Cajun Cuisine Offers Better Health Value for Kids

In an effort to temper down the spoonfuls of sodium and fat that describe most American school lunches, the National Food Service Management Institute is educating administrators and families about the way regional cooking, like Cajun cuisine, can improve the health of schoolchildren.

Through webinars, online cooking shows and a score of other free educational material, the NFSMI is taking lessons from celebrity chefs like Emeril Lagasse to get their message out. Lagasse, primarily a Cajun chef, coined the phrase “New New Orleans cooking” on the Food Network, and is known for using bold seasoning and spices that don’t rely on the sugar, salt or butter for which cafeteria food is known.

Chef Lagasse advocates fresh herbs like parsley, cayenne pepper, thyme and garlic. Cajun cuisine’s trio of staple ingredients, bell peppers, onions and celery, also helps pack recipes with flavor, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Recipes using fresh ingredients like these versus canned veggies and sodium-rich foods are far superior in health value.

The Department of Agriculture is joining the NFSMI to introduce simple yet healthy Cajun dishes into school cafeterias nationwide. They suggest recipes like Turkey and Sausage Gumbo, Baked Cajun Catfish with U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish, Okra with Tomatoes and Bread Pudding.

Experiment in your house with Cajun cuisine using a Cajun catfish recipe. Find other healthy recipes — and potential family favorites — at

Cajun Catfish with Honey Dijon Bacon Potato Salad

4 U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish fillets
1⁄2 cup fish breading
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
1.5 to 2 cups frying oil

Honey Dijon Bacon Potato Salad
5 cups baby Yukon gold potatoes, cooked and quartered
1 medium red onion, diced
1 1⁄2 cups celery, diced
1 cup bacon, cooked, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Creole mustard
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
Salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste

1.     Combine fish breading and Creole seasoning in shallow bowl. Coat catfish in breading, lightly shaking off any excess.

2.     Combine all potato salad ingredients and mix well. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and hot sauce. Cover and refrigerate.

3.     In large skillet, heat oil over high heat. Fry catfish until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Place on paper towel to drain.

4.     Serve immediately with Honey Dijon Bacon Potato Salad.

Cajun Cuisine Offers Better Health Value for Kids