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Recipe Makeover: Bon Appetit’s Chicken & Sausage Gumbo

January 6, 2012
These swaps will boost the dish's nutritional value without sacrificing taste. (Photo by: PkingDesign)

By Lisa Roberts-Lehan

The official cuisine of Louisiana, Gumbo is a flavor-packed stew that combines the culinary traditions of several cultures: West African, French, Spanish, German and Choctaw. Our better-for-you makeover of Bon Appetit’s Chicken & Sausage Gumbo boosts the dish’s nutritional value without sacrificing taste. Cook up a steaming batch of this gumbo for a satisfying meal on a cold winter day.

Replace Kosher salt with mineral-rich and toxin-free Himalayan crystal salt or Real Salt from Utah. Both are pink-hued, unrefined salts harvested from ancient salt deposits.

Increase flavor and nutrients with pasture-raised, organic chicken without antibiotics or hormones from your local farmer’s market instead of chicken from conventional corporate feedlots; this is also a more sustainable choice that’s better for the environment. You can use the Eat Wild and Local Harvest websites to find local markets and producers in your area.

Swap conventional vegetable oil—made from genetically modified (GMO) crops—for organic extra-virgin olive oil. Mediterranean cultures have long known this legendary oil protects against cancer and keeps your heart strong, skin smooth and waistline slim.

Choose organic, grass-fed nitrate-free Andouille sausage in lieu of conventional varieties. (If you can’t find this in local stores, a Google search will turn up several places where you can order this kind of sausage online.)

Boost nutritional value by using organic spelt flour in lieu of all-purpose flour. Spelt is an ancient grain related to wheat with a nut-like flavor. Unlike other grains, even conventionally grown spelt is not commonly sprayed with pesticides or other synthetic chemicals. As an added bonus, those with wheat allergies often tolerate immune-strengthening spelt. To make a gluten-free version of this recipe, use sweet rice flour or brown rice flour.

Substitute antioxidant-rich organic red or orange peppers for green peppers.  Antioxidants like vitamin C help minimize harmful free-radicals caused by stress, which is  particularly beneficial during cold and flu season.

Add flavor and avoid additives by choosing organic, sodium-free chicken stock. Up for making your own? Here’s our recipe:

  • In a large pot, place 1 (3-lb) chicken, 2 carrots (peeled and chopped in a large dice), 2 stalks celery, 1 yellow onion (peeled and quartered), 1 bay leaf, 5 sprigs thyme, 5 sprigs fresh parsley and 1 teaspoon black peppercorns.
  • Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to a simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours, skimming the foam.
  • Strain the entire contents through a colander and discard the solids.

Replace regular hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce with organic sauces.  Your local farmer’s market and the Local Harvest website are both good resources for locating producers in your area. Wizard Organic Sauces and Annie’s Naturals offer organic sauces available nationwide.

Strengthen your immune system, rid yourself of the sniffles and add a little sunlight to this dish with organic dark leafy greens.  We suggest adding 1 to 2 cups of chopped lacinato kale or chard to the gumbo just before removing it from the heat.

Serve over nutrient-packed gluten-free whole grains like organic brown rice or quinoa.

Last but not least: enjoy! And be sure to let us know us know if you have a favorite dish you’d like us to give the Clean Plates makeover treatment.

Lisa Roberts-Lehan is a freelance writer, holistic chef, and nutritional consultant based in New York City. A graduate of the French Culinary Institute and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, she loves nothing more than being in the kitchen and developing new recipes.  Her work has been featured in Brad Lamm’s JUST 10 LBS, Erika Lenkert and Brook Alpert’s Healthy Nutritious Pregnancy, as well as AOL/Fox, Plum TV, SOBeFiT magazine and McFadden Performing Arts publications. 

Image by Flickr user PkingDesign.

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