The smell of worldly spices fills the air as Cajun creations are being cooked, which in the language of Cajun food, often means being deep-fried. Although many Cajun food dishes are loaded in trans fat, sodium, saturated fat and cholesterol, there are still ways to enjoy this taste of heaven without burdening your heart.
Don’t be shy to remove the salt and substitute for herbs. Cajun dishes are a grand mixture of spices and herbs and can be created with success, without the use of salt. Instead of salt, use sassafras, thyme, bay leaves and cayenne pepper and an abundance of ground black pepper. All of these spices are strong and will normally eliminate the need for salt. For additional flavor, take on the traditional Holy Trinity seasoning which consists primarily of celery, sweet bell peppers and onion. This can be added to any Cajun dish, again, eliminating the need for salt.
Although most Cajun meats are lean, it’s the method of cooking that stresses the heart. Infamous Blackened steak and chicken may taste heavenly but are coated in a solid fat, smothered in spices and then seared to seal the flavor. This same level of flavor can be achieved by using a non-stick spray instead of a solid fat.
If Cajun jambalaya is a favorite dish, replace the fatty pork sausage with a healthy lean turkey sausage instead. When cooking fish such as crawfish or shrimp, boil them instead of frying or deep-frying as a way to cut out the fat. These types of fish can also be grilled on the barbeque, cooked on skewers, or baked in a crispy coating of rice cereal and homemade Cajun seasoning.
More tips to healthy Cajun cuisine, avoid fried hushpuppies and seafood and blackened entrees that are dipped in oil or butter. If eating out, ask for sauces on the side. Replace fried or deep-fried fish with boiled, grilled or baked. Opt for white rice instead of traditional Dirty Rice that is made with fatty chicken gizzards, liver and butter. Remove the sausage from bean and rice dishes and check into having food specialty places such as World Gardens Café to cook delicious and heart-healthy Cajun dishes for you whenever you want them!
Photo courtesy of See Panama Beach