Popcorn shrimp is one of the most delicious appetizers, but between the breading and grease, the tiny treat isn’t that great for you. With a few tweaks, though, it can be. Ryan Carter, founder of Live Vitae, a London-based resource for personal training and health coaching, recently shared his recipe for healthy popcorn shrimp, and the best part is that it only calls for four ingredients.
Carter says he created a recipe for healthy popcorn shrimp because he wanted wheat-free version that wasn’t cooked in inflammatory oils. All you’ll need is an egg, coconut oil, unsweetened desiccated coconut, and some frozen shrimp.
Frozen seafood is a great option because it’s cheaper, has a longer shelf life, and it’s easier to find than fresh shrimp, says Carter. Whether it’s fresh or frozen, shrimp is full of protein. A 100 gram serving of shrimp (about 1/2 cup) contains about 26 grams of protein, while the same-size serving of chicken breast only yields 20 grams. Shrimp is a low-mercury fish, meaning it’s a great way to get more fish in your diet without spiking your mercury levels. Seafood Watch, an organization that helps you choose seafood that’s fished or farmed in ways that have less impact on the environment, offers eight recommendations for shrimp.
While most popcorn shrimp recipes rely on flour or breadcrumbs to give you that crunch, this recipe uses desiccated coconut, shredded coconut’s slightly drier cousin, which provides both flavor and texture.
“The desiccated coconut used goes a lovely golden color and if you cook with the coconut oil, it makes you imagine sitting on a beach by a shack and having a lunch on a tropical island,” says Carter. “Just make sure you keep the cooking oil not too hot, but just high enough to cook the shrimp.”
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Healthy popcorn shrimp
Large handful of shrimp, peeled and deveined, approximately 250 grams
1/2 cup coconut oil, or enough to fill 1/4 inch on your pan of choice
1/2 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
1. Add the coconut oil to a pan with high sides, and heat to a medium-high heat, making sure the oil doesn’t begin to smoke.
2. Beat the egg in a bowl. Set aside.
3. Add the coconut to a separate bowl. Have a plate lined with a paper towel or clean dish cloth ready for the cooked shrimp.
4. Dip one or two shrimp at a time into the beaten egg.
5. Then, dip the shrimp in the desiccated coconut. Make sure the shrimp is well-coated.
6. Carefully place in the hot coconut oil. Cook until one side is golden, approximately 2 to 3 mins.
7. Turn over and repeat another 2 to 3 mins. Remove with tongs or spatula and place on the lined plate.
8. Serve with anything you wish, like avocado mayo, salsa, or guacamole.
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