{ Healthy Mardi Gras Parade Packing Guide }

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“Healthy” and “Mardi Gras” are not often found in the same sentence. However, it CAN be done. The key is packing the appropriate snacks, hydration, and taking these few health tips when preparing to go to parades. Here is my best advice:

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Parades are LONG, people. It’s not just the parade itself, it’s the tailgating and walking you do hours before the parade even starts.

Tip 1: Comfortable walking shoes.

Tip 2: A rolling cooler.  Unless you are going to some awesome parade-watching spot that is roped off and serving food, you are providing your own food.  Once you get to your parade-watching spot, you won’t want to leave to go search for a food cart or food truck. You will need to hang onto your spot and your cooler is how you are going to eat and drink.

Tip 3: Plenty of water. It may weigh your cooler down at first, but hey, all the incentive to drink it faster! Just have a spot mapped out to use the restroom. People often pay a buck or two to use porta-potties, visit a friend’s house, use restaurants or shops when they allow it.

Tip 4: Plenty of healthy snacks. You want food that is going to keep your energy up so you can scream and shout and jump all parade long. Think portable things like, fruits, veggies, greek yogurts with plastic spoons, low sugar protein bars, and nuts. Having healthy snacks until your next solid meal will help you not walk into a restaurant completely ravenous and grabbing at the nearest beignet in sight.

Tip 5: Plan out your meals. If you know you are hitting a great restaurant on the way there or back from the parade, make it your “treat meal” of the week and enjoy yourself. Use the snacks to hold you over when necessary.

Tip 6: Obviously a huge part of the Mardi Gras culture is having a beverage here and there. Daiquiris are a HUGE must-have drink to take to parades. You can get a whole gallon from a drive-thru daquiri spot or food truck and keep it in your cooler or just get an XL cup and it should last you for awhile. These are not healthy whatsoever, so it would be a total treat. If you are looking for something lighter, stick to light beer or even wine on the parade route.  Nothing says a party like wine in a plastic cup. They make cute travel cups for that now.

These tips just breach the surface – stay tuned for more!

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About the Blogger:

Shannon Gagnon is the healthy recipe developer, food stylist and food photographer behind Crawfish & Crunches. She often shares health tips and southern recipes that she turns slightly healthier. On her blog you can find just what the tagline says, “Realistic recipes, rich southern culture, and health conscious habits.”

For inquiries about positioning your brand in front of Shannon’s followers click here.

For the long version about how the site was born, read more.

For information on Shannon’s social media management business, click here.

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{ Survival Guide to a Healthy Mardi Gras }

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Mardi Gras is in full swing in New Orleans, even though Fat Tuesday isn’t until February 9th! On January 6th we start Carnival Season, or  King Cake season, and the parties go on and on.  My husband and I joke that right when the rest of the country is busy getting healthy in January, New Orleans kick’s off a whole new celebration.  All of that is blast, but it can be tricky for someone trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle in the south.  Here are a few of my favorite tips to survive Carnival Season without gaining a king cake belly.

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Look forward to those king cakes. Yep, you heard me right. I am a huge advocate of the “treat meal.” My health coach sister-in-law helped me with a nutrition and exercise where you eat 90% clean 10 % “treats.” It requires five days of intense weight-lifting, two rest days, and one epic meal where you get to eat something you craved all week.  So, if you ate healthy all week long and on your plan, come Friday or Saturday it’s time for King Cake!

Plan your week around those parades. You would be surprised at how many stores and gyms shut down during the parades! I know my gym is closing before I’m done work on Friday, so I plan to use that as a rest day. If you are coming from out of town, instead of planning a whole weekend of feasting, set out your “treat meal” around that daquiri you want to hold on the parade route, or the restaurant you are looking forward to the most post-parade.

I know there are others out there who don’t enjoy the “plan everything out, all or nothing” mindset that I tend to have. Others come into New Orleans knowing their diets may suffer and they may plan to indulge throughout the weekend. That’s A-okay! My advice, whether you are a local or out-of-towner, is just to not overindulge. Set your goals according to YOU. That may mean limiting yourself to a certain number of cocktails, or aiming to eat small portions of your favorite Louisiana cuisine.

Stay tuned for my next post on healthy items to pack on the parade route.

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About the Blogger:

Shannon Gagnon is the healthy recipe developer, food stylist and food photographer behind Crawfish & Crunches. She often shares health tips and southern recipes that she turns slightly healthier. On her blog you can find just what the tagline says, “Realistic recipes, rich southern culture, and health conscious habits.”

For inquiries about positioning your brand in front of Shannon’s followers click here.

For the long version about how the site was born, read more.

For information on Shannon’s social media management business, click here.

