We all know that if you want to make someone happy, making their favorite food is a good place to start. If I want to do something special for my husband I usually make him my “famous” fish tacos with mango salsa, but last night I felt like doing something different. We discovered ceviche at the Solana Beach Farmer’s Market and it was so fresh and tasty that we went several times a month just to get it. Then, on our honeymoon to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, we tried different versions of ceviche at any place that had it on the menu. It’s a healthy, fresh, and festive dish. I usually wouldn’t think to do this in the middle of winter, but apparently that season doesn’t exist anymore in California; it’s been in the high 70’s for weeks. It was a perfect surprise for him in the middle of his busy work week, and needless to say I got extra attention and compliments last night ;)
Now, let’s talk for a second about how I spent an HOUR AND A HALF deveining 2 pounds of shrimp, shall we? I made the *awful* decision to save myself $4 at the market by getting the shrimp in their shells and not cleaned. I figured I’d save a little money! Now, I’ve done this to myself before, but we eat shrimp juuust rarely enough that I forget every. single. time. I HATE this job. It’s yucky and tedious. I told my husband I had spent an hour and a half just working on cleaning the shrimp and he asked if it was worth it. My response: “Is my time worth more than 4 dollars an hour?”. Yes, yes it is. You guys, don’t do this. Buy your shrimp cleaned and ready to go and then sit back, pour yourself a glass of wine, and relax during the time you saved. Unless of course you are a professional chef or you compete in shrimp cleaning competitions, which in that case be my guest.
If you don’t make my same mistake though, this recipe is easy! It’s really great for parties as well as light lunches and dinners. For the best results, let the shrimp and veggies marinate in the citrus for several hours in your fridge before serving. Here goes (originally from the book Practical Paleo):
1 lb cooked, deveined, peeled wild shrimp (cooled)
1/4 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/4 yellow or orange bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 jalapeño pepper, finely diced (with seeds and white ribs removed)
1/4 cup diced jicama
1/4 cup diced cucumber (skin-on)
1 tablespoon shallot, finely diced
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cups of sliced cucumber, for dipping, or gluten-free chips of your choice
Chop the cooked, cooled shrimp into 1/4-1/2-inch pieces. Combine red bell pepper, orange/yellow bell pepper, jalapeño, jicama, cucumber, shallot, cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, and lemon juice in large bowl.
Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving with cucumber slices and/or chips
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Makes about 4 cups
What do these Ingredients do for you?? Well this recipe is quite the little health cocktail. Read on :)
They contain plenty of vitamin C, which powers up your immune system and keeps skin youthful. The highest amount of Vitamin C in a bell pepper is concentrated in the red variety.
Red bell peppers contain several phytochemicals and carotenoids, particularly beta-carotene, which lavish you with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
The capsaicin in bell peppers has multiple health benefits. Studies show that it reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol, controls diabetes, brings relief from pain and eases inflammation.
The sulfur content in bell peppers makes them play a protective role in certain types of cancers.
The bell pepper is a good source of Vitamin E, which is known to play a key role in keeping skin and hair looking youthful.
Bell peppers also contain vitamin B6, which is essential for the health of the nervous system and helps renew cells.
Certain enzymes in bell peppers, such as lutein, protect the eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration later in life.
Shrimp (a true beauty food):
Though I would keep the amount of shrimp you eat to a minimum, having them occasionally as a treat has great health and beauty benefits.
Shrimp contain astaxanthin, a carotenoid that gives them their pink color and that can act as a potent antioxidant and protect the skin from premature aging. Also the omega-3 fatty acids in shrimp provide antioxidant protection. The zinc shrimp boast plays an important role in the production of new cells (including hair cells and skin cells). It also helps maintain the oil-secreting glands on the scalp that keep hair shiny.
Loaded with protein, vitamin D, vitamin B3, and zinc, shrimp are an excellent, carbohydrate-free food for anyone determined to shed off pounds. Zinc supplementation of zinc deficient subjects has been shown to increase the levels of circulating leptin. Leptin is a hormone that plays a key role in regulating the body’s energy expenditure, fat storage, and appetite. Insufficient leptin levels are believed to be the primary cause of food cravings, overeating, and obsession with food. The iodine in shrimp is good for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland which controls the basal metabolic rate, or the rate at which the body consumes energy at rest. Iodine deficiency can result in sluggish thyroid activity which in turn can lead to weight gain or hinder weight loss.
Keep you hydrated. If you are too busy to drink enough water, munch on the cool cucumber, which is 96 percent water. It will cheerfully compensate!
Fight heat, both inside and out. Eat cucumber, and your body gets relief from heartburn. Apply cucumber on your skin, and you get relief from sunburn.
Flush out toxins. All that water in cucumber acts as a virtual broom, sweeping waste products out of your system. With regular use, cucumber is known to dissolve kidney stones.
Lavish you with vitamins. A B and C, which boost immunity, give you energy, and keep you radiant. Give it more power by juicing cucumber with carrot and spinach.
Supply skin-friendly minerals: magnesium, potassium, silicon. That’s why cucumber-based treatments abound in spas.
