Getting Creative with Comfort Food: A Healthy Po Boy
Po boys are, perhaps, the most famous type of sandwich from New Orleans, closely competing with the muffuletta. A po boy is a sandwich made up of a protein, usually fried seafood, on French bread with lettuce, tomato, and sometimes pickles and mayonnaise or a spicy remoulade sauce. And, we think they’re delicious. There are few things as satisfying and well-seasoned, as a crunchy bite of po boy.
Po boys are, perhaps, the most famous type of sandwich from New Orleans, and, we love them.
The brilliance of the dish comes from its simplicity and flexibility. Almost any meat can be used in a po boy, from shrimp to fish to alligator. And they all taste amazing, even though they may expand your waistline if you enjoy them too often. Luckily, the flexibility of this classic allows us to make some healthy tweaks to it, without detracting from its taste!
Using a Healthier Protein
If you’re looking for ways to make po boys a bit healthier, first, check out the protein. While almost anything can go on French bread and make a po boy, the most universal protein to use is fried, jumbo shrimp. The crunch and savory flavor of the fried shrimp is satisfying and delicious, but also fatty. You can get this flavor and mouthfeel without the grease and oil that add a lot of the fat.
Oven frying the shrimp (or other fried food) is the most straightforward way to make a healthier po boy.
The most straightforward way to make a healthier po boy is to cook the shrimp (or other fried food) by oven frying or baking it. This calorie-saving method is similar to the one we use in our article on making healthier chicken parmesan! You can further cut calories and fat by getting rid of the breading and sticking with just the shrimp (or meat). In these instances, broiling or grilling are simple, quick, and healthy ways to cook the protein.
If you grill shrimp, we suggest using grill skewers to keep the shrimp together. In both cases, you’ll want to toss the thawed shrimp in seasonings and a little oil. In this recipe, we’ll be sticking with the oven-fried option to keep it a little more traditional, but it’s worth remembering that you can make the dish even healthier.
Rethinking the Remoulade
Remoulade sauce is another ingredient that helps set po boys apart from other fried sandwiches. It’s a spicy, savory, and fatty sauce that is quintessentially Cajun. In other words, it comes from France, but really came into its own in Louisiana.
Using mayonnaise as a base, remoulade sauce pulls in flavors from lemon or pickle juice (or relish), hot sauce, horseradish, and mustard, among other ingredients. Obviously, looking at all those ingredients, you can tell it’s also a calorie-laden sauce. An easy way to lighten the calorie load of your po boy is by simply not using a remoulade sauce. You could also dress your po boys in just mayo or hot sauce, which could be a bit less fatty than a remoulade.
An easy way to lighten the calorie load of your po boy is by simply not using a remoulade sauce.
But, what if you don’t want to have a po boy without the remoulade? By being a little clever with your ingredients, you can mimic the flavor of a classic remoulade and cut the calorie count. For example, the prime ingredient in the sauce is usually mayo, but you can easily replace it with low-fat Greek yogurt. You can also replace some of the flavor by going with a stronger-flavored mustard like Dijon.
Medicareful Healthy Po Boy Recipe
Cajun Seasoning Mix
- 2 tbsp of paprika
- 1 tbsp of cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp of dried oregano
- 1 tbsp of dried thyme
- 2 tbsp of garlic powder
- 2 tbsp of salt
- 1 tbsp of black pepper
Lite Remoulade Recipe
- 1 ¼ cup of Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup of Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp of smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp of horseradish
- 1 tsp of lemon juice
- 2 tsp of hot sauce of your choice
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp of Cajun season mix
Po Boy Ingredients
- 6 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 cup of panko
- 1 cup of cornmeal
- 3 tbsp of Cajun seasoning
- 1 cup of whole grain flour
- 1 French bread or hoagie roll
- 3 egg whites
- ½ cup of shredded lettuce
- 3 slices of tomato
- Mix the ingredients for the Cajun seasoning mix in a small dish and set it aside.
- Mix the ingredients for the lite remoulade in a bowl and set it aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Cover a baking sheet with foil and place a baking rack on it.
- Add egg whites into a bowl and whisk in one tablespoon of the Cajun seasoning.
- In another bowl, mix two tablespoons of Cajun seasoning with the panko and ½ cup of cornmeal.
- In a fourth bowl, pour the remaining ½ cup of cornmeal.
- Dredge shrimp in the cornmeal.
- Dip the shrimp in the egg whites, lightly covering them.
- Cover the shrimp in the panko mixture.
- Place the breaded shrimp on the baking rack.
- Bake the shrimp in the oven for 15 minutes, then rotate the baking sheet and bake for an additional five to 10 minutes.
- Remove the shrimp from the oven and turn the oven to low broil.
- Toast the roll under broil for a minute or two. Watch the roll closely, because broiling can burn food fast!
- Remove the roll from the oven and add the tomato slices, shredded lettuce, and shrimp to the roll.
- Lightly drizzle remoulade sauce over top of the shrimp, lettuce, and tomatoes.