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{ 3 Healthy Southern Recipes to Make for Mardi Gras }

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The parades are rolling this weekend in New Orleans, Louisiana. Just because you aren’t in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, doesn’t mean you can’t have your own little celebration at home. With these healthy southern recipes full of cajun and creole flavor, you can turn on a little jazz music, throw on some beads and call it a party. A healthy party that is.

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HEALTHY GUMBO CRAWFISH AND CRUNCHES BLOG

{ Healthy Chicken and Sausage Gumbo Recipe }

You probably hear about gumbo all the time, but what you didn’t know, is that it’s not spicy and can be quite healthy if you use chicken  sausage and a coconut oil roux.

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“Clean” Dirty Rice Recipe

This recipe uses brown rice and ground turkey to replace chicken livers and gizzard juice y’all. Don’t worry, you won’t even miss it.

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{ No Guilt New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp }

You won’t need your barbecue pit for this healthy dinner recipe. New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp isn’t barbecued at all! But it does simmer in a sweet and smoky sauce.

 

 

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About the Blogger:

Shannon Gagnon is the healthy recipe developer, food stylist and food photographer behind Crawfish & Crunches. She often shares health tips and southern recipes that she turns slightly healthier. On her blog you can find just what the tagline says, “Realistic recipes, rich southern culture, and health conscious habits.”

For inquiries about positioning your brand in front of Shannon’s followers click here.

For the long version about how the site was born, read more.

For information on Shannon’s social media management business, click here.

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“Clean” Dirty Rice Recipe

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Dirty rice could be served as a side here in Louisiana, however, I have turned this into a one-pot healthy meal! By upping the protein content and adding veggies, this healthy dirty rice recipe can be served up all week long.  It may not have the traditional ingredients, like chicken giblets, gizzard juice, or sausage, but my southern hubs still loved it.

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For 4-5 servings:

4 cups cooked brown rice, chilled

1 pound ground turkey

1 Tablespoon garlic powder

1 Tablespoon onion powder

1 Tablespoon garlic salt

Salt and pepper to taste

Creole seasoning to taste (at the end)

1 bell pepper – chopped fine

1 onion – chopped fine

4 cloves garlic – minced

3 large celery stalks- chopped fine

1 Tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil

2 Tablespoons Worcestershire

4 large cabbage leaves from the head of a cabbage (optional)

1). In a large pan on medium heat, brown your ground turkey and break up into small pieces. Season with onion powder, garlic salt, pepper, garlic powder. Place in large mixing bowl with all juices.

2). In the same pan, in oil, lightly saute your bell pepper, onion, and celery. Add in a pinch of salt and pepper, about 1/8 teaspoon. After about five minutes, add in your garlic. Saute 1-2 more minutes, pour in large mixing bowl with your meat.

3).   Add in your brown rice to your mixing bowl. Add Worcestershire, mix all ingredients together.

4). If you want to wrap the dirty rice in cabbage leaves, lightly steam cabbage in a large pan over medium heat in about 1/8 Cup water. Close lid and cook about 4 minutes or until leaves are tender enough.

5). Place dirty rice mixture in cabbage leaves.  Garnish with creole seasoning (to taste).

 

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About the Blogger:

Shannon Gagnon is the healthy recipe developer, food stylist and food photographer behind Crawfish & Crunches. She often shares health tips and southern recipes that she turns slightly healthier. On her blog you can find just what the tagline says, “Realistic recipes, rich southern culture, and health conscious habits.”

For inquiries about positioning your brand in front of Shannon’s followers click here.

For the long version about how the site was born, read more.

For information on Shannon’s social media management business, click here.

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A Few of the Best New Orleans Restaurants

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The topic of the “Best New Orleans Restaurants” could be quite controversial here in “Nawlins.”  To avoid any arguments, I’m just posting what I’ve come to understand are the “must-try” foods, knowing I haven’t even breached the surface of all the great food there is to offer. I enjoy playing tour guide when family and friends come in to town, so some of these may be considered “touristy,” but this one’s for the tourists!

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When you go to New Orleans, you need to get some fresh char-broiled oysters. My favorite spot for these is Dragos. I love it so much that I wrote a whole blog on the Dragos experience. Even if you hate oysters, dipping bread in the heavenly buttery sauce that the oysters are nestled in is heavenly.

For some upscale New Orleans dishes and seafood, my favorite spot so far is GW Fins. This is perfect for a date night or a couples dinner. Maybe I’m sentimental because it was one of the first dates I went on with my now husband. All you need to know is – cheddar biscuits, and bread pudding for dessert.

Barbecue shrimp. A New Orleans dish that isn’t really barbecued at all. Guests have been known to lick, or drink, their plates to get every last bit of buttery sauces at Mr. B’s Bistro.

Fried chicken. Another big debate here in Louisiana. Who has the best? There are tons of great spots, but Dooky Chase’s is very famous, with tons of history behind it.

