Aside from the calling to satisfy a sweet tooth, comfort foods are the single biggest hurdle standing in our (the AthleticFoodie family's) way of a consistently healthy diet. Especially during these cold winter months, when a hearty, familiar meal that's been tested and approved by generations beckons. There is nothing quite like a big bowl of mac 'n' cheese, shrimp and grits, grilled cheese, fried chicken, or lasagna. Sadly, they're generally high in fat, salt, and refined white sugars and flours. What's a healthy eater to do? Get creative in the kitchen.
In need of some comfort food ourselves this past, chilly weekend, we took on the challenge of refining one of our favorites, shrimp and grits. Generally packed with flavor, we knew there was an alternate way to prepare this beloved dish without all the extra dairy, fat, and salt. The result is a non-traditional take that holds onto the delicious cajun flavors and cozy textures we love, but without all the sausage, cream, and cheese that wreak havoc on our healthy diet.
Cook up a batch while you're hiding from the cold this week, and head over to our Facebook page to let us know how you balance comfort cravings with your healthy diet.
Lighter Homestyle Shrimp & Grits
- 2 cups rice milk (original flavor)
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups stone ground grits
- 1 tbs Earth Balance Butter alternative
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 3 tbs Earth Balance butter alternative
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
- 1 1/2 tbs maple syrup
- 2 tbs crushed garlic
- 3-5 diced red & orange bell peppers (or 1 large)
- 3/4 cup chopped green onion
- cajun seasoning
- 1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp
- pinch salt and pepper to taste
- In a medium pot, bring rice milk and water to a boil.
- Slowly whisk in the grits, reduce to a simmer, and cook to thicken, stirring occasionally while you prepare the shrimp & sauce. (Add water in small amounts if your grits get too thick.)
- Rinse and pat dry the shrimp. Rub both sides with cajun seasoning and set aside.
- Add 1 tbs of butter alternative to a large skillet and melt over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cook, turning once, about 2 minutes until cooked through. Remove from skillet and set aside.
- Reduce heat to medium, add remaining butter alternative, olive oil, garlic, peppers, and green onion to skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally until peppers are tender, about 3-4 minutes.
- Raise heat to high and add wine and chicken broth, scraping the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon. Cook to reduce sauce by half, about 3 minutes.
- While sauce reduces, add 1 tbs butter alternative and garlic powder to cooked grits. Stir to evenly incorporate.
- Once reduced, add maple syrup, pinch salt, and pepper to sauce. Cook 1 minute.
- Divide grits between 4 bowls, cover with sauce, and top with a pile of shrimp. Garnish with any remaining green onion slices, and serve.