Tag Archives: shrimp
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Weekly Meal Prep: Mason Jar Salad – Shrimp quinoa with ranch and romaine

28 Apr

I’ve discovered something recently. My portion control had packed up and left me. Totally peaced out. So that meant I was eating larger than necessary portions, snacking in between meals on less than healthy stuff, and having one too many glasses of wine with dinner. The wake up call was the number on the scale. Don’t get me wrong – the number isn’t what matters to me. It is how my clothes feel. And my clothes were feeling hella small. The number on the scale was just the push I needed to start making changes.

Now, I don’t know about you but I cannot diet. I just can’t. As soon as something becomes off-limits, it is ALL I want to eat. So I started using My Fitness Pal again to keep track of my weight as well as all the food and drink I’m ingesting. I’m into week 3 and I’ve lost 5 pounds. Not huge, but slow and steady wins the weight loss race. I’m trying to lose weight, but I’m also trying to regain control of portions. To put more effort into planning my meals so that I refrain from eating convenience foods because I have a healthy meal on hand.

Here’s where the mason jar meals come into play. They are super portable. I have a plethora of jars due to my canning hobby. I can make a weeks worth of meals, and just grab a jar and have lunch ready to go. The lettuce or cabbage will stay crispy because it is as far away from the wet stuff – dressing/sauce – as possible. The meals are healthy. HEALTHY people! And full of flavor. The goal is to keep my lunches at 400 calories or less. This recipe falls around 300 calories – 14 grams of fat, 16 grams of protein, and is very filling from the combo of the quinoa and shrimp. I loved this meal.

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As always, I make everything from scratch. I try to have cooked quinoa frozen in portions in the freezer. That way it’s ready to use for salads or side dishes. For the from scratch ranch dressing – this is by far the simplest dressing recipe I’ve ever experienced. Everything goes into a mason jar, you shake it up and boom.

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing: This is a big “to taste” seasoned recipe. The only thing I measure out is the buttermilk and mayo. The ratio of buttermilk to may is 2 to 1. So when I make a batch of this dressing for the week, I do 6oz buttermilk and 3oz mayo. I use the measurement lines on the side of my jars to show me.

For the additional flavor boosters (these measurements are not approximate, they are my best guess)

I use freeze-dried chives – probably about 1/4 cup

Dill – 1 tablespoon

Garlic powder: 1 1/2 teaspoons

Kosher Salt: 1 1/2 teaspoons

Black Pepper: 1 1/2 teaspoons.

Put all of these ingredients in a mason jar, shake like crazy and you have a ready-made, from scratch buttermilk ranch dressing that blows the store bought kind right out of the water.

Now onto the salad!

This list of ingredients will give you one salad. I usually make enough of everything to have a weeks worth on hand for my lunches.

You’re going to want to layer the ingredients in your wide mouth quart jar as follows:

1 tablespoon homemade buttermilk ranch

1 tablespoon 2% milk fat cottage cheese

1 tablespoon crumbled feta

4 tablespoons cooked quinoa

3oz (about 15) small cooked shrimp

2 cups chopped/torn romaine

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When I am ready to eat it, I add a little splash of water to the jar so that the dressing and cottage cheese gets a little runnier and coats all of the lettuce. I shake the jar up, and them pour the salad onto a dinner plate. As you can see from the photo, this is a nice hearty salad. The lettuce stays crisp because it is away from the dressing. The shrimp and quinoa get some flavor from sitting in the dressing. It really is a great salad, and so filling. With warm weather looming, this is going to be my go to meal of summer!
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Have you tried mason jar meals? If so, what are you eating?

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Lighter Snack & Lunch Idea – Lightly Pickled Shrimp!

4 Mar

Every time a new year arrives, the gyms flood with people trying to set new goals with their brand new good intentions. The produce aisle and whole grain sections at the grocery stores are cleared of all things healthy as people embark on a quest for better eating habits. Then it dies off, at the latest, in early February and most people go back to their bad food choices and lazy ways. I never make healthy eating or fitness a new years resolution because it’s like setting yourself up for failure. Healthy eating, fitness, lifestyle changes – you can’t give them deadlines. You’ve got to be mentally ready for the challenge. YOU have to want to do it. I think I’m mentally ready to start getting back into shape again after too much good food & beer. I’m cutting back on the good beer, but not cutting it out. Cutting things out leads to binging on those things because you feel deprived. I need REAL life changes and choices, not a quick fix to drop some weight right now, just to gain it back when I get back to normal.

So for the first week I started getting a little more creative with my lunch choices. I wanted meals that would keep me full and give me the most bang for my buck calorie and nutrition wise. That’s why I started eating Spinach & Cheese Toasts – and I wanted to add in something that had some more protein than the mushrooms I was eating with it and it to be light, healthy & flavorful. So I decided to do a quick, light pickling of some medium sized shrimp. Don’t turn your nose up at the thought of “pickled” shrimp. These aren’t anything like eating a kosher dill pickle. These are brightly flavored without being too “pickled” tasting. They have zing from the apple cider vinegar and fresh lemon juice. There is a hint of spice from the red pepper flakes and garlic. They are just layered with flavor and I love it! I think these will be a great snack and lunch addition, as well as be a great option to take to a summertime picnic or BBQ as an appetizer to share! And the brine? Don’t let it go to waste. It’s lovely smeared on some crusty, whole grain french bread with a couple of the shrimp on top. I think it would also be great as a pasta salad, brining the shrimp overnight and then tossing the jar of ingredients into some pasta. Or quinoa. Next time I make this, I’m going to add in a couple extra shakes of the pepper flakes for a little more zing!

