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New Orleans King Cake Tradition the Meaning Behind It 2022

New Orleans King Cake

New Orleans King Cake Tradition the Meaning Behind It 2022

The King Cake is a New Orleans tradition that involves a pastry, a small plastic baby, and a party. The King Cake is baked with a small plastic baby hidden inside, the person who gets the slice with baby in it has to host the next party.

The name “king cake” comes from the Biblical story of the three kings who bring gifts to Baby Jesus. A blend of coffee cake and cinnamon roll, king cake is usually iced in yellow, green and purple – the colors of Mardi Gras — and is frequently packed with fruit fillings and decadent cream cheeses.

The New Orleans King Cake Tradition and the Meaning Behind It food

  • Mardi Gras 2021 Fat Tuesday falls on February 16.
  • Eating king cake, a messy, breaded delight, is one of the main traditions of Mardi Gras that begins on January 6.
  • Here’s the story behind the treat and the meaning of the plastic baby inside.

If you eat only one purple, green, and yellow dessert this winter, make it a cake king.

For those less familiar with Mardi Gras Traditions, your first experience with king cake might come from a friend or co-worker who hails from Louisiana. As you cut a slice of the oval-shaped treat, you may be told that whoever gets the piece with a bit of plastic baby inside should bring the king cake next time. This news will only prompt more questions, like ‘Is this a ridiculous rule they just made up?’ and ‘Why is there a baby in my cake?’

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The answer to that first question is no; in fact, it’s customary for some. Second, the explanation for the baby is as cross-culturally excellent as all things Mardi Gras, including the famous New Orleans foods we associate with it. People eat king cake during the Carnival season, which begins on January 6 on the Christian holiday of Epiphany, which is also called King’s Day or Dia de Los tres Reyes. 

New Orleans residents and other Mardi Gras enthusiasts across the country eat them in the weeks after Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras Day (which is Tuesday, February 16 this year). You could make your king cake and eat it any time of the year, but would you make a pumpkin pie in July?

How is the day of the Three Kings celebrated?

Here is a brief introduction to what the King Cake is and its history. And since the 2021 parades are canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, you may want to order a king cake for delivery from popular go-to’s like Randazzo’s, De Gambino’s, or Haydel’s Bakery yourself. It’s a delightfully festive way to celebrate.

What is King Cake, and what is it made of?

King cake is one of New Orleans’ local delicacies, an oval twisted confection covered in white icing and sugar sprinkles that salutes the official colors of Mardi Gras: Green for faith, purple for justice, and gold for power. A trinket, usually a plastic baby, is hidden inside each one.

King cake typically tastes like a delicious Danish breakfast; a brioche bread mixed with cinnamon is made from eggs, flour, butter, sugar, and yeast. Big Easy bakeries offer their twists on the classic recipe: Eater Deals a great map of delicious Louisiana options, with fillings like berry cream cheese, pecan praline, and apple goat cheese.

What about the king cake, baby?

Like Mardi Gras itself, the royal cake tradition has its roots in Old World Europe, primarily France and Spain. Colonists brought an early (and much less colorful) version to Louisiana, where families baked and ate it at home. According to NPR, the practice of hiding a trinket in it at Mardi Gras began in the late 1800s when Twelfth Night Revelers, New Orleans’ second carnival krewe, put a bean in it. 

The person who found it in their slice would be crowned king or queen of their ball that year.

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The trinket would eventually change into a nut or a jeweled ring. Still, it wouldn’t become a baby cake until the 1950s, all because of a hilarious run-in between a baker and a traveling salesman. Donald Entringer, a baker at a commercial bakery in New Orleans called McKenzie’s, was convinced by a salesman to buy many tiny dolls. Like the one from NPR, some accounts say the original babies were made of porcelain, while others claim they were plastic like the ones we see today.

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11 Fascinating Mardi Gras Traditions Oprah’s Favorite Things 2019: Food Gifts

The rules about what happens when you find the baby varies, as this hilarious Reddit thread about it demonstrates. Sometimes you can be ‘king’ for a day, other celebrants will ask you for a fresh cake.

I heard that the baby represents Jesus, though

Rosca de Reyes, the older Latin cousin of king cake, was eaten during the January 6 holiday celebrated throughout Spain and Mexico. Also oval, the cake is traditionally garnished with candied fruit slices (often red and green) and is enjoyed by families on Three Kings Day. There is usually a baby hidden inside, although it has a more overtly religious connotation than the king cake: the small white figure represents the infant Jesus hiding from King Herod.

NurPhoto fake images

The French version, eaten in France on the first Sunday in January, is not a ring but a puffed tart, often filled with a mixture of almond cream and pastry. It also contains a trinket known as a bean, not a literal bean, but a small toy.

