Healthy snack hacks when you're stuck at work

There are few things in this world I love more than cooking, but when you're stuck at the office, whipping up a gourmet feast isn't always an option.  Since we're all looking to start off with a fresh slate in the new year, I wanted to share some of my favorite healthy "snack hacks" for the workplace.  With a few of these options in the break room fridge or your desk drawer, you may have an easier time avoiding the local fast food joint.


Butternut Squash- You can get it pre-cut and bagged at most grocery stores these days.  Throw some cubes in a bowl, or even a coffee mug, and pop plastic wrap or a plate on top.  Microwave for about 4 minutes and sprinkle with a salt and pepper.  It's healthy, filling and will make your nutritionist proud!

Pre-cut Fruit- There's nothing tastier than cold watermelon in the summer heat.  Whether it's summer, winter or fall, I love to stock up on pre-cut fruit for the office.  You'll pay a premium for the convenience, but shop around and it doesn't have to be outrageous.

Jimmy Dean Delights turkey sausage, egg white and cheese English muffin- I've tried a few different breakfast sandwiches and this is my favorite.  It's only 150 calories, protein rich and super satisfying. The downfall? They are high in sodium.

Trail Mix- This seems like a given, but I can't tell you how many times a bag of nuts or trail mix has saved me on a busy day when I just can't find time to eat.  I always keep some in my drawer.  If you find it hard to stop snacking, stores like Trader Joe's sell smaller pre-portioned packs.

Kicked up Oatmeal- A big container of Quaker Old Fashioned Oats will last a lifetime in your desk drawer and is such a better option than the little packets packed with sugar.  Many stores like Costco sell pre-portioned steel cut oats as well.  I always keep pecans and frozen blueberries on hand to amp up the nutrition.  You can add a drizzle of honey if you like it sweet.

Baby Carrots and Dip- Those little carrots aren't just for kids.  Grab a bag or chop up your own veggies at home and keep them nearby when you're working.  Instead of ranch, grab a container of hummus or make your favorite mayo-based dip with greek yogurt instead.

Something Sweet- We all need to indulge on occasion and there's nothing wrong with keeping dark chocolate at work.  If a little nibble can satisfy your sweet tooth, it may keep you from indulging in that big box of donuts your co-worker brings in.  Just remember, moderation is key!


NOLA Restaurant Renaissance

There's no question New Orleans has incredible Southern cuisine.  My charming little city boasts some of the finest dining and most talented chefs in this country.  Down here, we breed folks like Emeril Lagasse. I adore traditional Southern dining and the impeccable service, white linens and mounds of butter that go along with it.  However, New Orleans seems to be in the midst of a restaurant revolution.  In the shadow of landmarks like Galatoire's, Emeril's and Commander's Palace, a new breed of restaurants is popping up.  The Bywater neighborhood seems to be at the heart of this culinary renaissance with two eateries pairing international bites with craft cocktails and noisy, young crowds.  My personal favorite is Booty's Street Food (however I may be biased, because I adore owners Kevin and Nick).  Around the corner, Maurepas Foods is a close second.  Meanwhile, Mariza, which recently opened in the Bywater's Rice Mill Lofts, was named one of My New Orleans' best new restaurants.  I ate there this weekend and can confidently say their chocolate terrine with sea salt, olive oil and candied orange will change your life.

In the Warehouse district, another newcomer on the culinary scene is gaining loads of press.  Pêche Seafood Grill has become a hotspot for celebrity diners like John Goodman, looking to avoid the Hollywood eye.  Another unique addition to NOLA?  Mid City's meat-centric, contemporary Cajun restaurant, Toup's Meatery.  You guessed it.  Toup's specializes in charcuterie and so much delicious meat.  If you head Uptown, Dominique's on Magazine couples chef Dominique Macquet's French training, with influences from his globe-trotting adventures.  There's nary a heavy drape in sight, with the modern courtyard (and menu) featuring vertical herb gardens instead.

Speaking of revolutions, Restaurant R'evolution will outright blow your mind.  It may blow your entire paycheck as well, but Chefs John Folse and Rick Tramanto create a gourmet dining experience you won't soon forget.  Focusing on "culinary evolution," the chefs reinvent traditional Cajun and Creole cuisine.  Conde Nast Traveler named R'evolution one of the best new restaurants in the South and plenty of other publications agree.  Did I mention, they actually bring you a personal upholstered stool... for your purse!?!

There are few experiences in this world that rival Friday lunch at Galatoire's (Don't believe me?  Read this and this and this), but some of these new establishments are giving the old-timers a run for their money.  So, next time you're in NOLA, don't be afraid to step off the beaten path and try a few of our up and comers.  They just might surprise you.