Nina Compton, chef of Compere Lapin in New Orleans, is one of the most celebrated young chefs in America. She was awarded Best Chef: South in 2018’s James Beard Foundation Awards (the “Oscars” of the restaurant industry) and she was honored as Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chef: 2017. Some people may even remember her as runner up on Top Chef Season 11.
Compton’s New Orleans’ restaurant Compere Lapin was The Times Picayune’s first-ever Restaurant of the Year (2017) and serves up inventive and elevated Southern food with Caribbean and Creole influence. While Southern food has a reputation as fried, heavy, buttery and rich, it’s not always the case. “People have the misconception that all Southern food is fattening and greasy,” Nina said to Travelbinger back in 2017. “However, there are some amazing dishes in the south that are on the healthier side, without compromising the bold flavor this region is known for.” Below, Nina shared her favorite healthy foods you can order in the South, including her restaurant.
Here are 5 healthy Southern Foods, according to Nina Compton.
- Marinated Shrimp with Roasted Jalapeño Jus
“At Compere Lapin in New Orleans, one of our most popular dishes is the marinated shrimp with roasted jalapeño jus,” she says. “We use whole, head-on Louisiana shrimp, of course, and serve it with avocado and the jus—it’s light and flavorful with a bit of kick.” Shrimp, relatively low in calories, is also a great source of protein and loaded with zinc and omega-3 essential fatty acids.
- Smoked Speckled Trout
Fish in general is good for a diet, and speckled trout is among the healthiest to eat. “The south is known for smoking all sorts of meats, but you can still get that amazing smoky taste with a fish. Smoked speckled trout is one of my favorites. It’s healthy and packed with flavor.”
“Some people call it Court Bouillion, but in the south it’s often referred to as coubouillon. However you choose to spell it, this is a great Cajun stew, which usually uses catfish. It’s hearty in taste, but has healthy ingredients.” In general, coubouillon includes garlic and cayenne pepper (a fat burner), as well as vegetables like celery, green pepper and carrot, all of which are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Stews make a well rounded meal with a healthy mix of carbs, lean protein and veggies.
- Shrimp Etouffée
Shrimp Étouffée is a Louisiana favorite,” she says. “The combination of steamed rice, trinity (onion, celery and bell pepper), parsley, garlic and red pepper are slowly cooked together to produce a uniquely flavored dish that’s low in fat and high in flavor.”
- Pickled Eggs
Pickled eggs came to the US via Germany in the 18th century, and it’s since become a staple food in the south, ubiquitous in diners, country marts and restaurants. “You can never go wrong with pickled eggs,” she says. “Packed with protein, the traditional hardboiled egg gets a new twist and the vinegar used contains health benefits” like improving blood sugar levels and helping you absorb more nutrients.
New Orleans has reopened to tourists.
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