Author Bio: This is a guest post by Meredith K. on behalf of Alexia®. For more spring recipes and healthier sweet potato recipes, visit www.alexiafoods.com.
After hibernating with thick comfort foods and stick-to-your-ribs kind of meals all winter long, many people view spring as the perfect time to lighten up their eating habits. This doesn’t mean you’ll need to eat lettuce for every meal, however! Between fresh produce and gorgeous warm weather, spring makes it easy to lighten up your cooking while still enjoying what you eat.
Use the following simple tips as a guide to getting your eating habits on track this spring and to take advantage of all the season has to offer:
- Shop seasonally
Spring is one of the best seasons for fresh fruits and vegetables, so take advantage of foods like asparagus, broccoli, spring peas, cherries, and apricots when they’re at their ripest and most delicious.
Not only does shopping seasonally ensure that your kitchen is constantly stocked with fresh fruits and veggies, but it’s also an easy way to save money at the grocery store. Typically, prices are much lower on foods that are in season than ones that aren’t, so stick to seasonal produce if you’re watching your grocery budget.
- Use your grill
Just as you probably used your slow cooker all winter long, spring has its own unique cooking tool as well: the grill! Grilling is a wonderful way to eat healthier this spring without even realizing you’re doing it. Unlike food that you have to sauté or pan fry on the stove, food that you make on the grill often requires much less butter, vegetable oil and other high-fat ingredients for cooking. Instead, marinate fish, chicken or vegetables in olive oil, salt and pepper for light spring dinner options.
- Pay attention to side dishes
If your idea of a nourishing side dish is tearing open a bag of potato chips or loading up noodles and rice with butter, it may be time to rethink your side dish choices. Even if you have something healthy like salad or fish for dinner, pairing an unhealthy side with a healthy entrée can ruin a meal’s nutritional content. Look for ways to upgrade your typical sides; try serving sweet potato fries instead of loaded baked potatoes, roasted broccoli instead of broccoli with cheese sauce, or baked onion rings instead of anything deep fried.
Similarly, if you’re serving fries or other dip-able vegetable side dishes, make sure your dipping sauces aren’t ruining your meal. Barbecue and yogurt-based dipping sauces make good, low-sugar and low-fat options that still taste great.
Try out this recipe for grilled shrimp with homemade barbecue sauce the next time you’re looking for a light spring dinner. It’s full of spring flavors and good for you, too.
Grilled Shrimp with Homemade Barbecue Sauce
Cook Time: 37 minutes
- 16 large jumbo shrimp
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
Homemade Barbecue Sauce
- 1 slice bacon
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 cups ketchup
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika (or smoked paprika if available)
- Freshly ground pepper
Use a pair of scissors or a paring knife to slit the backs of the shrimp and remove the veins. Combine the shrimp and olive oil in a bowl and toss shrimp evenly to coat. Cover and keep refrigerated until you are ready to grill. While shrimp is refrigerating, prepare your homemade barbecue sauce (directions below).
Prior to heating, wipe down the grates of a large outdoor grill with an oiled paper towel to create a nonstick surface. Next, heat up the grill to medium-hot. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and place on the grill. Baste with the homemade barbecue sauce and grill for 3-4 minutes on each side. Brush with more sauce just before serving.
Homemade Barbecue Sauce Directions:
Wrap the bacon slice around the bunch of thyme and tie with kitchen twine so you have a nice bundle (eliminate if you are vegetarian). Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the bacon-wrapped thyme and cook slowly for 3-4 minutes to render the bacon fat and give the sauce a nice smoky taste. Add the onion and garlic and cook slowly without coloring for about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, give the sauce a stir and turn the heat down to low. Cook for 20 minutes to blend the flavors. Once the sauce is finished cooking, remove the bundle of thyme and discard. Take about 1-1/2 cups of the barbecue sauce and serve alongside the shrimp. Serve your shrimp with sweet potato fries to best bring out the barbecue sauce’s flavors.
Weekly Menu Plan:
Sunday: Taco Pie
Meatless Monday: Asparagus & Tarragon Soup with homemade bread
Tuesday: Broccoli Quiche with tomato salad
Wednesday: Hot & Sour Soup with egg rolls
Friday: Rissotto alla Milanese with Lemony Spinach
Saturday: Chicken & White Bean Enchiladas
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