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New Orleans — a city known for healthy livin’ and coming home leaner than how you left, right? Ha ha! Not. The Big Easy is known for being a city of unbridled indulgence, and dang if you can’t do some of the country’s finest eating and drinking there. But there’s no reason you need to leave a larger pant size.

New Orleans is a city with many facets, though many travelers might not realize they can indeed explore this Southern gem from a fresh and healthy perspective. Read on for where to eat and what to do for a balanced, fitness focused trip to New Orleans!

Healthy New Orleans

Healthy New Orleans

What To Do

A Kayak Tour

On one of my previous trips to New Orleans, my sister and I did the classic airboat swamp tour. While we did enjoy the experience, it involved a very long shuttle ride and then more time sitting on our tushes while a motor did the work of moving us around.

This trip, I was keen to power my own paddle. Enter Kayak-Iti-Yat, New Orlean’s original kayaking company. Run by New Orleans natives and enthusiasts Sara and Sonny, Kayak-Iti-Yat offers two and four hour options paddling the bayou that your arm muscles will thank you for, or, if you want to invite your legs to the party, a combo option that combines with a bike ride for the ultimate day of fitness travel.

Kayak-iti-Yat New Orleans

Kayak-iti-Yat New Orleans

Kayak-iti-Yat New Orleans

Kayak-iti-Yat New Orleans

Kayak-iti-Yat New Orleans

Kayak-iti-Yat New Orleans

As opposed to an hour long shuttle we took a ten minute Lyft to the launch site, and paddled through some of the city’s oldest and most unique neighborhoods. While this was a much more urban experience than most kayak tours I’ve taken on my travels — we passed highways, a juvenile detention center, and condo buildings — we took in an amazing amount of wildlife, from turtles to egrets to crazy looking muscovy ducks to one lone lurking alligator.

Kayak-iti-Yat New Orleans

Kayak-iti-Yat New Orleans

Kayak-iti-Yat New Orleans

Kayak-iti-Yat New Orleans

Kayak-iti-Yat New Orleans

Walking Tours

Never have a craved a Fitbit so much as our four days spent traipsing through New Orleans! From the Garden District to the French Quarter to the Central Business District, New Orleans is full of addictively walkable neighborhoods — despite the August heat, we couldn’t help ourselves from going just one more block, around just one more corner, and down just one last alley. While The French Quarter stretches only a mile wide, you could spend hours exploring it.

While we mostly wandered between activities or with our cameras leading the way, we did take one official walking tour of the Garden District with Welcome To New Orleans tour guide Sheila. Want to DIY? Download the Go NOLA app for five celebrity-guided, set-your-own pace walking tours of the city.

I love walking tours — such a great way to absorb some history, find hidden gems and burn a few calories without hitting the hotel gym (though I do have an affinity for hotel gyms as well). My feet and legs seriously ached from this low intensity cardio, and we got some stunning photos to boot.

Staying Healthy in New Orleans

Staying Healthy in New Orleans

Staying Healthy in New Orleans

Staying Healthy in New Orleans

Staying Healthy in New Orleans

Bounce Ya Brass

This summer I’ve been super into dance classes as my current favorite form of cardio. So I nearly fainted with excitement when I saw a Bounce Ya Brass dance class on our itinerary. A free community class that takes signature front line bounce moves and teaches them in a Zumba-like format? Sign me up!

Don’t worry about being uncoordinated or inexperienced — the moves itself were repetitive and simple and designed for all levels of fitness. I loved the infectious enthusiasm of our instructor — who shouted out “love you!” to the class whenever we got extra sassy — and getting a sweat on to the big brass bands that somehow make me nostalgic for New Orleans when I’m right there in the city. If you’re looking for something a little more advanced, check out Hip Hop Ya Brass, which seems to require slightly more skill. And yogis, don’t miss Stretch Ya Brass, which I strongly considered waking up before sunrise for! Check their calendar for other fun fitness focused events in the city like fun runs and more.

Bounce Ya Brass New Orleans

Bounce Ya Brass New Orleans

Bounce Ya Brass New Orleans

Where To Eat

The Daily Beet

Fitness fiends simply cannot leave New Orleans without a stop at The Daily Beet, located in the Central Business District. Salads, grain bowls, cold-pressed juices, avocado toast and acai bowls all grace the menu here. I loved that the staff greeted locals by name and knew their orders while I sat and ate breakfast here — I think I’d be one of them if I was a NOLA resident.

