local + healthy New Orleans


“New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin.”

Mark Twain

New Orleans and a healthy lifestyle …does it seem like an oxymoron to you? As delicious as our food is, it’s often not associated with good health. Well, get ready to be surprised. It is possible to embrace the traditions of our city and still maintain a balanced life.

In this section of Yoga Lagniappe we’ll bring you local restaurants that offer health conscious cuisine (that tastes good!), as well as menu items from traditional restaurants that can be part of a balanced lifestyle. While the yoga tradition and its sister science Ayurveda promote a vegetarian based diet, not all of us have made that choice for our diet regime. Yoga Lagniappe is not here to make you feel guilty about your food choices, we simply want to offer you information that may open your mind and your “buddhabelly” to try something new. Bon appétit cher!

How to Go to the Far East in LessThan 30 Minutes

By S. Brooke Bailey

A recent trip to the Vietnamese farmer’s market, at the far eastern edge of New Orleans’ city limits, revealed an experience close to “Beam me up Scottie!” status. Aside from just a few others, including several men who sell live chickens, geese, rabbits and pigs at the market regularly, my friend Sharon and I were the only people there of non-Vietnamese descent. The sights and sounds literally made me feel transported to a land far from the banks of the Mississippi River, and it took me less than 30 minutes to get there.

Every Saturday morning the residents of Village de l’Est rise very early to mix and mingle at the local market. Located in the parking lot of a strip mall, it feels thousands of miles away from the Crescent City Farmer’s Markets I regularly attend.

The majority of vendors are older women, of the grandmotherly type, who squat to sit on low stools or the ground with a sheet or tarp spread across the asphalt parking lot. There are no fancy tents here, and there are only a few tables. Aside from being able to communicate the cost of their goods, many of these women don’t speak English. Which really isn’t a problem as their smiles and laughter need no translation. They sell everything from herbs and greens just cut from their gardens, to whole fish. There’s even a vendor who sells citrus trees along side traditional straw hats.

One of the delicious treats we tried was homemade tofu with ginger syrup. Apparently it’s a popular dish. We saw it for sale in several of the Vietnamese shops we visited after leaving the market. The vendor of this super fresh concoction told us that she woke up at 1am that morning in order to make the tofu. As she dished large spoonfuls of warm tofu from a huge pot into our cups, she explained that the soybeans had to be soaked first with the majority of cooking and settling time commencing in the wee hours of the morning.

Our chef appeared to be a second generation Vietnamese immigrant standing between an elderly woman who spoke no English, whom I assumed was her mother, and a young woman who spoke perfect English, whom I assumed was her daughter. The sight of three generations working together to make New Orleans their home away from home reminded me of the rich cultural heritage we have in this city. It’s much more than Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street, as we all know; but it’s also much more than the French and the Spanish when it comes to cultural influences.

Later in the morning we purchased fresh soy milk from this same family. They offered plain soy milk, as well as soy milk flavored with pandan leaves. The leaves turn the soy milk a soft green color (imagine a shamrock shake) and give it a delicious flavor.

After leaving the market we drove around the
neighborhood and discovered gardens all along the waterways.

What does going to this market have to do with yoga you might ask? When we think of yoga and wellness we might be tempted to think of the practice happening only on a yoga mat. However, the more we practice the more we learn that wellness encompasses much more than physical fitness. Eating fresh food that was picked the same morning not only enhances the flavor of a dish, but also connects us more closely to the cycles of nature. In the case of shopping at the Vietnamese market, we have an opportunity to connect with cultural, as well as fresh produce, in the present moment.

An adventure to the Vietnamese market is not for those who have to sleep in on a Saturday morning. Vendors are there by 6am and most of the action occurs around daybreak (7am this time of year). By 7:30am most of the vendors are down to their last few items. Arrive early for the full experience and the best selection.

If you want to get to the Far East in less than 30 minutes, set your GPS to 4800 Alcee Fortier Boulevard and your alarm clock for 5:30am. You won’t be disappointed.


Lunch and Lagniappe at Good Karma Prasad Café

By Betsy Goldin Becker

Since yoga and food are two of my favorite things, I have been eager to try Swan River Yoga’s Good Karma Prasad Café. My friend, Brooke, was also interested in checking it out, so she joined me there for lunch on a recent Saturday. After a couple of Endless Love Plates and a little lagniappe, I think we both left feeling quite satisfied.

