Local family creates low-sodium Cajun spice blend
By Holly A. PhillipsPosted Jul 18, 2012
From pots of gumbo or jambalaya to fried boudin balls and blackened alligator, Baton Rouge is no stranger to cooking with flavor. However, when it comes to nutritional value the statistics tell a different story. Thankfully, a local family has taken matters into their kitchen to find a solution for one problem: keeping the flavor in Cajun cooking, while lowering salt content.
Jeanpierre’s Special Blend Season-All, a mix of spices to flavor nearly anything, has just 7 percent salt and no MSG. The seasoning, sold in 8 and 16-ounce cans locally and online, is the first product from Jeanpieere Family Spices, LLC.
“The no-salt version of Season-All will be out later this year,” said Roderick Jeanpierre.
Growing up, Jeanpierre, his sister, and the rest of their family cooked often. His aunt had a catering business in New Roads, giving him a first-hand look at the art of cooking.
In the mid-‘90s, Jeanpierre’s father suffered a heart attack, which left him on a strict no-sodium diet. The family rallied around him, trying to find ways to make tasty meals without salt that met his dietary needs.
“We would buy all kinds of different spices and mix them together,” Jeanpierre said. “I didn’t eat what we cooked for my dad because I love salt.”
Jeanpierre got a quick wakeup call when a trip to the doctor revealed he had high cholesterol and blood pressure. He, too, needed to cut back on his salt intake.
With the spice mix they’d prepared for their dad, the Jeanpierres started putting it on everything, and using it at cookouts with family and friends. Soon they were putting the blend in jars for people to take home.
“One day a friend asked me, ‘Why don’t you try and sell this?’” Jeanpierre said. “About a year after that, it was on the shelves.”
Jeanpierre’s Special Blend Season-All is a mix of black and red pepper, sweetener, garlic, onion, and paprika, among other ingredients. Jeanpierre spent time getting his product approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and also spent time with dieticians at Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
“We have to follow certain guidelines with the ingredients and the labeling,” he said. “Our main goal is not to trick the consumers, but to educate them on the health value of this product.”
Although this particular mix of seasoning only contains 150 milligrams of salt, less than half the amount of other seasoning blends, the packaging cannot say “low-salt” unless it’s below 140 milligrams.
Jeanpierre put thought into the packaging and the marketing, because he wanted maintain low overhead to avoid jacking up the consumer’s price.
“The healthier the food, the more expensive it costs,” he said. “Many times, people choose something cheaper, and the health value is lost. We don’t want that to happen with our product.”
The website, JeanpierreSpices.com, houses recipes written by Chef Celeste Gills that are used on The Around Town Show on Channel 9 each weekend. However, Jeanpierre doesn’t need a complex recipe to use his own spice blend.
“I really do use it on everything,” he said, laughing. “I make a turkey wrap with lettuce and tomato, sprinkle some on there, and wrap it up.”
Right now, Jeanpierre’s mix has his immediate family and his dad involved.
“People think my dad owns it, because he wears the shirt everywhere and talks about it,” he said. “I want to get everyone, even my friends, involved. This is a small business that’s going to grow really big in the coming years.”
With online orders available, it’s not just Louisiana locals trying to add flair to their food. Jeanpierre has sold seasoning to Florida, Texas, California, and Nebraska, among others. As a company, Jeanpierre’s takes pride in the local community, being sure to recycle their packaging and give back where they can.
“We’ve done jambalaya dinners with CVS Pharmacy – that helps the Easter Seals – and we sponsored the Jambalaya Jam for United Way,” he said.
Jeanpierre was born and raised in Baton Rouge, and every part of the company is in Louisiana, including the mixing, packaging, the insurance, and even the website design.
“We want to represent Baton Rouge and Louisiana, while alerting the nation about being health conscious,” he said. “Most people say we’ve got the best food but the worst health. We want to keep Cajun cooking and make it healthier.”
Try Jeanpierre’s Special Blend Season-All at these locations: BD Kitchen Co., Hi Nabor Supermarket, Reeve’s Supermarket, Rende’s Quick Stop, Acadian Food Mart, Alby’s Market and Deli, Ann’s Grocery, and Red Stick Spice Company.
Spicy Curried Shrimp Salad Ingredients
- 1 lb. large shrimp, peeled
- 1 tsp. curry powder
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
? - 1 tsp. Jeanpierre’s Season-All
- 2 tsps. diced red onion
- Salt to taste
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
? - 1/4 cup honey mustard
? - 2 cups fresh spinach
- 2 boiled eggs, sliced
Directions:? Sautee shrimp in oil. Add next five ingredients and cook. Pour atop spinach and eggs. Can be served with brown rice or pasta.
For more information on Jeanpierre, visit www.jeanpierrespices.com/.