Owner Dylan Maisel is a fellow Upstate New York native whose parents ran a vegetarian restaurant, a tradition he’s now brought to his adopted city. While salmon is the only meat on the menu, carnivores are unlikely to even notice with all the goodness on the menu (not to mention craft beer and wine — this is New Orleans, after all.)

The Daily Beet, New Orleans

The Daily Beet, New Orleans

The Daily Beet, New Orleans

Willa Jean’s

Technically, the Daily Beet is the only completely health-focused restaurant I dined at during my time in New Orleans. While I could have happily eaten many more meals there, that probably wouldn’t have made for the most interesting blog post.

The reality is that a healthy trip to New Orleans will likely involve a little creativity and will power when it comes to menus at traditional restaurants. Though frankly, once the food arrived I rarely regretted my order! For example, at local darling Willa Jean’s I skipped the beautiful baked goods counter in favor of a greens-covered and egg-topped avocado toast.

Bonus! Both Willa Jean’s and The Daily Beet were within easy walking distance of our cute, affordable boutique hotel.

Willa Jeans New Orleans

Willa Jeans New Orleans

St. Roch Market

St. Roch Market might be my favorite undercover healthy eating spot in all of New Orleans. This hip dining hall is home to twelve fabulous and diverse vendors, meaning you can order something super clean on the sly regardless of what your dining companions are in the mood for (lucky for me, my girls Angie and Kristin and I are basically always on the same page.)

After much debate, I ordered from Good Bird, a protein packed choice — I went for The Hummingbird, a salad featuring rotisserie chicken, hummus, and cucumber on a bed of greens. Also tempting were JuiceNOLA, run by the same owner as The Daily Beet, and T2 Street Food, offering a beautiful looking asian kale salad.

St Roch Market New Orleans

St Roch Market New Orleans

Cochon Butcher

We sat down at Cochon Butcher after a long walk in the summer heat and I found myself struggling with the idea of ordering a heavy meaty sandwich, the Southern restaurant’s speciality. But even here, I found some surprisingly healthy options — a squash summer salad and the vegetable-based soup of the day, each of which helped make me feel guilt-free about putting a serious hurting on the mac-and-cheese we ordered for the table or the desserts we just couldn’t resist after cooling off in the AC. Um, it’s all about balance, right?

Cochon Butcher New Orleans

Cochon Butcher New Orleans

Cochon Butcher New Orleans

Parkway Bakery

And finally, back to that balance. Let’s call this my #keepingitreal entry, because this was actually not really a healthy order in the slightest, but I can’t have you all thinking I was a paragon of caloric virtue the whole trip, can I? Because sometimes, in New Orleans, one must order a meatball po-boy and split a banana pudding at an establishment famous for each.

Parkway Bakery, opened in 1911, is a local favorite yet manages to maintain an authentic, off-the-beaten track feel. For fish eaters, this is an excellent choice, as the restaurant maintains committed to using local fisherman and sustainably caught seafood from right in the gulf.

Parkway Bakery, New Orleans

Parkway Bakery, New Orleans

Parkway Bakery, New Orleans

Just to clarify, this post should not be interpreted as me giving myself a gold star for health and nutrition on my New Orleans trip. I indulged my face off, and you should too if that’s what you’re in the mood for. But since New Orleans isn’t exactly known for being a city with many options for the fitness-focused, I thought I’d take a whirl at sharing some ideas for how to stay balanced for those that are in the mood for that. 

Kayak-iti-Yat New Orleans

Here’s to one of my favorite cities in the world — however you choose to enjoy it!

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Fresh and Healthy New Orleans: Where to Eat and What to Do

Fresh and Healthy New Orleans: Where to Eat and What to Do

Fresh and Healthy New Orleans: Where to Eat and What to Do

 

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This post was written by me and brought to you by the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. As usual, I maintain full editorial control and as always all thoughts, opinions, and pisco prattlings are my own. 
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24 Comments...
  • Rachel M
    September 27 2017

    LOVE this! I think it’s totally possible and can be super fun to keep up with healthy habits while traveling! Awesome!
    Rachel M recently posted..GORUCK Constellation

    • Alex
      September 28 2017

      Indeed — everything in this post was a blast!

