Everywhere else, the New Year symbolizes a time of renewal and regeneration, often with a focus on getting our habits and schedules back on track after holiday indulgences.
In New Orleans, however, we’ve got Mardi Gras right on the heels of that New Year.
Carnival season gets underway each year on Jan. 6, which generally means the holiday season of rich drink and food continues. No sooner have we vowed to cut back on sugar and white carbs, then tempting king cakes pop up everywhere.
Indulging in a bit of our favorite king cake from time to time is fine, but if you crave the flavor all season long, here are six delicious, nutritious ways to satisfy that Carnival desire without derailing New Year goals.
Frozen Blended King Cake Sips: 3 options
PJ’s Coffee’s Skinny King Cake Protein Velvet Ice is Eat Fit-approved, with 230 calories, 21 grams of protein, and less than 3 grams of added sugar in a medium 20-ounce serving.
Not only does it help to satisfy a hankering for king cake, the Skinny King Cake Protein Velvet Ice also multi-tasks as a caffeine-boosted pick-me-up, a meal or snack on the go, pre-workout fueling or post-workout recovery.
Don’t have a PJ’s Coffee nearby? Make your own version at home with this DIY King Cake Protein Velvet Ice recipe, below.
And, if you’re looking for more of a smoothie than a blended coffee drink, you’ll love the King Cake Smoothie recipe below, as well. See the video of how to make it here.
Low-Sugar, Gluten-Free King Cake: 3 options
Ochsner’s Eat Fit NOLA is a program I founded that partners with restaurants to ensure that there are healthful dishes on New Orleans area menus.
One local king cake option is Eat Fit NOLA-approved: The Green Fork’s King Cake (GF, Low Sugar). Also, Girls Gone Vegan’s Eat Fit King Cake (GF, Vegan, Low Sugar) will make one for those who contact them by email.
You can also make your own single-serving version of Eat Fit-approved king cake with this King Cake in a Mug recipe, below.
This is quite possibly the easiest – and most nutritious – way to satisfy a king cake craving, immediately. Adapted from the GrassFed Mama blog this “king cake” tastes even better than it looks. And with 14 grams of protein and zero added sugar, it’s truly a guilt-free indulgence.
King Cake in a Mug – GF
Makes 1 serving
2 tablespoon coconut flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pinch salt
2 tablespoon almond milk
1 medium whole egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Swerve sweetener
1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup two percent plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1 teaspoon Swerve sweetener
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
Mix cake ingredients together, adding baking powder last. Pour into a large microwave-safe mug. Microwave for 1-1/2 minutes. (Time may vary depending on the power of your microwave.)
Combine icing ingredients stir until evenly blended. Spoon cream cheese icing on top of cake and enjoy.
Per serving: 230 calories, 9 grams fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 310 mg sodium, 28 grams carbohydrate, 7 grams fiber, 5 grams sugar (0 added sugar), 14 grams protein.
If you don’t have a PJ’s Coffee nearby, you can still enjoy a variation of their Skinny King Cake Protein Velvet Ice with this DIY recipe. Any vanilla protein powder will do, as long as it’s low in sugar.
King Cake Eat Fit Protein Velvet Ice
Makes 1 serving
3 ounces PJ’s Coffee King Cake blend – made as coffee concentrate (recipe below)
3 ounces unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 tablespoons sugar-free vanilla syrup or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 scoops vanilla or chocolate protein powder (e.g. Designer Whey Natural Protein Powder)
1 scoop ice
Blend first three ingredients, then add ice and blend until smooth and creamy.
To make King Cake coffee concentrate, grind PJ’s King Cake Blend coffee coarsely (you can do this at home or ask for it this way where you buy beans). Combine the grounds with water, then let it steep approximately 12 hours to create a strong, concentrated brew. Strain and use. Refrigerate unused coffee concentrate.
Per serving: 180 calories, 4 grams fat, 1.5 gram saturated fat, 190 mg sodium, 4 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 4 grams sugars (0 added sugar), 29 grams protein.
This King Cake Smoothie used to be a seasonal offering at the now-closed WELL Company, which was next door to the Earthsavers in Metairie. It was truly like sipping king cake through a straw, and lucky us, Earthsavers’ owners Karen Adjmi and Jackie Palumbo were happy to share the recipe.
King Cake Smoothie
Makes 1 serving
8 ounces unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup frozen mango
2 scoop Metagenics UltraMeal Vanilla Protein Powder (can also use 1 scoop Designer Whey Natural Vanilla protein powder)
1 tablespoon almond butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 ice cubes
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until completely mixed. Pour smoothie into a cup.
Per serving (with UltraMeal): 340 calories, 13 grams fat, 0 saturated fat, 370 mg sodium, 43 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fiber, 31 grams sugar, 19 grams protein.
Registered dietitian Molly Kimball offers brand-name products as a consumer guide; she does not solicit product samples nor is paid to recommend items. Molly Kimball is a registered dietitian in New Orleans. She can be reached at email@example.com. Comment and read more at NOLA.com/eat-drink. Follow her on Facebook: facebook.com/mollykimballrd, Instagram: instagram/mollykimballrdand Twitter: twitter.com/mollykimballrd.
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