigs

3 whole garlic cloves

1 pound andouille or smoked sausage, diced

2 medium onions, chopped

1 large green bell pepper, chopped

1 large celery rib, chopped

3 tablespoons minced garlic

4 chicken bouillon cubes

1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon ground red pepper

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon filé powder

To start, use a large stockpot to bring the first 5 ingredients to a boil. Lower your heat, cover your pot, and allow your ingredients to simmer for about an hour. Remove the chicken to skin, bone, and chop — then set aside. Pour your broth through a strainer to catch and dispose of remaining solid parts. Measure out a gallon of broth and return to your pot. Add sausage and the next five ingredients and allow to simmer for an hour. Stir on occasion. Heat your oil over medium heat and begin to whisk in flour. After the flour has turned a darker caramel color, add to your sausage mixture. Allow this to simmer for an hour. Stir and simmer your chicken, peppers, and salt for another 45 minutes. Stir in your onions and parsley and allow to simmer for another 10 minutes. After removing from heat, stir in file powder and serve over cooked rice.  It takes a little work, but for a healthy Carnival, the effort is worth it!

Celebrate Mardi Gras with Hearn Kirkwood

Hearn Kirkwood is a privately held Food Service Distributor specializing in produce, meat, poultry, dairy, and fresh seafood. We purchase 90% of our fresh produce direct from California, Florida, Texas, etc. with the balance supplied by local markets. We are located within one mile of Route 295 and I95 providing us with easy access to Baltimore, Washington, and Virginia.

To contact Hearn Kirkwood, call 410.712.6000 (Baltimore), 301.621.2992 (Washington D.C.), or visit our website! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ as well.