  • Angie Away
    September 27 2017

    I was feeling kinda frumpy about all the food we ate in NOLA, but this reminded me that we totally balanced our noshing with activities! WE ARE ATHLETES. That is all.
    Angie Away recently posted..Combatting Road Trip Queasiness

    • Alex
      September 28 2017

      Heck yes we are — and you have the GIFs to prove it!

  • Rick
    September 27 2017

    Healthy and New Orleans?
    I’ve never seen those words in one sentence.
    And health food with beer and wine served – OK that’s New Orleans!

    • Alex
      September 28 2017

      Ha! Right? Just a little reminder of where you are, no matter how healthy you’re being 😉

  • Arianwen
    September 28 2017

    Looks lovely, although I’m still not convinced by outdoor exercise classes. I embarrass myself enough at the gym!
    Arianwen recently posted..10 Reasons to Visit Western Norway

    • Alex
      September 28 2017

      Haha, but in situations like this, everyone is in the same boat! And luckily there weren’t too many passerbys, though it seems to be a popular spot for fitness classes, as we were one of three!

  • Mary B
    September 28 2017

    Girl, give yourself all the credit you deserve for making an effort to be healthy in one of the most delicious and indulgent cities in the world! Like you said, it’s all about balance, so don’t feel bad about that po’boy! It’s not a trip to NOLA without a visit to Parkway.

    • Alex
      September 28 2017

      Oh man, those meatballs were so darn good I didn’t regret them in the slightest! They were DIVINE.

  • Dominique
    September 28 2017

    I think I would love the combination of the swamp (without the exercise) & the city walk and food you describe in this post 🙂
    Dominique recently posted..Kuala Lumpur – A One Day Itinerary

    • Alex
      September 30 2017

      Ah, the food was so good! Even when leaning towards healthy… New Orleans is delicious no matter what!

  • Steph
    September 28 2017

    Worth considering and sound great but sadly I think I’ll be more on the indulgent end in New Orleans… I have no willpower!!

    Steph x
    Steph recently posted..REP LIFE SEASON 3: HOW TO BE A SUCCESSFUL HOLIDAY REP

    • Alex
      September 30 2017

      Haha, well there were MANY indulgent meals on this trip not included in this post 😉 Just showing the lesser known side!

  • Ijana Loss
    September 29 2017

    Great tips! Sometimes it’s really hard to stay healthy while on the road, but I really do try my best to. That kayak tour looks pretty cool, I’m actually intrigued by the fact that’s it’s more urban, cause that’s unique

    • Alex
      September 30 2017

      Definitely! I feel like kayak tours are everywhere these days and to be honest I can be a little bored with them (never another mangrove kayak tour, PLEASE!) But both that I’ve blogged about this week were so unique, I adored them!

  • Meghan
    September 30 2017

    Awesome, thanks for the post. And yes, it’s very easy to go overboard in NOLA. I’ll have to check some of these spots out the next time I’m there!

    • Alex
      October 3 2017

      It sure is! And in a lot of ways we went a little overboard on this trip too, haha. But hey, we gave balance a shot!

  • Evan Kristine
    October 4 2017

    I would like to try the food from St. Roch Market and eat their delicious foods! They look so mouth watering! And the Parkway Bakery also!
    Evan Kristine recently posted..Top Day Trips from Helsinki That Are Not More Than 2 Hours Away! (Finland)

    • Alex
      October 5 2017

      Both are good enough that I’d book a trip back to NOLA for 🙂

  • jsm
    October 9 2017

    awesome post .. keep it up

    • Alex
      October 9 2017

      Thanks 🙂 I’ll try to write more content like this!

  • Marni
    October 12 2017

    I hope you didn’t beat yourself up too much – it looks like you’re doing just fine. It’s best when everything is in moderation anyway, right? Bounce Ya Brass looks SO fun, and I’m definitely checking out The Daily Beet whenever I make it there. Great post!
    Marni recently posted..A Farewell Love Letter To Ottawa

    • Alex
      October 17 2017

      No beating up here 🙂 We definitely did New Orleans justice… by the end of the trip I think we were having dessert at every meal including breakfast, ha ha. But we did try to balance it out a bit!

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