Stop ignoring this lean, nutrient-packed protein source, which is easier to snack on—or make into a meal—than you think. These easy recipes prove it.
Macey Hall 1 / 7
<p>Maybe you’ve been avoiding shrimp in the kitchen, and we get it. With their veins and shells, those little buggers can be pretty damn intimidating.</p>
<p>But here’s the thing: if you buy the right type, this <a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/topics/protein-foods">protein-packed</a> seafood (21 grams per serving) actually cooks quickly—and preparation requires very little technique or skill. “Shrimp offers heart-healthy omegas, B12, and selenium, an antioxidant that boosts immunity,” says <a href="http://www.yourhealthiestyou.com/">Robyn Youkilis</a>, nutritionist and <a href="http://healthycookingcamp.com/">healthy cooking expert</a>. “Plus it helps protect against heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.”</p>
<p>So what should you buy? Frozen or fresh varieties work equally well, says Youkilis, but if you’re buying frozen, look for packages labeled “flash-frozen,” which will taste fresher once thawed. Simply place those little guys in a bowl of cold water to defrost, then remove that little dark vein before cooking—digging in with a little paring knife should do the trick.</p>
<p>Oh, and one last piece of good news: Unlike other types of fish or seafood, shellfish has little-to-no mercury, meaning it can be consumed up to three times a week. Ready to get started? Here are six easy ways to work shrimp into your diet.</p>
<p><a href="http://http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/what-to-eat/protein-power-ho... also: Protein Power – Salmon>></strong></em></a></p>
1. Shrimp Cocktail
Cold shrimp with cocktail sauce is more than a party hors d’oeuvre—it also makes for a quick and easy protein-packed snack. Take the easy route and use frozen shrimp for cocktails. To prepare, peel the shell off from the inside curve, leaving the tail intact. Serve with a simple cocktail sauce, made with 1 cup chili sauce (like Heinz), ½ cup prepared horseradish, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, and a little ground black pepper.
2. Shrimp Salad
<p>Want a meal that doesn’t even require you to turn on the oven? Try a hearty shrimp salad. Here's one we love: Start by cooking 4 ounces of bacon in a large pan, then add deveined shrimp. Season with salt and pepper, and cook for 5 more minutes, until shrimp is opaque. Transfer bacon and shrimp to a serving bowl, and add a 15-ounce can of drained and rinsed cannellini beans (they’ll pack even more protein into your meal). Mix all ingredients together, then serve over fresh spinach or arugula, topped with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.</p>
<p><a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/what-to-eat/make-a-mayo-free-shrimp... also: Mayo-Free Shrimp Salad Recipe>> </strong></em></a></p>
3. Coconut-Ginger Shrimp Stir Fry
Next time you’re making stir-fry for dinner, simply sub in fully-cooked shrimp for your typical chicken, and skip the store-bought sauce in favor of this healthy homemade version. Just combine the following ingredients to give your dish a coconut-ginger kick: ½ teaspoon minced ginger, 1 minced garlic glove, 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce, 2 teaspoons lower-sodium soy sauce, 1 teaspoon red curry paste, and 2 tablespoons light coconut milk.
4. Old Bay Shrimp
For an impressive but safe shrimp marinade—you really can’t mess this one up—Youkilis recommends olive oil, Old Bay seasoning, red pepper flakes, and a ton of parsley or cilantro. Just rub it on your shrimp before grilling. (FYI: This is one recipe where it’s okay to be as heavy-handed with the ingredients as you want.) Make it a meal by adding a nutrient-packed side, like broccoli, green beans, or asparagus.
For how gourmet it tastes, roasting shrimp is a surprisingly simple cooking method. It caramelizes the shrimp, intensifying their flavors and bringing out a natural sweetness. Impress your girlfriend by tossing shrimp in an olive oil and salt mixture, putting them in the oven at 400 degrees for six minutes, and then serving over whole-wheat pasta. That’s it. You’re done. (But if you want to go all out, add roasted peppers or tomatoes to the mix as well.)