New Orleanian’s – What are your favorites? The list could go on forever.

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About the Blogger:

Shannon Gagnon is the healthy recipe developer, food stylist and food photographer behind Crawfish & Crunches. She often shares health tips and southern recipes that she turns slightly healthier. On her blog you can find just what the tagline says, “Realistic recipes, rich southern culture, and health conscious habits.”

For inquiries about positioning your brand in front of Shannon’s followers click here.

For the long version about how the site was born, read more.

For information on Shannon’s social media management business, click here.

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{ Healthy On-the-Go Breakfasts to Take to Work }

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Breakfasts should not be rushed, but they often are. Luckily, with these healthy recipes, you could eat breakfast walking out the door, or you could heat them up at work.  As a huge advocate of “meal-prep Sunday,” these could be made in advance and eaten all week long.

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{ Healthy Easy Breakfast Bowl Recipe }

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{ Healthy Breakfast Grits Recipe }

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{ Healthy Easy Breakfast On-the-Go: Egg Squares }

 

 

 

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About the Blogger:

Shannon Gagnon is the healthy recipe developer, food stylist and food photographer behind Crawfish & Crunches. She often shares health tips and southern recipes that she turns slightly healthier. On her blog you can find just what the tagline says, “Realistic recipes, rich southern culture, and health conscious habits.”

For inquiries about positioning your brand in front of Shannon’s followers click here.

For the long version about how the site was born, read more.

For information on Shannon’s social media management business, click here.

 

 

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{ Healthy Easy Breakfast Bowl Recipe }

Breakfast bowl blog photo

Smoothie bowls and acai bowls may be all the rage, but I like to make things a little more simple. A little more “real,” if you will. This breakfast bowl can be made ahead, taken on-the-go, or made into a parfait if you are feeling fancy. Regardless of where you take it or how you eat it, you can have a great morning knowing your breakfast is healthy and full of protein.

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For one serving:

1 Cup Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt

1 scoop vanilla whey protein

1 Tablespoon water (optional)

1/4 Cup blueberries or berries of choice

1/4 Cup Protein Bakery Breakfast Cookies or oatmeal, or granola of choice

1 Teaspoon coconut flakes (optional)

1 Teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

1 drizzle honey, or packet artificial sweetener of choice (optional)

  1. Mix your sweetener, yogurt, and protein powder in a bowl. If it looks too thick for you, add a tablespoon of water and stir more. Sprinkle cinnamon on top.
  2. Chop your breakfast cookies and sprinkle on top of yogurt mixture. These are my sneaky trick. They are not only delicious but they have protein in them! If you can’t order these fast enough, sprinkle on your oatmeal or granola.
  3. Layer on your blueberries. Top with a sprinkle of coconut flakes if you wish. Enjoy.

 

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About the Blogger:

Shannon Gagnon is the healthy recipe developer, food stylist and food photographer behind Crawfish & Crunches. She often shares health tips and southern recipes that she turns slightly healthier. On her blog you can find just what the tagline says, “Realistic recipes, rich southern culture, and health conscious habits.”

For inquiries about positioning your brand in front of Shannon’s followers click here.

For the long version about how the site was born, read more.

For information on Shannon’s social media management business, click here.

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5 Myths About Southern Food

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I often get asked the same questions about southern food. Is it spicy? Is everything fried? “I’ve heard of gumbo before.” Well I’m here to clear up a few things, and maybe even throw out a few healthy tips along the way. Of course, most of this research is Louisiana based, but may apply to other regions as well.

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Myth #1: Southern food is spicy.

Louisiana and New Orleans gets this a lot.  It is not spicy, it’s flavorful! Some people, or restaurants, serve food fairly mild and allow guests to season with extra creole or cajun seasoning to their liking. Gumbo is not spicy. Red beans and rice are not spicy. The only thing I have ever experienced as spicy is from a box of pre-made jambalaya. Rare occurrence.

Myth #2: Everything is fried.

Sure, there are restaurants where the okra is fried, the pork chops are fried, the fries are fried. However, I have never ran into a situation where I couldn’t find grilled fish on the menu or a fresh side salad. Fried isn’t the only option.

Myth #3 Fried chicken is a staple.

I don’t even know anybody who regularly fries their own chicken for themselves or their family.  In fact, I have only ever been to a get-together where the main entree (and fun) was frying big batches of fish, not chicken. Picking up fried chicken from the convenience stores, grocery store, or gas station is more common, and even then it’s considered a sinful treat!

Myth #4 Southerners drink sweet tea.

I can name one person who I know loves and drinks sweet tea regularly.  I can name one party in the last five years where sweet tea was served. Southerners drink sodas, iced tea, coffee, water, ya know, the regular stuff too. And in Louisiana – Drive Through Daiquiris.