Feel free to double this recipe if you are making it for a group. I made this small batch because I wanted to only have what I would consume over a few days for lunches.

pickled shrimp

Lightly Pickled Shrimp

1/2 lb peeled and deveined shrimp, raw, tails off

1 tbsp old bay seasoning

1/2 tsp mustard seed

1/4 tsp celery seed

1/2 – 1 tsp kosher salt

1 whole lemon, juiced

1/2 cup olive oil

2-3 tbsp unfiltered apple cider vinegar

couple shakes of red pepper flakes

2 pinches parsley flakes

2 cloves garlic, mashed and minced

1/2 medium sweet onion, cut into half moons

Fill a small pot halfway with tap water and add the old bay seasoning. Bring to a boil and add shrimp, cooking until pink – about 2 minutes. Dump your shrimp into a fine mesh strainer and rinse with cold water until no longer hot. (you are using the mesh strainer so that you don’t lose much of the old bay seasoning!)

Take your mustard seed, celery seed & the couple shakes of red pepper flakes and pulse them through a food mill or grinder  a couple of times just to break them up a bit and release their flavors. Add your salt, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and garlic, stirring well to combine. Give it a taste and add more salt or vinegar to get the desired tang and flavor you are looking for.

In a mason jar, put a layer of shrimp, then a layer of onions, and keep layering until you run out of shrimp and onions. Pour the marinade mixture over your shrimp and onions, top with a lid, and put in the fridge overnight to let all the flavors melt together.

Before serving, let the jar sit out for at least 30 minutes. This will let the olive oil easily mix back in with the vinegar and lemon juices. Right before eating, give the jar a good shake to get everything mixed back together. Enjoy as an appetizer, alongside a sandwich, add to pasta, quinoa, rice – whatever your heart desires! Consume within a few days.

Simple and tasty appetizer – GF Spicy Shrimp Cups

15 Oct

I love shrimp. And sushi. And cucumbers. And Sriracha hot sauce. Combine all those things and you have something FANTASTIC!!! I saw the idea for this appetizer over at Big Red Kitchen, where she puts everything and anything into jars. There are these little “grab a pint” mini meals to take on the go. She posted an option for spicy shrimp rolls. I drooled on the keyboard and wanted to eat the screen. I LOVE spicy shrimp rolls. When we go out for sushi, I get spicy tuna, spicy scallop, spicy lobster – you get the point. So I thought to myself, I’ve got to adapt this into an appetizer option for a larger crowd AND make sure it’s Gluten Free so my SIL can grub on it. Hence the cucumber “cups” – they are the perfect bite size option. They are a way healthier appetizer option since they are not fried and you are getting a veggie from the cukes and a nice bit of protein from the shrimp. I’m not going to lie. I could have eaten the whole tray of these by myself. And there was not one of these little cups left at the end of the night. They were being eaten like potato chips.

I ended up using 2 1/2 of the english cucumbers for my batch, so be sure to buy at least 3. Or buy 2, and then eat any leftover spicy shrimp mixture on a piece of bread. Or a cracker. Or just with a spoon shoving it straight into your pie hole. Whatever works for you!

After my shrimp mixture had sat in the fridge for an hour, there was what appeared to be a lot of liquid, like they had let a little more water out. So I put the mixture into a fine mesh colander and drained off the excess so I didn’t have soupy shrimp cups. This may not be an issue for you, but if it happens, you’ve just been given a solution!

Feel free to add more or less Sriracha to suit your tastes. I felt the heaping tablespoon was sufficient for the crowd I was feeding, but you might think it too spicy. Or not spicy enough!

While my adaptation was to make it an appetizer, this is also great as a lunch option for a couple of days, kind of like a shrimp salad but better. Healthier. I gave it a try as a twist on the lobster roll – whole wheat baguette, some baby spinach and arugula plus the spicy shrimp. It was a fantastic, healthy and filling lunch!

Enjoy!

Spicy Shrimp Cups

adapted from Big Red Kitchen

2-3 English cucumbers (long seedless cukes)

1 12oz bag frozen small shrimp – thawed and drained of excess water

3 tablespoons Hellman’s Olive Oil Mayo – see note

1 tablespoon Sriracha Hot Sauce

Black Sesame Seeds for garnish

Take your thawed small shrimp and add them to a food processor. Pulse a few times to chop up the shrimp.

Add chopped shrimp to a bowl along with the mayo and Sriracha. Stir to combine, refrigerate for 1 hour (or overnight).

Meanwhile, peel your cucumbers and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Using a melon baller, scoop out a portion of the seeded section, leaving a thin bit on the bottom to create a “cup”.

Add a scoop of the spicy shrimp mixture to each cup and top with sesame seeds for garnish. Keep chilled.

Note: Hellman’s mayonnaise is Gluten Free. If you are not concerned with the recipe being GF, feel free to use whatever you like. If you are following a GF diet and have other alternatives of GF mayo, you may substitute that for the Hellman’s Olive Oil mayo.