The Power of Shrimp

The Power of Shrimp
By Johnathan Zamora

Incorporating fish and seafood into your daily eating plan is a great way to add a lean protein source that provides great nutritional benefit to your body – the protein helps repair and build lean muscle and can be a more sensible alternative to high fat meats.  This week, I will be using shrimp in this quick make-ahead wrap that is a perfect nutrient packed lunch. First, let’s look at how eating shrimp can help you build a lean body.

Shrimp are classified as shellfish – a crustacean that is available year-round in a variety of forms.  You can find it in your local supermarket canned, fresh and frozen.  Shrimp is a great source of the heart healthy omega-3 fatty acid, known for its anti-inflammatory properties as well as helping keep your arteries clear of plaque build-up.  In fact, one four-ounce serving of shrimp provides approximately 14% of the daily need of omega-3 fats.  Researchers from the University Athens, Greece found that eating approximately 10 ounces of shrimp per week resulted in a lower resting heart rate, an important indicator of overall heart health. 

Fresh shrimp is a great way to ensure high quality, although this can be more costly.  If you’re using fresh shrimp for this recipe, be sure to eat it within 24 hours of purchasing – as fresh shrimp is highly perishable.

Frozen shrimp is a more economical way to get quality shrimp anytime.  Try to avoid frozen varieties that have been previously peeled or de-veined, as this can result in a decrease in flavor and quality of the cooked product.  The shells help to protect the flesh and will also maximize flavor.
Fit Chef’s Tip: To gauge freshness and quality, your shrimp should smell like ocean water – not like fish.  If you notice a fishy smell, throw it out – it’s better to be safe than sorry

Shrimp are sold by count (number of shrimp per pound), instead of by weight.  There are several size classifications:

–   Less than 20 per lb. = Jumbo
–   20-30 per lb. = Large
–   30-40 per lb. = Medium
–   More than 40 per lb. = Small
For your reference: 1 pound of frozen shrimp in shells = ½ pound edible product after peeling.

There are several different cooking methods for shrimp with boiling, grilling and steaming being among the most common.  For maximum freshness, I recommend boiling shrimp – the steps below illustrate how to do it:
– In a large stockpot, place 1 pound of shrimp in rapidly boiling water.  Add 3 tsp. of salt to the water to help speed the boiling time.
– Reduce the heat, cover the pot and return to a boil.  Let the shrimp simmer until it has lost it’s glossy appearance and is opaque in the center (cut to test doneness)
– Jumbo shrimp take about 7-8 minutes, large shrimp cook in about 5-7 minutes and medium size shrimp are cooked in 3-4 minutes.  The size of the shrimp is printed on the bag.
– Do not let the cooked shrimp cool in the cooking liquid.  I recommend you have a large bowl of ice water on hand for after the shrimp is cooked.  Plunging the cooked shrimp in water will stop the cooking process and you’ll avoid a tough, rubber-like texture that is common with overcooked seafood.

Fit Chef’s Tip: If cooking shrimp intimidates you – or you’re short on time, buy a shrimp cocktail ring from the supermarket and use the prepared shrimp for this recipe

*Food Safety Note: If the safety of shrimp concerns you given the recent oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, be sure to buy farm-raised shrimp.  You can find the stamp of farm-raised shrimp printed on the bag label or ask the attendant at the seafood counter which shrimp are farm-raised.  These shrimp are harvested according to strict government guidelines and the farms are regularly inspected by authorized officials.  In addition, farm-raised shrimp have been shown to contain less mercury than fresh shrimp, making it a healthy alternative.

California Shrimp Salad Wrap

Makes: 2 Wraps


10 oz.  Shrimp, boiled, peeled, de-veined and chopped
2 Tbs.  Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp.  Old Bay seafood seasoning
2 cups  mixed field greens
2 ea.  Plum tomatoes, sliced
1 ea.  Avocado, halved & sliced
2 each  Low-fat, Whole Wheat wraps

Method of Preparation:

1. In a medium glass bowl, combine the first three ingredients and mix well.
2. On each wrap, place 1 cup of mixed greens, then top with ½ of the shrimp mixture and add 1 sliced tomato and ½ of the sliced avocado on top.
3. Fold the wrap tightly and serve with bell pepper strips and 1/4 cup hummus for a complete well rounded meal.

Johnathan Zamora
The Fit Chef

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2 Responses for The Power of Shrimp

  1. Shawn


    October 17, 2010 7:39 pm

    Is there a good alternative for fresh avocado? I have an allergy to it (not a serious, life threatening one, but an irritating one nonetheless).

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