The Good Karma Prasad Café is located at Swan River Yoga’s Mandir studio in Mid-city.  They are now serving catered lunch twice a week, with all proceeds going towards the current renovations of their kitchen and dining area.  Once the renovations are complete, they plan to offer a more expansive menu and extended dining hours. In the meantime, you can get their Endless Love Plate, an all-you-can-eat homemade vegetarian (and mostly vegan) buffet lunch for $7. The café describes their Endless Love plate as “an endless supply of Indian food Prema-style: our version of the southern classic red beans, rice and greens with a Bengali flair.” The menu varies from day to day, often based on what is local and in season. Kombucha and bottled water are also available for purchase.

When I dined there, the colorful menu consisted of dhal (a classic Indian lentil stew), cumin-scented rice, paneer (Indian cheese curds), mixed vegetables in a savory brown sauce and a fresh green salad, garnished with beets and edible flowers. Brooke and I paid for our meals at the studio’s front desk and then helped ourselves to the plentiful food, served up in metal warming trays.  We found a shady spot at one of the red picnic tables outside and then proceeded to dig in. Although the dhal had a thinner, soupier consistency that what I’ve had elsewhere, its lighter texture was perfect for a warm day, and its flavors married well with the cumin rice and mixed vegetables. The paneer added a chewy, heartier accompaniment, and the crispy, refreshing salad balanced perfectly with the warm dishes. Brooke and I both cleaned our plates and went back for seconds.  Although the meal was quite filling, it left me feeling energetic and satisfied versus overly stuffed and in need of a siesta.

There were probably around 15 or so people dining at the café during the time we were there, and the limited outdoor seating actually lent a nice, communal-dining feel. Shortly after we sat down at an empty picnic table, four other diners joined us. Although we did not all know each other, everyone knew at least one other person at the table, and we got to talking. And like the food, the conversation was quite colorful, with topics ranging from yoga to Madonna concerts to birthday champagne kegs to the state of our public school system. I left with a full belly, a smile and a sense of community. All that for $7; I’d say that’s some pretty good karma.

Visit Swan River Yoga’s website for more information about Good Karma Prasad Café and operating hours. Good Karma also has locations in Gulfport and Ocean Springs, MS. Check Yelp for details.

YL’s Picks for Local + Healthy Restaurants in New Orleans

Bayou St. John
Fair Grinds Coffeehouse
3133 Ponce de Leon
New Orleans, LA 70119
If you love unique coffee shops, you must visit this one. You’ll hear WWOZ playing in the background at this one of a kind spot, which offers vegan and vegetarian options. Don’t forget to check out the yoga classes that are held onsite.

Meltdown Popsicles
4011 St. Claude Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70117
The city’s most fabulous homemade popsicles! They use fresh ingredients and are environmentally friendly down to the drink straws. Stop by on a hot day and enjoy treats that have received the nod of approval from the James Beard Foundation.

3218 Dauphine St.
New Orleans, LA 70117
The word of mouth we heard was spot on – it’s fantastic! Head to Satsuma for fabulously fresh food and people watching.

Central Business District
Back to the Garden
833 Howard Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70113
Recommended by Peter

Café Carmo
527 Julia St.
New Orleans, LA
We’re happy to say that the service was much improved on our last visit. They have daily specials and offer vegetarian and vegan options. With fresh ingredients and creative dishes, you’ll keep coming back to Cafe Carmo.

City Greens
909 Poydras St, Ste. 125
New Orleans, LA
Open for breakfast and lunch, City Greens brings healthy choices to the CBD. Try their daily special or make your own. They offer a “Build Your Own Salad” option and you can also turn any salad into a wrap. The service is geared toward fast food and you may have to ask twice if you have dietary restrictions, but overall City Greens is a welcome addition for those who need a quick and healthy bite in the CBD. (located inside the office building at 909 Poydras on the first floor)

201 St. Charles Ave.
New Orleans, LA
Razz recommends the veggie max and the vitablue salad.

Vintage Garden Kitchen
201 St. Charles Ave., Place St. Charles
New Orleans, LA 70170
While we haven’t had the pleasure of visiting their restaurant, we can assure you that their soup is great. With a menu that boasts a variety of fresh salads, soups, and bowls, this fresh spot is a welcome addition to the CBD. They offer pick-up or delivery and also sell soup at the Thursday Farmer’s Market in Mid-City. They offer gluten free, vegan, and vegetarian “yumminess.”

336 Camp St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
A tip from our friend, Razz…”Huge salads and they are happy to modify (substitute) items to make some of the non-veggie salads veggie.”

French Quarter
1212 Royal Street
New Orleans, LA 70116
A shout out to Peter for recommending this gem in the Quarter. We’ve also gotten the thumbs up from Valerie. It looks like we had better get over to Bennachin and try some of their delicious African cuisine for ourselves.

Coop’s Place
1109 Decatur St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
We know, we know… this wouldn’t cut the mustard in the other LA for healthy eating establishments, but it’s all about working with what you’ve got in the Big Easy. Razz recommends the garden burger.