Cut cancer. Cut down your risk of several cancers by including cucumber in your diet. Several studies show its cancer-fighting potential.
Stabilize blood pressure. Patients of blood pressure, both high and low, often find that eating cucumber brings relief.
Helps digestion. Chewing cucumber gives the jaws a good workout, and the fiber in it is great for digestion.
Smooths hair and nails. Silica, the wonder mineral in cucumber makes your hair and nails stronger and shinier.
Soothes muscle and joint pain. All those vitamins and minerals in cucumber make it a powerful enemy of muscle and joint pain.
Keep kidneys in shape. Cucumber lowers uric acid levels in your system, keeping the kidneys happy.
Good for diabetics. Patients of diabetes can enjoy cucumber while also reaping its health benefits: cucumber contains a hormone needed by the cells of the pancreas for producing insulin.
Reduces cholesterol. A compound called sterols in cucumber helps reduce bad cholesterol.
Olive Oil (unheated):
Cancer: The phytonutrient in olive oil, oleocanthal, mimics the effect of ibuprofen in reducing inflammation, which can decrease the risk of breast cancer and its recurrence. Squalene and lignans are among the other olive oil components being studied for their possible effects on cancer.
Heart Disease: Olive oil helps lower levels of blood cholesterol leading to heart disease.
Oxidative Stress: Olive oil is rich in antioxidants, especially vitamin E, long thought to minimize cancer risk. Among plant oils, olive oil is the highest in monounsaturated fat, which doesn’t oxidize in the body, and it’s low in polyunsaturated fat, the kind that does oxidize.
Blood Pressure: Recent studies indicate that regular consumption of olive oil can help decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Diabetes: It has been demonstrated that a diet that is rich in olive oil, low in saturated fats, moderately rich in carbohydrates and soluble fiber from fruit, vegetables, pulses and grains is the most effective approach for diabetics. It helps lower “bad” low-density lipoproteins while improving blood sugar control and enhances insulin sensitivity.
Obesity: Although high in calories, olive oil has shown to help reduce levels of obesity.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Although the reasons are still not fully clear, recent studies have proved that people with diets containing high levels of olive oil are less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoporosis: A high consumption of olive oil appears to improve bone mineralization and calcification. It helps calcium absorption and so plays an important role in aiding sufferers and in preventing the onset of Osteoporosis.
Lemon and Limes:
Good for the digestive system: Lemon and lime juice behave in a similar way to our natural digestive enzymes, which means that they can help us digest our food as well as relieve us from uncomfortable wind and bloating. Try adding lemon or lime juice to a warm glass of water when you have heartburn or indigestion.
Help protect against cancer: Lemons and limes contain compounds called limonins, which research shows can help to fight cancers of the mouth, skin, lungs, breast and stomach. There is also a connection between limonins and fighting colorectal cancers.
Antibiotic and antiseptic properties: Given that lemons and limes are very acidic, this makes them ideal for fighting certain infections. During a cholera epidemic in West Africa, it was discovered that drinking lime juice appeared to protect citizens against contracting cholera bacteria. Further studies supported that lime juice did indeed play a role in whether people would contract cholera. It is thought that this fascinating health benefit comes from flavonoids called flavonol glycosides.
Good for cardiovascular health: Vitamin C can help to protect the body against free radicals, which are capable of making cholesterol dangerously more likely to build up and line the walls of your arteries. Lemons and limes happen to contain a lot of vitamin C, so they will make you less likely to develop heart disease or diabetes (or slow the progression of either disease if you already suffer from it).
Protect against arthritis: Free radicals that find their way into the body can also end up causing painful inflammation. Since vitamin C helps to fight these free radicals, eating lemons and limes may help to reduce inflammation in arthritic people (whether that arthritis is rheumatoid or osteoarthritis). Some studies also suggest that those who eat the least vitamin C are most likely to develop some form of arthritis, so if you don’t have arthritis then it is worth eating plenty of lemons and limes (among other fruits rich in vitamin C) to help guard against the development of arthritis.
Lemon juice can help to prevent (and get rid of) kidney stones: The American Urological Association has conducted research that proves lemon juice is capable of breaking down or preventing kidney stones. This is because lemon juice leads to the production of urinary citrate, which in turn prevents the formation of crystals.
Help with weight loss: Lemons and limes contain no fat, no cholesterol, and around a mere twenty calories each. This makes them idea fruits to snack on (if you like sour treats), and ideal to include as part of a meal while dieting. Further, adding lemon or lime to water can help to discourage you from the drinking sodas that contain huge amounts of sugar and calories.
Help maintain healthy blood pressure: It has been speculated that the potassium in lemons and limes can help to keep your blood pressure within healthy limits.
Help to strengthen your immune system: The vitamin C in lemons and limes also aids in developing a stronger immune system. This means that lemons and limes will help prevent you from falling ill as a result of viral and bacterial infections.
I hope you enjoy this recipe! As you can see there are TONS of health benefits from the ingredients that make up this lovely dish. Happy Wellness Wednesday!
The most indispensable ingredient of all good home cooking: love for those you are cooking for.” -Sophia Loren