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New, Healthier Mardi Gras Favorites

Tuesday, February 24 is Mardi Gras, which is the 24-hour food fest that ushers in the six weeks of Lent, the 40 days of abstinence leading up to holiday, Easter. Similar to Thanksgiving, this is one of those holidays that is dedicated to eating - a lot.

With a name that translates to “Fat Tuesday,” there is really not much hope for getting through the Mardi Gras’ festivities without loosening your belt a few notches. And since concocting a low-cal and low-fat version of the paczki might require a veritable culinary miracle from the heavens, we’ve drummed up some healthy Mardi Gras favorites from the Diets in Review kitchen.

Many Mardi Gras favorites have their roots in Creole cuisine, so it’s fitting that many of the holiday dishes are filled with seafood, a protein source that is allowed during Lent.

Fish is considered an excellent source of lean protein, as long as you prepare it using healthy ingredients. Here is a super recipe for Crunchy Oven Fried Fish – a low-fat take on a typically high-fat favorite. This recipe uses cornmeal and flour to create a crispy coating and it’s baked, not fried, which saves you oodles of calories and fat grams.

Part of the abstinence of Lent is refraining not just from meat, but for some Christians, from alcohol as well.  On this last day before 40 days of sobriety, you can mix up a batch of Oprah’s famous Pomegranate Martinis. And yes, the pomegranates in your cocktail do count towards getting in your share of disease-fighting antioxidants.

No Mardi Gras is complete with a cake. The traditional cake is the King Cake which is a ring-shaped pastry covered in sugary icing and decorated with colorful sprinkles. So rather than eating a hefty chunk of cake that offers little, if any, nutrition bonus points, whip up this Carrot Cake. Loaded with heart-healthy walnuts, fiber-rich raisins and Vitamin A-filled carrots, this decadent cake clocks in at only 173 calories per serving.

If you’re going full tilt for Mardi Gras, don’t forget the shiny beads and colorful masks to round out your Fat Tuesday celebration!

February 24th, 2009

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