It�s almost Fat Tuesday, but you can celebrate in a low-fat way.

Mardi Gras (French for "fat Tuesday") is the day before Ash Wednesday, and an occasion for a New Orleans-style party.

Traditional Louisiana gumbos can be revamped into healthful meals full of disease-fighting ingredients. Special seasonings and cooking techniques eliminate the high levels of fat and calories while preserving the rich taste and smoky flavor.

Although not technically a gumbo, the classic New Orleans dish of red beans and rice is a close relative.

The following version calls for a small amount of meat and chicken stock, but eliminating the meat and using vegetable broth will make Red Bean Gumbo a meatless dish appropriate for Lenten meals.

Red Bean Gumbo

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Makes 8 servings.


  • 1 lb. dried red kidney beans (about 2 cups), picked over and rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 4 oz. chopped turkey ham
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. ground red pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tsp. salt, or to taste (optional)
  • 8 cups fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 cups hot cooked rice (see Note)
  • fil� powder, to accompany gumbo (optional)
  • a few drops of hot sauce, or to taste (optional)


  1. About one hour before preparing the gumbo: In large container or pot, cover beans with boiling hot water to at least 2 inches. Cover and let stand until beans have swelled to at least twice their size and have absorbed most of water, about 1 hour. Drain beans, discarding soaking liquid.
  2. In a large, heavy pot, heat oil until hot. Add onion and garlic and gently saut� until onion is translucent and garlic is soft, taking care they do not brown. Add celery and bell pepper and saut� 1 to 2 minutes more, stirring frequently. Add ham and lightly saut�.
  3. Mix in herbs, seasonings, broth and beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Partially cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, about 1 hour.
  4. Note: Although white rice is the traditional accompaniment, for extra nutrition, use brown rice.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
303 calories,
4 g. total fat (less than 1 g. saturated fat),
50 g. carbohydrate,
17 g. protein,
11 g. dietary fiber,
742 mg. sodium

Diabetic Exchanges: 3-1/2 Bread/Starch, 2 Medium-Fat Meat