Sometimes, you just need comfort food. What if we told you that you could still enjoy these meals and stay healthy? You’re in luck!

Shrimp and grits is a quintessential Southern dish that’s got a lot of potential to be healthy. The two main parts of the meal, the grits and the shrimp, are both low in fat and calories.

The downfall of this dish is it’s often loaded with butter, cheese, and other fattening ingredients. That’s why we’re exploring ways to unlock shrimp and grits’ healthy potential.

Flavorful, Healthy Grits

On their own, grits aren’t terrible for you. One cup of cooked grits is 182 calories and only one gram of fat. While it’s a good start, grits alone can be rather tasteless. Much of their flavor comes from stirred-in cheese, butter, and dairy.

One way to keep some of the flavor of the traditional recipe, while cutting the calories and fat, is to use low-sodium chicken broth instead of water. It may seem odd to replace water with something that has calories, but the stock imparts a lot of taste. So much so, you don’t need to use as much cheese, butter, or dairy when you’re cooking.

If you feel the grits need more flavor or want them to be creamier, sparingly add in butter and cheese. Make sure to taste the grits as you cook them to avoid adding too much of these ingredients. You can also use reduced fat cream cheese as an alternative to both the butter and cheese, though the dish will taste different.

3 Ways to Make Shrimp Lighter

As for the seafood portion of the meal, there are three ways to cook healthier shrimp.

One way is to sear the shrimp instead of sauté them. In this instance, you would still use oil in the pan, but you’re using less of it and cooking at higher heat. The only drawback of this technique is that you risk overcooking the shrimp. If you do sear the shrimp, make sure to be attentive and flip them when their sides begin to turn pink. Leaving them in the pan too long leads to chewy, overdone shrimp.

Broiling the shrimp also doesn’t require as much fast as sautéing to get the job done. Like searing, broiling introduces your ingredients to extreme heat. Unlike searing, this is done in the oven, not on a stovetop. If you’re going to broil the shrimp, watch them carefully (or follow a recipe), because broiled shrimp can go from done to burnt relatively fast.

Finally, another healthy way to prepare shrimp is by grilling them. Grilling is great if you’re trying to be healthier because any fat or grease drips away from the protein during the process. The one problem with cooking shrimp on the grill is that most shrimp are small enough to fall through the grates. You can get around this issue by using a grill pan or skewers. Depending on the time and equipment available to you, any of these methods are viable alternatives to sautéing shrimp.

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Healthy Shrimp and Grits Recipe

For the Grits

  • 3 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup of plain uncooked grits
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp of butter

For the Shrimp

  • 1 lb of peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 4 tsp of paprika
  • 4 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp of pepper
  • 4 tsp of cayenne powder
  • 2 tsp of garlic powder
  • Wooden grilling skewers (each should fit 3-4 shrimp)

Directions

  1. Soak the wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes. (This helps prevent wooden skewers from burning on the grill.).
  2. Season the shrimp with the paprika, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder.
  3. Skewer the shrimp and set the skewers aside.
  4. Turn the grill to high heat and allow it to get up to at least 400°F.
  5. Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large pot on a stovetop .
  6. Stir in the grits, mixing regularly.
  7. Cook the grits for 10 minutes or until the they reach your preferred thickness.
  8. Mix in the butter and cheddar cheese, and stir until fully melted.
  9. Set the grits aside, but keep them warm.
  10. Place the skewers on the grill, flipping them after 4 minutes or when the grilled-side of the shrimp turns pink.
  11. Cook the shrimp for 4 more minutes, and then remove the skewers from the grill.
  12. Spoon the grits into a bowl.
  13. Remove the shrimp from the skewers, and add them to the bowl.
  14. Serve!