New Orleans is full of sweet, savory, succulent and picante food options. The cuisine here is unlike any other and if you’re in town for business or pleasure you would be a fool to miss some of the best eats in town. That being said, after two or three days of indulging in too much butter, sugar, salt and Tabasco your body is likely going to start giving you subtle (or not so subtle) hints that things are going to be very bad if you don't eat something a bit lighter and healthier. Enter, Meals from the Heart Cafe. A fresh, healthy respite amidst all the naughty food that is NOLA. Started by Chef Marilyn Doucette, Meals from the Heart Cafe has a fantastic location is the Historic French Market. Saddle up to the counter and enjoy some fresh, local and healthy food made with tons of love.
The Sweat Social recently sat down with Chef Doucette, a New Orleans native to learn a little bit more about why she started Meals from the Heart Cafe and what the one-of-a-kind restaurant means to her.
Chef Doucette learned early on that healthy eating can do a body good. Following the example of her mother who was diagnosed with diabetes, Chef Doucette noticed the impact that healthy eating had on her mother. From there her curiosity grew and she began educating herself on nutrition. Soon she realized that food could be medicine. Pills and prescriptions weren’t necessary if the right food was going into your body. At Meals from the Heart, the mission is to provide people with low sodium and low sugar foods. Using extra virgin olive oil, organic vegetables, no trans fat and lots of love, Chef Doucette can whip up delicious food that caters to vegetarians and vegans. The Black Bean Burger is one of our absolute favorites as are the gluten free pancakes.
Chef Doucette maintains the integrity of her food and believes that access to clean food should be available for everyone. To her, food and cooking mean family, longevity, quality of life, enjoyment and connections. While many tourists have a psychological response to indulge when coming to New Orleans, Chef Doucette sees this changing over time. Younger people coming to the city are demanding healthy, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. Meals from the Heart Cafe provides just that but with some amazing NOLA flare!
We sat down and chatted with Marilyn Doucette, proprietor and the creative force behind Meals from the Heart Cafe.
The Sweat Social: How did you get your start in cooking and why did you start Meals from the Heart Cafe?
Chef Doucette: I grew up in era when restaurants weren’t the norm, everyone cooked at home and had home based meals. We grew up on food where we knew where it came from. Providing food to public came out of a need to participate in reducing obesity. The driving force was to move away from prescribed drugs and to use healthy foods as medicine.
The Sweat Social: What options are available for vegans, vegetarians and gluten free diets?
Chef Doucette: Plenty! We cook up a storm. Be sure to try the following:
· Black bean soup
· Black bean burger
· Portobello mushrooms with Caribbean rice, currants and raisins
· Vegan apple patty
· Lentil soup
· Gluten free pancakes
· Vegan crab cake (coming soon)
· Vegan gumbo (coming soon)
We are very strict about using the correct ingredients in the kitchen and avoiding cross contamination of ingredients to ensure no meats touch vegetables, and no gluten-based ingredients touch non-gluten ingredients.
The Sweat Social: What is your advice to travelers on staying healthy while visiting New Orleans?
Chef Doucette: When you come to NOLA there is a psychological response – you want the naughty food and drinks. When people come to Meals from the Heart Cafe, it’s because people need a break and want to detox. My advice is to plan out where you are going to eat and if you can’t, every restaurant has salads, just order a few of them to balance out the heavy stuff. Getting some exercise is always a good thing too.
Meals from the Heart Cafe is located in the French Market in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Be sure to pay them a visit the next time you are in the Big Easy!
Southern home cooking just got healthy. Enjoy!
THE SWEAT SOCIAL TEAM