We’re a big baseball family, and each year for the past 12 years, our summers have been consumed with baseball games and lots of traveling around the country. Seven years ago, one of my boys played in the 10-year old Cal Ripken World Series in Lafayette, Louisiana. Our entire family went to this once in a lifetime event and to this day, it is one of our fondest summer memories. Not only was the baseball great fun to watch, but we had terrific local host families who cooked real Cajun food for our team of boys and all their family members.
We were so fortunate to have our generous host families not only make noisemakers and cheer for our team, but to expose our palates to Cajun Seafood Gumbo. I remember hanging out with our host (who happened to own a local restaurant), watching as he made the gumbo, hoping to recreate this “delicacy” at home. At first, I have to say I was afraid our boys wouldn’t touch the stuff – if I tried serving crawfish here in Connecticut to these boys, I can guarantee you they would never have tried it.
Funny thing is that the baseball team absolutely loved it – shocker! Just goes to show that even kids that are used to eating pizza and chicken nuggets can open their palates to food that is completely outside their comfort zone. You just have to get them to try it.
Anyhow, to this day, my boys and hubby love gumbo, and I make it for special occasions. I make it only for special occasions because gumbo traditionally takes a while to make since the base is a roux that needs to cook for a very long time first. The other reason I don’t make it often is that the traditional recipe for roux uses loads of oil. Combine that with the rich seafood that goes into these Cajun dishes, and you probably have hit your caloric limit for the entire day in one bowl.
Enter, this Healthier Crawfish Crab Gumbo recipe I came up with as part of The Recipe ReDux’s “Most Memorable Vacation Meal” theme this month. The Recipe ReDux is a recipe challenge founded by registered dietitians, which focuses on taking delicious dishes, keeping them delicious, but making them better for you. Similar to my mindset, Dietitians Regan Jones, Serena Ball and Deanna Segrave-Daly founded the group on the belief that healthier eating should always taste delicious. Recipe ReDux aims to inspire the food lover in every healthy eater and inspire the healthy eater in every food lover.
When I learned what this month’s Recipe Redux challenge was, I took a poll around our house to find out what everyone’s most memorable vacation meal was – Seafood Gumbo was the top choice. So, I started doing a little research to figure out how to make this typically high-fat dish healthier, plus gluten-free.
I found a lighter recipe for Crawfish Gumbo that used an interesting technique to reduce the amount of oil used to make the roux. It called for baking the flour for 45 minutes to get a toasty flavor without the long cooking time on the stove, and also substantially reducing the amount of oil. To make this gumbo gluten-free, I used glutinous rice flour which I had seen in other recipes as a gluten-free thickener.
Another trick I used to lower the amount of fat and add body to the gumbo without the calories was to substitute some of Rocco Dispirito’s Onion Garlic Puree for half the roux. This puree adds tons of flavor and thickens the gumbo without the fat and calories. I’ve used this magic thickener when I made a dairy-free calzone filling last year, and it worked really well.
My boys and hubby absolutely loved this Crawfish and Crab Gumbo. Served with brown rice, I am proud to present this healthier (and gluten-free) version of gumbo. I think our Louisiana friends would approve. Although this gumbo still takes a little bit of time to make, I’m thrilled to have a healthier, gluten-free version that I can now make for my family.
As the first and only recipe challenge founded by registered dietitians, The Recipe ReDux aims to inspire the food lover in every healthy eater and inspire the healthy eater in every food lover. Thank you for visiting. We hope you enjoy!