Fresh flavors lighten things up

I have never been a very big shrimp fan. Recently, however, I found that I needed to reset my food and meal choices and get back on track for some healthier eating. Shrimp can be part of a healthy eating plan because it is sustainable, lean and high in protein, not to mention extremely easy and fast to fix.

I think I always found shrimp intimidating because it was always “fancy” food when I was growing up and through much of my adult life. Not to mention, growing up in Wyoming in the 80’s and 90’s shrimp was invariably always frozen and breaded to begin with then deep fried….and it just wasn’t my thing.

With the changes to my eating habits I have discovered some lighter ways to eat this sea food staple while not breaking the bank and bringing my kids along in helping to develop their taste for lighter fare. I hope you enjoy these recipes.

Italian grilled shrimp

This is a twist on a recipe that I found published by weight watchers. If you do the point system it is 2 points per serving which is largely because of the oil element. Regardless it is fast, delicious and is also good served cold or reheated the next day. The key to succulent tender shrimp is to not over cook. If they start to curl up tightly then they have been cooked too long or on too high of heat. I have made this numerous times including for a baby shower and it has been a hit every time. As a note, I triple this recipe for my family and it serves for at least two meals for the five of us that eat shrimp.

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1.5 tablespoon italian seasoning

1.5 tablespoon minced garlic

1 pound uncooked large or extra large shrimp peeled, deveined and tails off (I buy them this way in the frozen food section).

Coat a grill rack or grill pan with nonstick spray. I actually use an aluminum pan on my traeger.

In a medium bowl stir oil, lemon zest, juice, salt, pepper, italian seasoning and iced garlic all together. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the mix to a small bowl to use for serving.

Add shrimp to remaining mix and toss/stir until very well coated. thread shrimp on skewers or put in pan.

Grill shrimp until just cooked through on medium to medium-high heat depending on your grill. Just watch them typically 2 minutes per side or 15 minutes for a pan. To serve place on platter and drizzle with reserved seasoning.

One pot white beans and shrimp

There might be a theme here….we love the combo of lemon and shrimp. My husband doesn’t care for the spinach but I just let him pick it out. Often the girls and I have this for a quick and easy lunch. To up the nutrition factor and give your dish more substance you can use whole wheat pasta.

8 oz uncooked fettuccine

1.5 cups cooked cannellini beans (can be canned or you cook) rinsed and drained

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 pound uncooked large shrimp peeled and deveined

2 teaspoons lemon zest

10 oz baby spinach

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs like basil, thyme and/or parsley if you have it.

In a large skillet (I use by 6 quart heavy duty or cast iron pan) pour 3.5 cups water; add the fettuccine, beans, oil, salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered for almost 10 minutes or until al dente, stirring and tasing frequently with tongs. Stir in the shrimp and lemon zest, cooke 2 minutes. Gradually add the spinach tossing constantly until the spinach wilts. If mixture becomes too dry add water 1/2 cup at a time. Remove pan from heat and stir in lemon juice and fresh herbs then serve with parmesan or feta cheese.

Wyoming version of Katie Lee’s sheet pan shrimp

I have written about my love of sheet pan suppers before and this one is no different. The reason I call it the Wyoming version is because I have added in cowboy candy in place of the capers for some vinegary sweet zip but capers work great if you don’t have the cowboy candy. I also sprinkle it with crisp cooked bacon pieces when serving and double the ingredients for my family size. We like this served with fresh baked bread or over brown rice. To help with clean up I use either a silicon pan liner or line my sheet pan with tin foil.

3 Tablespoons dry white wine

3 Tablespoons olive oil

four minced garlic cloves divided

12 oz canned artichoke hearts drained

8 oz uncooked green beans trimmed and cut in half

2 cups grape/cherry tomatoes

1 medium red onion cut into chunks

10 pitted kalamata olives coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons chopped cowboy candy (or rinsed capers)

3/4 tsp kosher salt divided

3/8 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 large lemon zested and juiced

1 pound uncooked large shrimp peeled and deveined

4 oz crumbled feta cheese

Preheat your oven to 450. In a large bowl whisk wine, 2 T oil, 3 minced garlic cloves. Add in artichokes, green beans, tomatoes, onion, olives and cowboy candy and toss to coat. Season mixture with salt and pepper and transfer to your baking sheet. Spread out in an even layer. Roast 10-12 minutes util tomatoes get soft and begin to release their juices.

While vegetables roast, in same bowl mix remaining oil, garlic clove, oregano, crushed red pepper and lemon zest and juice. Add shrimp and toss to coat. season with salt and pepper. When ready, add shrimp pto the vegetables in an even layer and roast another 8-10 minutes until shrimp are pink. Pull out and sprinkle with feta and bacon. You can prepare this on a traeger grill on high setting as well.