Healthy Eats Around the City

Could The Big Easy become The Big Healthy?

It’s that time of year again, when New Orleanians make New Year’s resolutions about health, wellness and weight loss, then promptly break them when the first king cake appears. New Orleans has never been known as the healthy eating capital of the universe, but this may be the year that could change.

Since its founding in 2013, the grassroots nonprofit organization Eat Fit NOLA, operating under the umbrella of Ochsner Health System, has permeated the dining landscape of New Orleans, effecting real change in delicious ways. Eat Fit NOLA currently has more than 100 restaurant partners with 250 locations. Options range from fine dining at Commander’s Palace to Danny & Clyde’s gas station takeout.

At each participating restaurant, registered dietician Molly Kimball and her team of Eat Fit dietitians and ambassadors work with chefs, tweaking favorite menu items to focus on lean proteins, vegetables and whole grains while eliminating white carbs, added sugar and animal fats. By choosing Eat Fit options, diners can fully enjoy the experience while eliminating all of the guilt. Even cocktails are included in the mix. Look for the Eat Fit seal to easily make healthy choices when dining at participating restaurants.

There’s also an Eat Fit app, with chef videos, recipes, workout fitness info and grocery lists for use at participating grocery stores like Whole Foods and Simone’s Market, where shelf tags make it easy to select items for Eating Fit at home too.

The program has been so successful this year that the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation is supporting a statewide expansion, beginning with Eat Fit Baton Rouge and Eat Fit Acadiana.

Green To Go

Gia DiLeo of Green To Go has been an enthusiastic partner of Eat Fit NOLA since its inception. Virtually her entire menu qualifies under “Eat Fit” guidelines. In January 2012, DiLeo began Green To Go with nothing more than a bicycle and a desire to combine the idea of green eating with green delivery. Her tasty, freshly tossed salads caught on quickly and by September 2012, DiLeo opened her first café at the Jewish Community Center on St. Charles Avenue, expanding her rainbow salad concept to include juices, soups, wraps and baked goods.

In 2015, Green To Go opened a second location in the CBD at 400 Poydras Street, servicing the Downtown crowd’s desire for healthy options available at a grab-and-go speed. Due to construction at the JCC, Green To Go now continues to serve their Uptown customers at a new location in the Napoleon Medical Building. Recently, they were asked to open a third spot inside of the Federal Courthouse, just a block away from the first Downtown location, serving those too busy to leave the building for lunch.

SWEGS Kitchen

SWEGS Kitchen, another Eat Fit partner, strives to help their customers “Eat well and feel great.” SWEGS is an acronym for “Small Wins Equal Great Success.”

Founder Michael Maenza has a vision — to find easy ways for people to eat better by allowing natural flavors to shine through despite no added salt and sugar. The company’s offerings include choices that are gluten free, dairy free, low calorie, low sodium, heart healthy and vegan. Many of SWEGS’ meals are diabetic friendly and meet National Kidney Foundation guidelines.

Since opening its first location in Mandeville in 2015, SWEGS expanded to Mid-City and Veterans Highway, where guests can dine in or take out. Free home delivery is also an option, offered through

Customer favorites include BBQ shrimp with cauliflower grits and turkey meatballs with “zoodles,” zucchini and squash ribbons instead of traditional pasta.

Want to lose a few pounds in the New Year? SWEGS makes it easy with plans that include three meals plus two snacks totaling just 1,500 calories a day — and don’t worry, dinner even includes dessert!

This year let’s turn the Big Easy into the Big Healthy by feeling good and looking good with the help of Eat Fit NOLA and their enthusiastic dining partners.

A native New Orleanian, Poppy Tooker has spent her life devoted to the cultural essence that food brings to Louisiana, a topic she explores weekly on her NPR-affiliated radio show, Louisiana Eats! From farmers markets to the homes and restaurants where our culinary traditions are revered and renewed, Poppy lends the voice of an insider to interested readers everywhere.

Catch Poppy Tooker on her radio show, Louisiana Eats! Saturdays at 11 a.m. and Wednesdays at 1 p.m. on WWNO 89.9 FM.