NurPhoto fake images

Whichever sweet, round treat you choose, it will be fit for a king, aka you if he finds himself nibbling on the prize inside.

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New Orleans King Cake Tradition the Meaning Behind It 2022
New Orleans King Cake Tradition the Meaning Behind It 2022

Here’s how to eat healthy at Taco Bell

food

Taco Bello, you go to Taco Bell. That super green salad isn’t on your cards today (or maybe ever). We hear you, And while ‘balanced eating’ and the spirit of ‘Live Mas’ may not seem to go hand in hand, it’s doable to have a tasty and healthy meal at Taco Bell without abandoning any diet-based resolutions you’ve set. Nutritionists weigh in on the best menu items to order (there are tons!) if you’re looking to cut calories and carbs at the Mexican chain.

What to order for breakfast

We’ll get it out of the way first: yes, you should skip the Cinnabon treats (if you want to splurge on these sweet treats, consider eating a donut and then sharing the rest with your co-workers or saving them for later). Instead, opt for a refreshing glass of orange juice, or stick with water, and the Breakfast Taco Soft Egg and Cheese, hold the bacon.

‘It has 170 calories, 9 grams of fat, 330 milligrams of sodium, and seven grams of protein. I like it because you get your protein from cage-free whole eggs, and you skip all the processed meats,” says Karen Z. Berg, MS, RD, CDN. “You can also customize it and ask for less cheese to reduce sodium and fat content.”

Healthy breakfast selections Breakfast Taco Soft Egg and Cheese

rooster beak

To add an extra five grams of filling fiber, add black beans. For an additional 25 cents, opt for the Pico de Gallo.

“I often add chipotle sauce or seasoning to scrambled eggs at home because they have a ton of flavor without a lot of extra calories,” says Lindsey Toth, MS, RD, of Swanson Health. Order their Breakfast Soft Taco without the bacon and order Pico de Gallo instead to mimic that in a breakfast taco. You’ll cut calories and fat without sacrificing flavor.’

Make it fresh!

You’re going to want to have these three words ready if you’re looking to eat healthier at Taco Bell: Make it fresh.

“Asking for it Fresh is a quick and easy way to cut calories and fat,” explains Toth. 

When he requests that his order get the Fresco treatment, mayonnaise-based sauces, cheeses, reduced-fat sour cream, and guacamole are replaced with freshly made pico de gallo. (Of course, while caloric guacamole with nutrient-dense avocados is always a healthy option, feel free to consider ordering as a side.) ‘Take their shredded chicken burrito, for example; simply asking to ‘make it fresh’ your order will take you from 420 calories to 320 calories. It’s an easy way to make your favorite order a little healthier.’

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Is Chick-fil-A healthy?

Not surprisingly, all of the nutritionists we tapped agreed that Fresco options reign supreme on the Taco Bell menu. “Taco Bell has a Fresco menu with lighter items that are under 350 calories and 10 grams of fat,” offers Summer Yule, MS, RDN, whose personal favorite is the Fresco Soft Taco with shredded steak.

‘It contains 150 calories, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 10 grams of protein, and 460 milligrams of sodium. This item is the lowest in saturated fat of the Fresco menu items and contains much less sodium than Fresco’s burritos.

Healthy selections for lunch and dinner

Fresh Soft Taco With Shredded Chicken

New Orleans King Cake Tradition the Meaning Behind It 2022
New Orleans King Cake Tradition the Meaning Behind It 2022

Fresh Crispy Taco with Beef

Any other top options in Frescoville? Karen Z. Berg, MS, RD, CDN, recommends the Taco Fresco Soft With Shredded Chicken which has 150 calories, six grams of fat, 430 milligrams of sodium, and nine grams of protein. “The sodium is a little high, but it’s still one of the best options on the menu. You can bulk it up by ordering more iceberg lettuce without adding more sodium, fat, or calories,” adds Berg.

Rachel Fine, MS, RD, and owner of New York City A The Pointe Nutrition, echoes Berg’s sentiment, emphasizing that this taco ‘still contains a quarter of your daily sodium allowance, so one should limit portions to one or two (maximum).’

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Best secret menu items

Another solid option is the Taco Crispy Fresco Con Carne De Res, clocking in at 140 calories with 2.5 grams of saturated fat and 300 milligrams of sodium. “I like this item because it offers a low-calorie taco option while keeping the sodium pretty low,” shares Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD. “Also, this taco provides a decent amount of fiber and protein so that it would be a healthy part of a light meal.”

As always, you can add black beans for an extra kick of fiber and protein for only about 80 calories.

What else to order for lunch and dinner?

Dublin is also a fan of tasty and satisfying. Spicy Toast has 210 calories, three grams of saturated fat, and 440 milligrams of sodium, along with five grams of fiber and six grams of protein.

