Healthy Shrimp and Grits: Yes, there is such a thing!
Healthy shrimp and grits! Indeed, this Southern comfort food doesn’t have to be laden with extra calories, sodium and saturated fat. And the taste is still amazing.
I grew up in Florida and was raised to love grits (as well as all types of citrus fruit and seafood). My kids – born and raised in Virginia – grew up to love them too. Being from the North, my husband though was a grits convert. But alas the entire family can sit down to enjoy a breakfast or dinner with a side of grits. The entire family enjoys traveling too, and as we’ve traveled throughout the South, we’ve ordered shrimp and grits from many a restaurant. I decided it was time to healthify this favorite southern comfort food. And this recipe for healthy shrimp and grits does not disappoint.
How I made Healthy Shrimp and Grits
I started with whole-grain grits instead of a refined product. I prefer the yellow grits for flavor and color, but feel free to swap them out for white grits. Just skip the quick-cooking varieties. To keep the calories down, I used as little oil as possible and avoided butter. I’m not much of a fan of bacon or ham, so I omitted them too, but kept the smoky flavor with the addition of smoked paprika. This helps to keep the calories and saturated fat in check. For a boost of umami, I sautéed some mushrooms. If you want even more umami, add a little Parmesan cheese to the grits or sprinkle some on top of the dish before serving.
If you have diabetes and find that this recipe puts your meal total for carbohydrates above your goal, you can cut the portion of grits to 2/3 cup to save about 9 grams of carbohydrate.
Healthy Shrimp and Grits
- 1 cup stone ground whole grain yellow grits (may be labeled polenta)
- 3 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (use low sodium broth to trim the sodium even more)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, divided
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms (start with 8-10 ounces untrimmed mushrooms)
- 6 scallions, cut into approximately 2-inch pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- Combine the chicken broth and 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika in a medium pot with a lid and bring to a boil. Gradually pour in the grits and stir vigorously. Reduced the heat to to medium low, so the grits cook at a low boil. Keep the pot covered except to stir periodically to prevent clumping. Remove from the heat when the grits are at the desired consistency, after about 6 to 8 minutes. For this recipe, I prefer my grits on the wetter side, but you can continue to cook them until they are the way you prefer them.
- While the grits are cooking, toss the shrimp with the salt, crushed garlic and remaining 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and swirl to cover the pan. Add the shrimp and cook on each side until just pink, a total of about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the skillet.
- In the same skillet, add the mushrooms and scallions. Sautée on medium high heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until soft. Return the cooked shrimp to the skillet. Sprinkle the thyme and pepper over the shrimp and vegetables and stir.
- To serve, scoop up about 1 cup of grits and 1 cup of shrimp and vegetable mixture into each of 4 bowls. If you have leftovers, store the grits separate from the shrimp for easier reheating.
So you see, this healthy shrimp and grits recipe proves that wholesome food can be comforting. Check out other healthy comfort foods.
Cheers to happy, healthy eating!
Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, CHWC, FAND, is a Nutrition, Culinary & Diabetes Expert, Wellcoach®-certified health and wellness coach, Freelance Writer, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's also the author of four books, including a best-seller. She's a nationally-recognized media expert in high demand for print and online interviews, as well as corporate and one-on-one nutritional counseling. Jill's philosophy is that nutrition science should be understandable, realistic and oh so delicious.
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Like most of my patients and clients, I lead a busy life. You probably do too. Fortunately, you don’t need weeks, days or even hours to start living better and healthier. This blog offers timesaving strategies and bite-sized nutrition and health information. Come by often for tips and inspiration to healthy living – no matter how busy you are. I am a registered dietitian nutritionist offering credible, practical nutrition advice to keep busy people healthy. Yes indeed, we can be both busy and healthy.