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Monday, Feb. 12, 2018

Skinny Louisiana Dines Out

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Dietitian, cookbook author makes healthy convenient

Sometimes when you’re on a diet or you’re trying to follow a meal plan, one of the worst places to go eat at is a restaurant. You see your friends and family eating all this delicious food, but you know you have to follow what your dietitian planned out for you. Shelly Marie Redmond, culinary dietitian and founder of Skinny Louisiana, wants people to be able to eat out at local restaurants without worrying about counting calories. That’s why she started the program.

The program gives chefs from local restaurants several different options if they want to participate. One option is where Redmond works one-on-one with the restaurant’s culinary team to create Skinny Louisiana-approved menu items. These items are usually already on the menu; Redmond just readjusts the recipe to make it a healthier option.

“In a perfect world, folks would be at home eating all their meals and bringing their lunch … that’s not reality,” Redmond said. “Reality is that we have a business meeting to go to or functions with the kids’ school. A lot of the time that takes us to a restaurant.”

Redmond chose to work with local restaurants because she knows people in the area love to eat locally. She wanted to create menu items that were more than just a plain salad.

“I want folks to enjoy time with their family and friends,” she said. “I want them to be able to have choices available for them at a local restaurant. We wanted to keep the spirit of our city and our state in these restaurants.”

Skinny Louisiana Dines Out has already created menu items for several restaurants in the area. Redmond says Bistro Byronz was a fun restaurant to work with. Most people shy away from seafood restaurants when they’re on a diet, but Redmond disagrees.

“Seafood can be very healthy,” she said. “People run away from seafood restaurants in general because they think everything is going to be fried. Bistro Byronz has such a diverse menu. You can get it [their seafood] blackened — that’s healthy. You can get it grilled — that’s healthy.”

She said often all you have to do is limit the rice that is served with gumbo or Étouffée and you have a healthier dish.

“Sometimes with just a small change in the recipe you can change it from high-fat high-carb to low-fat low-carb, and it’ll taste amazing.”

Redmond has built her Skinny Louisiana brand on the basis of helping people eat healthier without making them sacrifice the Cajun foods they love to eat. Last year, she published her first cookbook titled, “Skinny Louisiana … in the Kitchen.” The book has been a hit and has five stars on Amazon. Redmond says she is already working on cookbook number two, which is about 75 percent complete.

“I try to test out eight to nine recipes a week. I constantly cook during my time off.”

When Redmond isn’t working on the cookbook, she is counseling clients on weight loss, diabetes and food allergies. She is a partner at Eberhardt Physical Therapy in Shreveport. Her clients average a four- to 10-pound weight loss in their first 21 days of working with her.

If she could give advice to those looking to have a healthier lifestyle, she would tell them three words: Keep it simple. Redmond says to stick to the simple basics when you’re trying to lose weight.

“We teach three combinations here that you should have in every meal which is water, fiber and protein.”

As for the fitness aspect of it, Redmond says to choose something you really enjoy doing.

“Find something you like because you’re not going to do it if you don’t like it,” Redmond said.

Every Friday at noon, you can see Redmond with her vibrant red hair cooking on Facebook Live for the Skinny Louisiana page. She says she just looks at the camera and talks like she is speaking to her best friend.

Moving forward she hopes to grow the Skinny Louisiana brand even more. Redmond’s next plan is to start approaching food companies to develop specific Louisiana recipes for their brands. She also wants to start a podcast after finishing the second cookbook.

“I’m very strategic about building this brand,” Redmond said. “The best stories I get from folks are when they come back and tell me they’ve created a dish on their own with what I’ve taught. That’s really what it’s all about.”

Redman is proud to announce that Skinny Louisiana is partnering with Riverview Restaurant and Brewhouse for 318 Restaurant Week. They will release a Skinny Louisiana menu there for the event that includes a drink, entrée and dessert. Redman is excited to see everyone enjoy the food.

“Cajuns are known for making people feel good,” she said. “We are a feel-good culture. It’s part of who I am. Nothing makes us feel better than someone loving our food.”

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