Vail Today: Make a high-protein snack for your football crowd (video) | VailDaily.com

Vail Today: Make a high-protein snack for your football crowd (video)

Tracy Miller
Guest columnist

If you're looking for a simple yet unique appetizer, these shrimp bites may be your next favorite. Their texture makes you want to just keep popping them in your mouth. A creamy sweetness from the blended shrimp and the explosion of the corn gives you a festive mouth sensation, and then the cornmeal lends a sweet, dry crunch. Pair it with a bold, spicy sauce, and you'll have sweet and spicy balanced for fun and flavor.

Shrimp is a great source of protein and low calorie, as well. Buying wild-caught shrimp is the best way to go, as you will get a product that cooks well and gives you that delicate taste of the sea. I prefer the frozen selection we so often find here in Colorado. Shrimp are easy because they thaw quickly by placing them in cold water, or if time permits, place the bag of shrimp in the refrigerator overnight. Most shrimp is "flash frozen," so that helps them keep their fresh flavor.

In food-industry terms, according to Better Homes and Gardens, flash freezing (also known as blast freezing) refers to freezing foods at extremely low temperatures with cold, circulating air. This quick-chill method keeps ice crystals small, which prevents moisture loss in the food when it thaws.

To flash freeze the shrimp bites, cook them and then place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet far enough apart that they are not touching and freeze until solid — about an hour. Once frozen, package them in an airtight container. Flash freezing is a great way to reduce food waste and have something homemade ready to be heated up.

Most vegetables you find in the frozen section of the grocery store are flash frozen, as well. This is one of the best ways to preserve the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables. Enjoying your vegetables from the frozen section can help to increase your veggie intake, since they are so easy to store and then readily available to cook.

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"Fruits and vegetables chosen for freezing tend to be processed at their peak ripeness, a time when — as a general rule — they are most nutrient-packed," said Gene Lester, Ph.D., a plant physiologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Center in Weslaco, Texas.

Sweet corn and shrimp bites

(Makes 25 pieces.)

1 pound raw shrimp, medium size

2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 cups frozen corn

1/2 cup red pepper, diced

2 tablespoons basil, minced

3/4 cup cornmeal, divided

Vegetable oil

1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

3 chipotles in adobo, blended or chopped

Clean and peel the shrimp. Place raw shrimp and heavy cream in a food processor, and process until it becomes a mash. Using a spoon or your hands, mix in corn, red pepper, basil and 1/2 cup cornmeal. Place remaining cornmeal on a plate.

Heat a nonstick skillet to medium-high heat. Using about 1 tablespoon of the shrimp mixture, form a ball and roll it in the extra cornmeal. Repeat until done.

Place balls in a single layer into the hot skillet, and cook about 5 minutes, turning as necessary. Mix sour cream and chipotles together, and serve as a dipping sauce for shrimp.

Tracy Miller adds fruits and vegetables to all meals. You can contact her at tracy@colorfulcooking.com or log onto colorfulcooking.com for healthy recipes.

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