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How to Eat Healthy at Jazz Fest

Don’t Even Try
There are times to indulge. And if you’re going to pick only a few times to really do that (Thanksgiving, Christmas, your birthday, any time you make a pizza from scratch with Nancy Shon) you have to save ample room in your belly for Jazz Fest in New Orleans. It would be blasphemous to not enjoy all the flavors of the fest.
And of course, there are some meal and music combinations that can’t be missed (yes daiquiris count as a meal at jazz fest). Feel free to include your own, or contemplate ones for next year’s fest! 

New Orleans Compilations, French Toast & Bloody Marys

A Bloody Mary made just the way you like it (you’d know, because you make them yourself!), Bananas Foster French Toast at Atchafalaya & some of Jazz Fest recurring artists 

Big Sam’s Funky Nation

New Funk

Gospel + Daiquiris
Tyronne Foster & the Arc Singers
New Orleans Jazz and Muffalettas
Key Lime Tart and Mardi Gras Indian Music 

Cajun and Strawberry Lemonade 
Music of Haiti and Alligator Pie

And finally…..Crawfish Monica and……Everything
Keith Frank & the Soileau Zydeco Band
The Decemberists!

So maybe not healthy, but definitely good for the soul.

More music and an attempt at a healthier Crawfish Monica recipe to come………
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Melissa - this is one of my favorite posts of yours! what fun colors, food, music, YOUR HAT! fucking love it on you shmabber blabber!

johnwilpers - Oh, I forgot to comment on the writing! I LOVE LOVE LOVE the headline and lede: "How to Eat Healthy at Jazz Fest!" "Don't even try!" Great.

And then the sentence — " It would be blasphemous to not enjoy all the flavors of the fest." — is great, too! Nice alliteration! And how often do you get to use the word "blasphemous!"?

Gina @ Skinnytaste - Fun blog, great colors! And now I want to go to New Orleans!!

johnwilpers - I am beyond jealous! Beyond words beyond jealous!

The food (and, yes, I understand that at Jazz Fest there is NO distinction between solid and liquid foods!) looks incredible (OK, so exactly what does Alligator pie taste like?). I would have to have had some of the catfish I saw for sale in one of your pictures. What's a muffaleta? And mom would have drooled over key lime tarts!

And what a crowd! And it was SUNNY? I didn't know that happened at Jazz Fest! I thought rain and mud and man-eating puddles were part of the culture!

The Decemberists were there?! Wow! Of course, I would have spent my time at the gospel, Haitian, Cajun, and old-fashioned New Orleans jazz tents myself.

Can't wait to see more. More importantly, can't wait to go myself! Maybe next year!

(By the way, your hat is awesome…mine just like it is still in the closet (where Carolyn won't find it and throw it away!!)

Can't wait for Jazz Fest 2012!

Key Ingredients – Sprouted Kitchen’s Sara Forte

Photo from Sprouted Kitchen

How would you describe your style of cooking?
I would like to consider myself whole foods focused. I cook with produce as the main event with a mediterannean style. Thats not to say there isn’t cheese, butter and cream every now and then, but in moderation, as long as it’s unprocessed, I think it’s ok.

What is your favorite healthy ingredient?
Oh, can’t pick one!!! Probably meyer lemons if I had to choose – I think lemon makes everything bright and tasty.

Photo from Sprouted Kitchen’s Meyer Lemon Curd Recipe

Cooking Blunders?
I have many. Most happen when I am trying to multi task and I forget something is in the oven. I burnt an entire batch of crostini while I was teaching a cooking class because I didn’t set a timer. It was the only loaf of bread I had and I was serving it with a dip, so that was interesting.

Best food/cooking advice you’ve ever gotten?
 I think I get conflicted on which audience I am trying to please sometimes, people who go for health over flavor or flavor over health. My husband told me from the very beginning, cook and blog how YOU cook and how YOU eat, if you are genuine, people will appreciate what you do regardless of their beliefs on eating and nutrition. 

My attempt at Sprouted Kitchen’s

Favorite Farmers’ Market
I’d say San Fran Ferry Building if I had a choice, but the good one driving distance to me is Irvine, CA 

Have you always tried to eat healthily, or was there something that inspired you to change your eating habits?
My mom is not a cook, so we didn’t eat healthy growing up. When I went to college and started cooking for myself, and started working on the organic farm on campus, an entire world opened up to me. I was curious about all these seasonal ingredients and figured out how to use them practically. That is what I would consider my pivotal moment, working on that farm and seeing food cultivate.

Advice for cooking/food bloggers? Favorite blogs or sites?

