I love to travel. I have a bucket list of all the places I want go at some point in my life and New Orleans is definitely on the list. There's something about the city that looks super interesting and completely enticing to me. I'm obsessed with the Disney movie The Princess and the Frog and I love the native NOLA accent. One of my travel dreams is to visit New Orleans for Mardi Gras and eat tons of King Cake. 

New Orleans has been celebrating Mardi Gras for years. The first actual parade was held in 1857 by the Krewe of Comus. It was that  group that began the tradition of having floats and events. Many people may not realize it, but the colors of Mardi Gras (purple, green, and gold) each have symbolic meaning. Purple represents justice, green represents faith, and gold represents power. 

If you're familiar with Mardi Gras, you know that a popular food to eat on this holiday is King Cake. In fact, the dessert is so specific to Mardi Gras that some people think if it's eaten any other time of the year it will then rain on Mardi Gras day. I know I'd be pissed if I traveled all the way to Louisiana and it rained on Mardi Gras!

It's 2017 and everyone has their own version of King Cake. Why stick with a regular cake when you can eat it as a smoothie or dip? Here are 10 King Cake-inspired recipes perfect for any Mardi Gras party.

1. King Cake Bars 

Have a ball walking down Canal Street in a Second Line carrying one of these bars in your hands. Easy to grab and go, a King Cake bar will satisfy your tummy as you shimmy down the street with the band. 

2. Gluten-Free King Cake 

For those of you with special diets, this one is for you. Gluten-free doesn't have to mean bland and boring. If it was me, I wouldn't even tell anyone this recipe is gluten-free just to see the looks on their faces!

3. King Cake Bites

These minis make you feel just fine eating more than one. These King Cake bites pair well with all the other finger foods at a Fat Tuesday party. Sneak off to the corner with a handful of bites and no one will notice how much you're really eating. 

4. Vegan King Cake

Show everyone that cakes can be delicious and healthy at the same time with a vegan version of the traditional King Cake. I bet no one will even taste the difference!

5. King Cake Bubble Up 

Give your basic cinnamon rolls a festive flare for Mardi Gras. Perfect for breakfast or brunch, this bubble up dessert tastes great with a bubbly adult beverage to drink.

6. Mardi Gras Cupcakes 

Who doesn't love a good cupcake? Perfect for any New Orleans/Mardi Gras-themed soirée or whenever you feel the craving. A King Cake cupcake is small enough to satisfy your sweet tooth and still be the hit at your party. 

7. Simple King Cake Bread Pudding 

Mind. Blown. I never thought about combining a King Cake with bread pudding but obviously it's a incredible idea. 

8. King Cake Dip 

This is a brilliant idea if you don't want to do the regular chips and dip. Trust me, no one is ever expecting to see a King Cake dip with pretzels waiting for them as soon as the walk into the festive get together. 

9. King Cake Donuts

If you're having a Mardi Gras-themed brunch for your folks or with your girlfriends, donuts are the best! With the mimosas flowing and everyone chillaxing, donuts are a great idea if you're looking for easy finger foods that are a little lighter.

10. Spiked King Cake Smoothie 

Sorta healthy, sorta not. A King Cake smoothie is maybe the only thing that doesn't look crazy after Mardi Gras is over. Personally, I'd probably go with the unhealthy version because it's Mardi Gras, after all. You've got to go all out and celebrate!  

Get your flights and hotel rooms together ASAP. This year, Mardi Gras is February 28th. Go with the bae, your girls, or your guys and live it up in NOLA.