From treats like Bananas Foster and pralines to cocktails like the Sazerac and Hurricane, New Orleans is not particularly known for its health-conscious lifestyle. It's the city that invented some of the most indulgent and delicious food in the world, and to refuse to taste some of these dishes, whether it be a rich gumbo or those famous fluffy beignets, is a sin in the Crescent City. However, there are ways to remain resolute with your health goals in New Orleans while still getting a taste of New Orleans culture.
If your first concern is what you can eat that won't cost you extra gym time when you get home, stop by the Crescent City Farmer's Market. The Market operates in different locations around the city four days a week, and on Wednesday afternoons from 2-6 p.m. farmers take over the French Market, a historic open market that dates back 200 years, to bring fresh produce as well as prepared foods to the French Quarter. A second market takes place at the French Market on Saturdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
If you're looking for a classic New Orleans dining experience, don't despair! Eat Fit NOLA, an Ochsner Hospital Project, partners with local restaurants across the city to develop menu items that fit within healthy calorie, sodium, saturated fat and added sugar restrictions. Restaurants that participate in Eat Fit NOLA include the Commander's Palace, Tableau, Muriel's, Le Foret, SoBou, and many more. Just look for the "Ochsner Health System Approved" seal next to menu items!
Beyond classic restaurants, there are plenty of New Orleans dishes that aren't so indulgent. We eat red beans and rice on Mondays not only because of tradition but also because it's good for you! Raw oysters and boiled crawfish and shrimp are also good bets, with high protein content to keep you satiated.
If you're an avid runner and want to get a little more sweat out of your tour of New Orleans, take a Jogging Tour. The tour takes participants on a 10k jog through the French Quarter, local cemeteries and the Garden District and includes sights such as St. Louis Cathedral, the Mississippi River, Lafayette Cemetery Number One, celebrity homes and more.
For the cyclists out there, up and coming neighborhoods like the Bywater and Treme aren't far from reach with Free Wheelin' Bike Tours. Learn about the history of these neighborhoods as well as Storyville, Esplanade Avenue and Bayou St. John while enjoying the breeze on your face with the Creole and Crescent tour. If you still haven't had enough, rent a bike for the rest of the day and do a little exploring on your own.
You can also explore the Louisiana swamplands while getting your sweat on and learning about the impact of the wetlands on the preservation of Louisiana's coastline. Louisiana Lost Lands Environmental Tours takes kayakers across 40 miles of cypress forests, bayous and sprawling wetlands. By the end of the day, you'll have explored stunning scenery, worked those arms and shoulders and learned about the impact of Louisiana's wetlands on hurricane protection, quality of life and so much more.
If you're looking for a less intense kayaking option, check out Kayak-iti-yat. Their two-hour tour on Bayou St. John allows kayakers to explore neighborhoods, with architecture ranging from West Indies-style to Frank Lloyd Wright inspired homes.
Looking for some green space to warm up your limbs? New Orleans has you covered. New Orleans City Park is one of the largest urban parks in the country and is home to the world's largest stand of mature live oaks, with a grand oak nearly 800 years old. This 1,300-acre park offers 26 tennis courts, an 18-hole golf course, biking and jogging paths as well as a Botanical Garden. You can even take a gondola or paddleboat across a lake or stop in at the Besthoff Sculpture Garden, part of the New Orleans Museum of Art, for a leisurely stroll. If you don't have a bike with you, don't sweat it! You can rent a cruiser at the park.
If City Park isn't quite your style, try Audubon Park, a part of the Audubon Nature Institute and adjacent to the Audubon Zoo on Magazine Street. With a pool, stables, a jogging path, 10 tennis courts and the famous Audubon Park Golf Course, Audubon Park offers endless opportunities for recreation. If you dabble in bird-watching, make sure to check out Bird Island, which has been home to one of the most prominent rookeries in the region for a century.
Even if you're not actively seeking out physical activity, this city will have you moving. The easily navigable French Quarter is only 0.66 square miles, and New Orleans is one of the most walkable cities in the nation. So be resolute in your explorations and at ease with your health goals - New Orleans is what you make it!
Red Beans and Rice
Bayou St. John