There are SO many food blogs now, that it is pretty much impossible to find a niche that hasnt been tapped. Pick what works for you (baking, healthy, gluten free, quick meals etc.) and stay consistent. The aesthetics of your site matter, so keep it clean and if its something you want to pursue long term, consider paying a designer to help you make it nice.

I have lots of favorites! Of course Heidi of 101cookbooks, Scandi Foodie, Not WIthout Salt, The Year in Food, Smiten Kitchen among many others. 

My attempt at Hugh’s

Advice for someone just beginning an effort to try and eat healthy?
 It is pricey to fully go organic, but if you do some research on the dirty dozen, you can make a priority for certain types of fruits and vegetables to be organic, and some that may not matter as much. Visit a farmers market to realize whats seasonal and use your nose! The good picks smell fragrant. Pick up a few cookbooks or follow a few blogs that focus on healthy eating and use those as a guide for you to be creative. It’s a small step, but having a small herb garden helps too. Remember it’s little changes here and there that help, and before you know it, swapping quinoa for pasta isn’t such a big deal:) 

Soundtrack to your kitchen?
I usually play Pandora from my laptop with stations for Adele or Ray La Montangue:)

Ray La Montangue

Hold You In My Arms
Thanks so much Sara! 
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johnwilpers - Wow! I can't believe you interviewed Sara!

Sprouted Kitchen is not only one of my favorite food blogs but it is also one that we at The Christian Science Monitor identified as one of the very best food blogs in the world! Here's what our researcher had to say about Sara:

"“Sprouted Kitchen” is one of the most unique, eclectic, down-to-earth, gorgeously illustrated, health-conscious blogs we have ever read (and we’ve reviewed thousands!). Easily one of the most gorgeously photographed food blogs I have seen plus Sara's warm, welcoming writing style."

I loved the interview and all of Sara's advice and experiences, especially how her experience growing up mirrors that of so many people whose mothers were either not cooks or were just too busy to put much time into cooking. My mother, and I loved her tremendously, was fond of fish sticks out of the freeze, cheese dogs, spaghetti, meat loaf, and tuna melt all repeated on the same day of the week, week after week.

So, Sara, if you read this, I am delighted that my daughter found you and had a chance to chat (LOVE your choice of music while cooking, by the way!).

Great post!

— John

Gumbo on Sanibel Island

AEH’s first OWN recipe! From Michael Hayes – the man who introduced me to cajun cooking… and well I guess cooking in general for that matter. We had a fantastic week on Sanibel Island with Gigi, Peg, John and Naomi. This recipe got me even more excited for Jazz Fest this weekend!

1 cup flour
6 cups chicken broth
2 lb chicken (cubed)
1 lb andouille sausage (sliced)
1 cup onion (chopped)
1 cup celery (chopped)
1 cup bell pepper (chopped)
1 tbsp garlic (minced)
1 tbsp cajun seasoning
2 tbsp vegetable oil
The Roux
Brown the flour over medium heat over skillet until chocolate brown. Make sure to stir the flour almost constantly. Once the flour has browned, slowly add vegetable oil to the pan until you have a thick gooey paste (think a thick brownie batter). This is your roux!

Newbie Healthy Cooking Tip #1 – if you’ve never made a roux before and are nervous about burning it, be prepared to stand there, stir, and literally watch the flour brown for about 20 minutes. For a while, it will feel like this, but it may be worth it not to get distracted by the rest of the meal and have a successful first roux experience!

Meat and Vegetables
While the flour is browning (or after), you can brown the chicken and sausage in a dutch oven. Remove the sausage and chicken once browned and add the vegetables (onions, celery, pepper and garlic). Sweat until onions are translucent. Put the meat back into the dutch oven with the vegetables. Turn off heat. Add 1 cup of broth to the roux, stir to dissolve. Add dissolved roux to meat and vegetables. Add remaining broth and cajun seasoning. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer and cover. Let cook for 35 minutes.

Serve over steamed rice with this crazy good cornbread recipe (overlook the whole Paula Dean knee jerk response you might have just had, trust me it’s worth it).

It’s always good to have live music and appetizers while cooking! Thanks Peg and John for the great soundtrack all week! And thanks Gigi for the guac! 

It was a perfect end to another perfect day on Sanibel. Thanks for a great trip everyone! Next time, I’m not leaving. Ever. 
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carolyndcowen - Next time….I'll be there, too!! I'm hungry and want to eat this now. Where's the cook?

