2 Sep 2011
This past weekend 140 food bloggers converged upon New Orleans for the International Food Bloggers Conference. Held in a bustling section of the French Quarter, we got a chance to experience both the hospitality and distinctive culture that truly sets New Orleans apart from any other part of the world. Food is front and center in this foodie mecca. Amid the call-outs for fried shrimp po’boys to beignets dusted with powdered sugar, I decided to approach things differently and look for the opportunities to eat healthfully in a city where it’s easy to just “let the good times roll” or as they say en francais “laissez les bon temps roulez.”
- Hydrate. With New Orleans temperatures mid-day ranging between 90 and above, it was hot, hot, hot. Whether we sat inside listening to panelists give presentations on food photography or trolling the stores for antique treasures, drinking water was important. If you’re not used to drinking a lot of water, it can help clarify those grumbles from your stomach as thirst or actual hunger. And then there’s that chicory coffee or perhaps a late night out with friends- making sure your body drinks in the water to compensate for beverages that might dehydrate you is essential. So pack a stainless steel water bottle or request water as your beverage of choice at meals. Your skin and body will thank you.
- Go Fish. Located on the Gulf of Mexico, fresh fish is bountiful in New Orleans restaurants. So as you’re getting acquainted with the Creole environs, try puppy drum or flounder. Go for Gulf shrimp or oysters on the half-shell. Instead of ordering fried fish, ask for yours blackened or grilled. The love of spice and flavor in this city jazzes up healthful preparations.
- Walk. Then Walk some more. The tight corridors of the French Quarter are easy to traverse on foot. Sign up for a walking tour of historical houses and see the Spanish and French influence converge the architecture uniquely New Orleans. If you’re at a conference like I was, plan a walking break and get out to see the neighborhood with conference friends. That change of atmosphere and movement will keep the conversation going and your body happy.
- Eat your veggies. If you think about most of the foods indigenous and famously popular in New Orleans, it’s almost easy not to eat a trove of vegetables. I made a point to include salad in my meals. As a counterpoint to the humidity and heat outdoors, the salads refreshed with their cool and crisp textures. For me, this included organic greens on one day and a Brussels sprouts salad on another. Be intentional about eating vegetables in a town where there is so much exciting cultural cuisine going on.
- Diet by sharing. An old friend jokes around and says she likes to “diet by sharing” which basically means ordering something decadent and eating a small part of it. This not only helps with portion control but lets you try rich foods in moderation. So you want to order a Bananas Foster? Bring a friend. It’s mid-day and that muffuletta sure sounds good. Eat half. You’ll find your enjoyment of the food increases as you share it.
If you’re hydrating, eating your vegetables, going fish and sharing treats or decadent foods, you’ll find your New Orleans experience highly satisfying in a way that doesn’t pack on the pounds. And after walking and exploring the French Quarter, your love for this city will grow, making you want to return anew.
AnneliesCheck out my latest posts here