Myth #5 The South is Known for It’s Barbecue

True! However, in recent years, the barbecue tradition has spread to all kinds of states. This Business Insider article of the Top 25 Barbecue Restaurants in America list stops in Chicago, Missouri, and even New York. I wouldn’t say barbecue is really a Louisiana thing, but when I headed up the coast a bit to Raleigh, North Carolina, I knew I had to get my hands on some.

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About the Blogger:

Shannon Gagnon is the healthy recipe developer, food stylist and food photographer behind Crawfish & Crunches. She often shares health tips and southern recipes that she turns slightly healthier. On her blog you can find just what the tagline says, “Realistic recipes, rich southern culture, and health conscious habits.”

For inquiries about positioning your brand in front of Shannon’s followers click here.

For the long version about how the site was born, read more.

For information on Shannon’s social media management business, click here.

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{ Healthy Creole Spinach Artichoke Chicken }

Creole spinach artichoke chicken crawfish and crunches blog

I’ve made this healthy chicken recipe about four times now. I make big batches and freeze some for lunches and easy dinners to heat up. It’s so darn good and tastes like spinach and artichoke dip, except it’s a completely healthy recipe! Of course I had to add a little southern creole twist, it just makes everything that much better.

Make sure to Pin more healthy southern recipes on Crawfish & Crunches Pinterest.

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For 3-4 servings:

3 spreadable Laughing Cow cheese wedges – Garlic & Herb is great, but try swiss if not

1/2 C frozen steamed spinach – or steam your own from a large bag of fresh spinach

1/2 C chopped canned artichokes

1 Teaspoon garlic powder

1 Tbs onion powder

1 Teaspoon garlic salt

1/8 Teaspoon pepper – or to taste

4 thin sliced chicken breasts – you can purchase them in the store this way

Creole seasoning to taste (at the end)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Warm and drain all liquid from your spinach by squeezing in paper towels. Place in mixing bowl
  3. Pat your artichokes dry, place in mixing bowl.
  4. Place cheese and all spices (except creole seasoning) in mixing bowl. Stir to combine
  5. While chicken breasts are in package, pound lightly with a meat mallet to thin even more. This saves time from placing them between two sheets of plastic wrap, but your choice.
  6. Spray a 8×8 casserole dish with non-stick spray. Lay out your chicken breasts and spread cheese mixture evenly on one side of the breasts. Roll up. Toothpick optional. If you have a container where they can fit snugly, they should stay rolled.
  7. Bake about 20 minutes uncovered. Do not overcook! It will dry the chicken out. Check with two knives on your biggest thickest chicken breast to make sure there is no pink.
  8. Serve and sprinkle on a tiny bit of creole seasoning on for an extra kick of flavor.

Notes: the photo shows them chopped in small wedges, but for serving for a family or yourself, no need to slice it all fancy!

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About the Blogger:

Shannon Gagnon is the healthy recipe developer, food stylist and food photographer behind Crawfish & Crunches. She often shares health tips and southern recipes that she turns slightly healthier. On her blog you can find just what the tagline says, “Realistic recipes, rich southern culture, and health conscious habits.”

For inquiries about positioning your brand in front of Shannon’s followers click here.

For the long version about how the site was born, read more.

For information on Shannon’s social media management business, click here.

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{ Healthy Breakfast Grits Recipe }

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From my Northerners, I often get asked, “Do you like grits?” “Do you eat them for breakfast?” “Do you have a grits recipe?” Well my answers are, I love grits. I do love them for breakfast, and I especially love shrimp and grits.

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The funny part is, when I’m making grits in a healthy way, I just use this big bag of Quick Cooking Grits.   I do not do anything fancy in order to keep things “clean.”  For those who want something more decadent, adding butter and cheese is quite delicious too.  Here is a few easy ways to eat them.

Note: It’s just silly to buy the individual packets, unless you are traveling. It’s so cheap to make a big batch from the bag and freeze in little containers or bags.

For a savory healthy easy breakfast, cook your grits according to package. I may top with an egg and some avocado, salt and pepper, sometimes some creole seasoning.

For the sweet version, I sometimes treat them like I would my oatmeal. When they are finished cooking (to package directions), for one individual serving of grits:

  • stir  in 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 1 Splenda packet optional
  • 2 Tablespoons Cinnamon or vanilla protein powder

 

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About the Blogger:

Shannon Gagnon is the healthy recipe developer, food stylist and food photographer behind Crawfish & Crunches. She often shares health tips and southern recipes that she turns slightly healthier. On her blog you can find just what the tagline says, “Realistic recipes, rich southern culture, and health conscious habits.”

For inquiries about positioning your brand in front of Shannon’s followers click here.

For the long version about how the site was born, read more.

For information on Shannon’s social media management business, click here.

 

 

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