Helping people live healthy in New Orleans is a tough job, but Molly Kimball, RD and CSSD, is up for the challenge. Kimball has been a leader on the health & wellness scene in New Orleans for quite some time now. As the creator of Eat Fit NOLA, a partnership with Ochsner Health System and over 50 local restaurants to develop and identify healthy menu items and collaborate with local chefs to prepare and present fun, upbeat nutrition classes, Kimball can steer you in the right direction for a hearty, healthy meal in the city.
When she’s not helping whip up delicious meals and menus in some of our favorite iconic New Orleans restaurants, i.e. Broussard’s, Commander’s, (and now in the new Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport), Kimball advises clients at Ochsner’s Elmwood Fitness Center in areas including reducing body fat, building lean muscle, endurance training, disordered eating and general health and wellness. As a sports dietician, she’s worked with clients that run the gamut of professional athletes. We talked to Molly to find out how she does New Orleans in our 20 Questions series.
Who is your favorite New Orleanian, dead or alive, real or imagined?
Leah Chase is definitely at the top of my list. She was a spectacular, special person, so full of life, love, and the spirit of inclusion. I had the opportunity to interview her for our Eat Fit Cookbook, for which I am forever grateful. She was so proud that our group of ‘young women’ were pulling this project together.
What first brought you to New Orleans?
I grew up in Baton Rouge, and as a kid, my dad and I would visit New Orleans a few times a year for things like the Riverwalk and shows at the Saenger. When he married my stepmom Pat (I was 15), we immediately inherited family in New Orleans. I moved to New Orleans in 1998 for my dietetic internship and stayed here for my job at Ochsner Fitness Center.
In your opinion – what’s the best neighborhood in New Orleans?
I love them all, there’s really not a ‘best’ in my opinion. The personality and architecture throughout all of New Orleans is just incredible. That said, I find that some of my favorite photo backdrops are the colorful homes in the Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods.
If it’s a beautiful day, where are you going to spend it?
Audubon Park or City Park for a walk-and-talk with a friend. If it’s a weekend day, I love any of our local arts markets – Palmer Park is one of my favorites.
Describe the best meal you’ve eaten in New Orleans.
There’s no way I can narrow this down, especially with so many incredible Eat Fit restaurants that we work so closely with! We’re fortunate that we have an abundance of locally-owned, chef-driven restaurants with welcoming staff and atmospheres that truly invite us to settle in and savor.
Where’s your favorite brunch spot?
Commander’s Palace for special celebrations, and if friends are visiting from out of town. The Daily Beet and Slim Goodies for everyday breakfast and brunch – they also make great spots for mid-morning weekday meetings.
What’s your favorite type of po-boy? Where do you get it?
So it’s not exactly a po-boy, but my favorite sandwich in New Orleans is the Caprese Panini from Nor-Joe’s on Frisco Avenue in Metairie: a pressed sandwich with fresh mozzarella layered with sliced Roma tomatoes and homemade pesto. We’re currently exploring whole grain bread options from a few local New Orleans bakeries to create an Eat Fit version…fingers crossed.
You’ve got friends visiting, and it’s their first time in New Orleans – where are you taking them?
I love introducing out-of-town friends to the local shops, galleries and restaurants where they’ll often have the opportunity meet the owner, the chef, the artist – the people who are the core, the spirit of our city. Visitors are always struck by how warm and welcoming everyone is.
What’s your favorite neighborhood bar?
The Hot Tin rooftop bar on top of the Ponchartrain Hotel – it has a cool, laid-back vibe with amazing views of the river and the city skyline.
What is your favorite New Orleans cocktail, and where do you go to get it?
I don’t drink anymore – actually since our first-annual Alcohol Free For 40 Challenge, I realized how much better, and more balanced I felt without it. So for an Eat Fit-style mocktail I love anything with Big Easy Bucha; several of our local bars have it on tap. My fave is their Cajun Kick kombucha, straight out of the bottle as-is, or in a champagne glass with sliced citrus for garnish.
What’s your favorite dessert or sweet treat in the city?
Homemade gelato at Piccolo Gelato – their Caramelized Fig and Goat Cheese is insane.
Best spot to see live music?
Any + all outdoor festivals.
Favorite New Orleans musician or band?
Robin Barnes. She’s so talented and mesmerizing to watch, and her spirit is just so beautiful and pure.
Favorite New Orleans festival?
French Quarter Fest.
What’s your ideal New Orleans date night?
Typically if we’ve had a lot going on, I love nothing more than just hanging at our house and cooking or having a charcuterie and cheese board.
What are your favorite local shops?
Home Malone for gift and home décor made by local artists; Tasc for athletic wear.
What is your favorite New Orleans museum?
Southern Food & Beverage Museum — and the Sculpture Garden at NOMA is a close second. It’s next to a ‘museum’ so hopefully that counts.
Where do you go to watch The Saints play?
If we’re lucky enough to have tickets, we’ll head to the Dome — which I love because they have Eat Fit options! If not the Dome, we love just watching it at our house.
Describe New Orleans in one word.
When was the last time you fell in love with New Orleans, and why?
Every time we travel, we meet someone who has a New Orleans story that makes them light up. It makes me so proud to be from such a special place!