Abby - Thanks guys

Melissa - p.s. just discovered the music section of your site! ab, its awesome! you've got yourself like a legit blog! : )

Melissa - num num num!! you can tell even just from the light in the photos that you are someplace warmer than nyc haha. I am maddd impressed shmabigail gumbo! You should see if you can set your blog up so we can comment on each separate photo, cause i totally want to comment on each instead of one massive thing at the end haha. p.s. you look gorrrgeous cooking : ) and the i heart mh, you secret sap you!

johnwilpers - That looks positively scrumptious! Of course, by exposing the fact that you know how to cook the dish means that you will HAVE to cook it for us at Westport! And, yes, you made the week and the place sound irresistible! Next year!

How to make pizza, eat the whole thing, and have no photo evidence for your blog.

So no, pizza is not the most healthy food group in the world. BUT, there are healthier ways to make it. And as I’ve come to realize, making anything yourself is usually healthier than buying it from say a chain pizza restaurant that is only a block away, is on your way home from work, and is super cheap and smells good. So I decided to try and make some healthier pizza so as not to be tempted.

Some things seem to always go really well with cooking and eating: music, friends, wine, etc. Music and friends also go very well with cooking and blogging. Wine and etc, on the other hand, I discovered in fact pose great challenges to the cooking and blogging combination, as you will see.

Tipsy Cooking&Blogging Trouble # 1 – Your Memory

As far as what your memory can handle, it can come down to remembering to turn the oven off, OR remembering to take a picture of something. These decisions can be especially challenging when you are making something new, and fairly complicated, such as Rosemary Potato and Chicken Pizza. So in my pizza making adventure with Nancy Shon of Strictly Spandex, we chose to not destroy the food and kitchen by trying to pay attention to the cooking. As a result, we only have a couple of pictures of the process.
Nancy also showed me that a lot of these challenges can be seen on My Drunk Kitchen. Which also distracted us. So you’ll just have to trust me that A) we did make a pizza B) it was really good, and C) we legit ate the whole thing.

Tipsy Trouble # 2 – Motivation
Clean up. You just won’t.

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Nancy - hmm the previous comment reminds me of what happened at the end of the night… perhaps that should be included in the post!

johnwilpers - Holy (fill in the blank)! What a great (fill in the blank) post! You could do a whole series on taste buds and brain cells taking a vacation when under the influence, and are only (and unpleasantly) being resurrected the next morning when evidence presents itself as to what went down the gullet the night before.

My adventures in this realm usually involved finding one or more empty half-gallon containers of ice cream (or almost apparently empty as evidenced by the pool of gelatinous goo in which they sat), side by side with empty Pepperidge Farm cookie containers…. Ah, the good old days!

The Key Ingredients – Mom

How would you describe your style of cooking?
Hhhmm, let’s see. Prechildren, I went through two phases – one was sort of exploration and organic which ended in food as art. And then post children – in became what bag can I open to make an entire dinner. But wait . . what was your question? Style of cooking? Um, survival.
Favorite place to shop for food?
Any funky market with natural foods. I rarely get to do that. So Roche Brothers comes next.
Favorite meal of all time?
I just remember I’ve had two meals that I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.  One was paella in France.
France 1989 – the restaurant with Mom’s favorite paella!
 The other was Hunter stew in Brazil. I would die happy if I could have either of those two meals again in my lifetime. I probably won’t.

What is your favorite healthy ingredient?
Um, chocolate? Chocolate is the staff of life.

If you could grow some of your own produce, what would you grow?
Tomato, basil and scallions. In the summer time especially!

Cooking Blunders?
Any time I tried to cook anything interesting when you guys were children. It never worked. The first time as a new mom, you wanted a sandwhich and I was so excited to make your first sandwich! I made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich thinking it was the first of many that I would make for you. It was so meaningful. And you hated it. You hated them for the rest of your life.
Oh! I also tried to cook Thai food for Nana once.
Best place for recipes?
A combination of my old recipe box or just any cookbook with pretty pictures. Pretty pictures are important.


Favorite thing to cook?
Probably soups and chowders – and then FLAN which I never cook. And then anything with chocolate in it.

Ideal/Fantasy kitchen?
I loved the kitchen in Toad Hall down on Virgin Gorda. It was an indoor/outdoor kitchen. And any kind of campfire on the river.
Cataract River family trip – 1981 – Kitchen set up
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johnwilpers - What a great collection of Carolyn's thoughts with VINTAGE photos to go along with them. I can vouch for her soups and chowders skills! And I second her choice of favorite kitchens: Toad Hall was amazing! If you recall, that was the same kitchen/dining room where a cow wandered through at dinner time! And it wasn't in burger form, but on the hoof! And that photo of the kitchen set-up on the river is simply gorgeous! Tough to beat the view! You know whom you might try next? Jack would love to get a call from you to talk about cooking!! Can't wait for your next post! Your blog is now MY HOME PAGE!! Love you, Daddy