My friend Heather and I have birthdays about a week apart, so we decided to have a celebratory birthday lunch last Wednesday at Patrick’s Bistreaux, a relatively new and oh-so-delicious Cajun restaurant in the Berry Hill neighborhood of Nashville.

Finding the healthiest menu options at any restaurant is one of my geeky nutrition hobbies and Cajun food with all it’s fried and saucy deliciousness presents a bit of a challenge. So, I turned to the American Heart Association for a few tips. Here’s what they had to say:

Cajun cuisine is spicy fare. Many Cajun dishes are high in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium or all three, but almost all of them can be made with more healthful ingredients.

Avoid fried seafood and hush puppies.
Blackened entrees are usually dipped in butter or oil, covered with spices and pan fried; ask the cook to use only a small amount of oil.
Ask for all sauces and gravies on the side.

Instead of fried crawfish or shrimp, try boiled crawfish or shrimp.
Instead of gumbo, étouffée and sauces made with roux, try Creole and jambalaya dishes.
Instead of fried seafood, try boiled or grilled seafood.
Instead of fried shrimp or oyster Po’ Boy sandwiches, try turkey or roast beef Po’ Boy sandwiches.
Instead of dirty rice (contains chicken gizzards, livers, butter, etc.), try white rice. (I recommend brown rice instead – AR).
Instead of red beans and rice with sausage, try red beans and rice without sausage.

Ultimately I went with grilled chicken with a side of jambalaya and took home some crawfish étouffée as a little splurge to enjoy later.

What are your favorite tips for eating Cajun food? Do you have a favorite dish?

Healthy Tips for Eating Cajun Food
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