Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Recipe Makeover- Jambalaya

Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday and healthy do NOT belong in the same sentence. I mean the whole point of Mardi Gras is to indulge in all of the things about to be given up during the Lenten season.  However, we like to enjoy a little Mardi Gras celebration at our house (esp after 4 years in Mobile, AL) and our favorite part is the King Cake!  This year we decided on some Jambalaya.  If this was the only high fat food we would encounter for the week then it probably would not be a big deal but lets face it.  There will be Girl Scout cookies passed around the office, cupcakes at school for the next birthday ect..  We are far from perfect with this whole nutrition thing but if I can at least have healthy food in the home it is a step in the right direction.  That is where a recipe makeover comes in.

I found a nice looking Jambalaya recipe in this month's Bon Appetit Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya- you can find it at Epicurious.com.  Problem was the saturated fat.  An adult eating a 2000 calorie/day diet should not have more then 20 grams of saturated fats a day. Basically Saturated fats are the artery cloggers- they raise your cholesterol.  For kids their total dietary fat intake should be 25-30% of their diet- that is for all fats not just saturated.  So basically the whole family benefits from limiting saturated fat.  The original recipe has 50 grams of fat and 17 grams of saturated fat per serving!  That is an entire day of fat in one meal and we want to eat King Cake for dessert!  Imagine a restaurant now where the portion size is 2-3 servings- you are getting 2-3 days of saturated fat in one meal- that is why the American diet is such a problem.

So here goes the recipe makeover; 1. Decrease the sausage from 1 1/2 pounds to 3/4 pounds.  2. Decrease the amount of applewood bacon but don't eliminate it or substitute turkey bacon it won't get the smokey flavor you need for Jambalaya  3. Reduce chicken thighs (higher in saturated fats) and add some chicken breast (lean and low in saturated fats) 4. Add some shrimp 5. Change from white to brown rice 6. Eliminate cayenne pepper and use mild sausage so the kids will eat it (but can be made with cayenne and spicy sausage for those wanting an authentic version).

The makeover version is still not health food but look at the difference:
                           Original                                     Makeover
Total Fat             51 grams                                   20 grams
Saturated Fat    17 grams                                  6 grams
Sodium               2527 mg                                    1044mg
Calories              754                                            361

Here is the recipe- this is NOT quick and easy but worth the effort when you are craving some Cajun flavors.

Meredith's Chicken, Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya

6 oz applewood-smoked bacon, diced
3/4 lb mild sausages, quartered lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch cubes
1 lb chicken breasts
3 large skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch piece
1  large onions, chopped
1 large celery stalk, chopped
1 8-to 10-ounce red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 8-to 10-ounce green or yellow bell pepper, coarsely chopped
6 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried thyme
I love the colors seen while this dish sautes
1 Tbs chili powder
1/4 tsp (or more) cayenne pepper (optional)
1 can 28-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes and green chiles
2  cup chicken broth
1 pound shrimp (peeled and deveined), chopped into bite sized pieces
2 cup brown rice
8 green onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
Chopped fresh Italian parsley

1. Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 350°F. Cook bacon and sausage in very large pot over medium-high heat until brown but not yet crisp and sausage start to brown in spots, about 10 minutes. Add onions, celery, and bell peppers. Cook until vegetables begin to soften, stirring occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes. Mix in chicken. Cook until outside of chicken turns white, stirring often, 5 to 6 minutes. Mix in paprika, thyme, chili powder, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional). Cook 1 minute. Add diced tomatoes with chiles and broth; stir to blend well. Add more cayenne, if desired. Mix in rice.

2. Bring jambalaya to boil. Cover pot. Place in oven and bake until rice is tender and liquids are almost absorbed about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and add chopped shrimp. Leave covered about 10 minutes until remaining liquid absorbed and shrimp cooked thoroughly.  Sprinkle jambalaya with chopped parsley and serve.

Servings: 8-10

Cooking Times
Preparation Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes

Jamie *****
Meredith *****
Clay ****
Colin ***
Lexi ***

Jamie said he liked this version as much as any of the full fat versions he has tried- maybe better- "I don't like really greasy food"!

I don't think the modifications lost any of the rich flavor we love in Jambylaya!

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