To help you navigate all the tasty foods of this year's New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, we’ve put together some of the healthier (but just as delicious) options available at the Fairgrounds, along with the common dietary parameters within which they fit (e.g., gluten-free (GF), dairy-free (DF), vegan (V), low carb, low in animal-based saturated fat and low sodium).
In general, your best bets for festival dishes that won’t derail your diet are those centered around mostly lean proteins with some non-starchy vegetables. And for those “must-have” splurges at the Fest? Treat yourself—choose one or two of your favorites and share with a friend—then do your best to stick with the lighter dishes.
- Congo Square: Bennachin Restaurant
Poulet Fricasse (Chicken on a Stick): DF, low sat fat, low carb
Per serving: 180 calories, 4 grams total fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 grams carbohydrate, 0 fiber, 35 grams protein
Jama-Jama (Sauteéd Spinach): DF, V, low sat fat, low carb
Per serving: 115 calories, 4.5 grams total fat, 0.5 grams saturated fat, 10 grams carbohydrate, 6.5 grams fiber, 8 grams protein
- Grandstand: J & M Seafood
Freshly Shucked Oysters on the Half Shell: GF, DF, low sat fat
Per dozen: 200 calories, 6.5 grams total fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, 15 grams carbohydrate, 0 fiber, 20 grams protein. Note: Nutrition facts do not include crackers or cocktail sauce. Each 2-ounce side of cocktail sauce adds approximately 58 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrate.
- Heritage Square: Ba Mien Vietnamese Cuisine
Shrimp Bun (served over lettuce instead of vermicelli- just ask!): GF, DF, low sat fat, low carb
Per serving: 140 calories, 3.5 grams total fat, 0.5 gram saturated fat, 0 carbohydrate, 0 fiber, 27 grams protein
- Food Area I: Burks & Douglas
Vegetarian Red Beans & Rice: GF, DF, V, low sat fat
Per serving: 230 calories, 0.9 grams total fat, 0 saturated fat, 40 grams carbohydrate, 13 grams fiber, 15 grams protein. Note: Nutrition facts are for red beans only, served without white rice.
- Food Area II: Jamilia’s Café
Tunisian Salad: DF, V, low sat fat, low sodium
Per serving: 100 calories, 7 grams total fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 7 grams carbohydrate, 2.2 grams fiber, 1.5 grams protein
Please note that although we have provided the estimated nutrition facts for each of the dishes above, these are educated estimates. Many vendors are not willing to reveal their full recipes, so we analyzed the ingredients and portion sizes reported by the vendors using the USDA nutrient database. The sodium content is not included because the amounts of herbs, spices and salt-containing seasonings are often considered to be proprietary information.
Headed out to the fest? Check out top tips from Ochsner Health System for what to pack here.
Additionally, the food vendors provided the information about ingredients and preparation methods so be aware that there's always a risk of cross-contamination as well as human error in communicating recipe and preparation details.
Registered dietitian Molly Kimball offers brand-name products as a consumer guide; she does not solicit product samples nor is paid to recommend items. For more on this topic, check out Molly’s article on nola.com.