The Green Goddess
307 Exchange Pl.
New Orleans, LA 70130

Verti Marte
1201 Royal St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
According to Razz the mushroom mountain poboy might not fly with the
strictest of vegetarians, but he loves the yummy juice.

Pho Tau Bay
113 Westbank Expy.
Gretna, LA 70053
Our man Peter is all over the Vietnamese restaurants. Thank you Peter!

Hoa Hong 9 (Nine Roses)
1100 Stephens St.
Gretna, LA 70053
Vietnamese, courtesy of Peter

Lower Garden District
The Green Fork
1400 Prytania St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
Catering, store pick up, and delivery service offering fresh, local cuisine. When we visited the store the owner was so enthusiastic. She described all of the dishes and worked with us to find selections that she thought we would enjoy. This is a must try for carnivores, vegetarians, and vegans alike. The vegan carrot cake is so delicious you may want a second slice!

Santa Fe Tapas
1327 St. Charles Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70130
Fresh is the key word at Santa Fe Tapas. The award winning chefs can tantalize the taste buds of carnivores, vegetarians, and vegans alike. Making it a great restaurant to visit if you are in mixed company when it comes to dietary restrictions. Everyone in your party will leave satisfied and planning their next trip back to this great addition to healthy dining in New Orleans.

Metairie & Old Metairie
Pho Bang
3 Locations, Metairie is the most popular
8814 Veterans Memorial Blvd.
Metairie, LA 70003

701 Metairie Rd., Old Metaire Village Shopping Center
Metairie, LA 70005
It’s a chain, but we have to give it serious kudos for offering fresh, healthy options.

Canal Street Bistro
3903 Canal St.
New Orleans, LA 70119
The inviting and friendly staff make you feel right at home whether you’re dining inside or enjoying the view of the Canal Streetcar outside. They focus on local, healthy ingredients and offer vegan and vegetarian options, including fresh squeezed juice.

Good Karma Prasad Café
2940 Canal St. (inside Swan River Yoga)
New Orleans, LA 70119
A vegetarian, vegan friendly, conscious cafe in the heart of New Orleans. The cafe is currently open limited hours until they complete the construction of a full service kitchen. Please contact Swan River Yoga to confirm dining hours before you go.
“After a couple of Endless Love Plates and a little lagniappe, I think we both left feeling quite satisfied.” Read Betsy’s full review at the top of this page.

River Bend/ Oak Street
Cow Bell
8801 Oak Street
New Orleans, LA 70118
Okay, so we wouldn’t call this a vegetarian restaurant, but wow are their veggie burgers good! They call them “House Made Harvest Burgers”…ooh, la, la.

8237 Oak Street
New Orleans, LA 70118
Follow your yoga class on Oak Street with a delicious and nutritious juice or smoothie from d-Juice. We really like their “It’s Not Easy Being Green” drink. It gives you the benefits of green juice with a thicker consistency, like a smoothie.

Beaucoup Juice
4713 Freret St.
New Orleans, LA 70118
Wow! The fun murals and menus painted on the walls make this small space on Freret Street very inviting. The menu is complete with a wide assortment of fresh juices and smoothies, and also includes a few salads and paninis. Many of the ingredients come from the store’s own garden or from local farmers. The emphasis is on fresh, healthy, and friendly.

Fresh Bar
6101 Magazine St.
New Orleans, LA 70118
A salad and wrap bar that offers their own signature combinations or you can build your own salad or wrap from more than 50 topping options. The menu accommodates vegans, vegetarians, and meat lovers, plus all their dressings are house-made!

La Boulangerie
4600 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70115
While this lovely French bakery might cater more to your decadent side than your healthy side, it tops the list for freshness. They sell an array of fresh baked breads, quiches, pastries, and sandwiches. If you stop in during carnival season be ready to wait in line. You’ll be entertained while you’re waiting with the sight of the owner pulling loaves of delicious bread out of their towering multi-level oven. Bon appétit!

Super Food Bar
4113 Magazine St.
New Orleans, LA
It’s a bit pricey, but you are getting what you pay for in quality. The only drawback is that they only have a couple of stools, so there really isn’t anywhere to sit and relax. This is more of an on-the-go snack place with smoothies, teas, and kombucha.

Multiple Metro New Orleans Locations
Reginelli’s Pizzeria
Multiple locations throughout the metro area
We love the Sun Pie and recommend that you add spinach. Not only do they have great pizza, they have a couple of great veggie sandwiches too.

Naked Pizza
Multiple locations throughout the metro area
If you want pizza without the guilt, give this chain a try for a more natural tasting option.