Spicy Toast Taco Bell

‘I like this product because it keeps sodium below 500 milligrams while providing a healthy balance of protein and fiber. Also, the sugar content is low and provides a gluten-free option for those who have to avoid it,’ Dublin notes.

Order the black beans and rice for a light lunch with 190 calories and 390 milligrams of sodium with no saturated fat. It is a good choice for vegetarians, as it provides five grams of protein and six grams of fiber to help keep you going until your next meal or snack. Salsa or hot sauce can be added to this dish for additional flavor with negligible calories and less than 100 milligrams of sodium,’ says Yule.

And what about that ‘energy menu’?

It’s just marketing. Taco Bell added an ‘Energy Menu’ that offers high-protein options, but don’t be fooled; that doesn’t mean they’re healthy. In addition to 26 grams of protein, the Power Menu Steak Bowl contains 1,240 milligrams of sodium and 21 grams of fat (seven grams of saturated fat). 

With 55 grams of total carbs, it’s not ideal for those following a ketogenic diet. or a low-carb diet,” Toth advises. “There are much healthier ways to get your daily protein on the go without all that sodium, like with a protein shake made with simple, real food ingredients.”

what to skip

Attentive eaters, wake up your ears. “You should avoid the XXL grilled stuffed burrito, specifically the beef one, but they’re all pretty bad for you,” says Berg. “The beef has 870 calories, 40 grams of fat, 14 grams of saturated fat, and a ridiculous 2,140 milligrams of sodium. There are much healthier alternatives at this fast-food chain’. Adds Yule: “The sodium in this XXL Grilled Stuffed Beef Burrito is close to the Dietary Guidelines recommendation of limiting sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams per day.”

Skip these items

New Orleans King Cake Tradition the Meaning Behind It 2022
New Orleans King Cake Tradition the Meaning Behind It 2022

Fiesta Taco Salad with Chicken

You may think salads are a more intelligent choice, but Fine urges customers to steer clear of the chain’s Fiesta Taco Salad with Chicken, thanks to its 35 grams of fat and a whopping 1,500 milligrams of sodium.

How to enjoy your favorites

Suzanne Fisher, MS, RD, says Taco Bell customers watching their consumption should beware of standard upgrades like nacho cheese sauce, creamy jalapeno sauce, and fries. “It’s an easy way to add extra ingredients without considering the extra calories, fat, and sodium they add to the food.” In general, ask that your order be light on the cheese, or “try substituting guacamole for cheese as a way to increase the food’s healthy unsaturated fat content,” says Fine.

Gulbin also suggests that diners should avoid the white flour soft taco tortilla whenever possible to lower their total sodium, calorie, and carbohydrate intake — that is, if you’re worried about that sort of thing.

A final note on willows

“If the meal includes sauces, I would order them on the side and avoid ordering more, especially creamy ones because they are often high in sodium, sugar, or saturated fat,” suggests Ysabel Montemayor, MS, RD, lead nutritionist at Fresh n’ Lean. 

 “If you order sauces to go with it, you have more control over how much goes into the meal. You’ll probably end up consuming less.”

vegetarian favorites Taco Bell

Of course, the guacamole and pico de gallo get that RD stamp of approval, so feel free to think outside the shell and double down the next time you crave a taco.

Frequently Asked Questions: King Cake

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What is king cake from Louisiana?

The king cake is a mixture of a French pastry and a coffee cake. Its oval shape and festive colors give it a unique appeal. The original version features the royal colors of gold, purple, and green. Gold represents power, purple represents justice, and green signifies faith.

What does a king cake taste like?

King cakes come in various flavors, but traditionally, the king cake is a cinnamon-flavored dough covered in sweet green, gold, and purple sugar or icing. Over time, other flavors became just as popular. Two of the most popular flavors are the cream-cheese and our Praline king cake.

What is the tradition of king cake?

King cake is eaten on January 6 in honor of Epiphany, or Twelfth Night, which historically marks the arrival of the three wise men/kings in Bethlehem who delivered gifts to the baby Jesus. (The plastic baby hidden inside king cakes today is a nod to this story.)

Why is it called Kings cake?

The King Cake tradition is thought to have been brought to New Orleans from France in 1870. Each person looks to see if their piece contains the “baby.” If so, then that person is named “King” for a day and bound by custom to host the next party and provide the King Cake.

Is it safe to bake a plastic baby in a king cake?

Yes, you certainly can! It’s a Mardi Gras tradition! Use a small plastic baby and add it into your King Cake during the braiding portion. The dough will rise around the baby and secure it into the cake.

What is Chantilly king cake?

$45.00. This king cake is filled with our whipped chantilly cream, fresh strawberries, blueberries, and a light drizzle of raspberry filling. Topped with a light coat of icing and sugar.

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