Healthy Shrimp and Grits – A Perfect Post SC Vacation Meal

Will I ever learn? Randy has figured out that we really need an in-between day between vacations and getting back to routine. I, on the other hand, would always stretch out vacation until the last possible minute. That’s all well and good, but as a mama that gets me in trouble for the following week. We had a perfectly perfect time down in South Carolina last week, but since we were up at 4am for our flight home (and thusly I napped all afternoon vs. running errands or doing laundry), I was and continue to be, all out of sorts and tired. Whew.

Many, many pictures and stories from the trip to come, but let’s start out with a guest post from my new friend Alisa from Southern Girl Eats Clean. Miss Alisa cleaned up a standard South Carolinian meal, shrimp and grits, for us today. It is so yummy and not nearly as bad for you as the traditional recipe. Instead, this one has veggies and garbanzo bean flour, making it gluten-free and relatively light.

Now, for my Yankee friends turning their nose up at grits, let me talk you back off the ledge. Think of grits as a mechanism to get other tasty flavors into your mouth. Typically, those flavors are of the cheese or cream variety, but Alisa’s recipe uses a blackening spice and rich broth. After eating our way through no less than six different restaurant versions last week, I can safely say this is a perfect recipe for everyday. Give it a whirl. I think you’ll be surprised.

Healthy Shrimp and Grits

Be sure to get good quality shrimp! Here in Milwaukee, I go to Empire Fish or the place in the Milwaukee Public Market. Shrimp can go bad fast, especially up here where we know it’s already been traveling for awhile. Fresh shrimp will make all the difference in preparing this meal.

*** Please note that I originally had an incorrect amount of polenta in the recipe. It has been fixed. One cup will make plenty!!!***

This classic Southern recipe is served throughout the Southeast.  Upscale restaurants in Charleston and Savannah serve this dish with each chef putting his or her own spin on this iconic meal.  For generations, shrimp and grits were served as a breakfast meal in the Charleston, South Carolina area.  Shrimp was plentiful in this area and grits were inexpensive.  It was important for the fishermen to make good use of the resources available to them.  So “shrimp and grits” were born on a fisherman’s table.

This is such a simple dish but, there are so many different variations of this recipe.  Most every version has at least one or two artery clogging fats like butter, half and half, bacon or cheese added to the grits. Very delicious and very unhealthy.

Once I became a clean eater and changed up my diet, I was determined to find a way to make a healthier version of this dish.  Shrimp and grits has been a favorite meal of mine for years and I just couldn’t give it up completely.  It took me a while to perfect the recipe, but I think I nailed it.  I added more veggies, left off the unhealthy fats, white flour, cream and bacon then replaced the white grits with polenta.

Veggies for Shrimp and Grits

This dish is gluten-free my friends and full of flavor.  Healthy, clean, real food doesn’t have to be boring and tasteless.  Give this recipe a try and see for yourself that it is possible to eat clean but still eat great tasting food.

Healthy Shrimp and Grits Recipe

Clean Eating Shrimp and Grits

Serves 4
Dietary Gluten Free
By author Alisa R


  • 2-3 tablespoons organic cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 shallots (finely sliced)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1/2 red, green, and yellow bell peppers (jullienned)
  • 1 cup fresh tomato, seeds removed (chopped)
  • 1-2 tablespoon blackening seasoning (see below)
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons gluten free Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons garbanzo bean flour
  • 2 tablespoons organic tomato paste
  • 1lb wild caught shrimp (peeled, deveined and tails removed)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup organic corn polenta
  • salt and pepper


1. In a large saute’ pan heat 1-2 Tbsp. of olive oil over medium heat.
2. Add 3 sliced shallots and 2-3 cloves of crushed garlic to pan and sauté until softened, 3-5 minutes. Do not allow the garlic to burn. You may add a tablespoon of chicken or vegetable broth to pan to prevent from sticking.
3. Add the red, green, and yellow peppers to pan and cook, stirring often until tender crisp. Approximately, 5-7 minutes.
4. Pour in 1 cup of chicken or vegetable broth. Add blackened seasoning, Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste, mix well and simmer for 3 minutes.
5. In a small bowl whisk together garbanzo flour and 1/2 cup of chicken or vegetable broth, pour into sauté pan with the vegetables, stir to mix well and let simmer until sauce is thickened.
6. Once the sauce has thickened, add the shrimp, chopped tomatoes and remaining ½ cup of chicken or vegetable broth. (Or only enough to bring to desired consistency.) Simmer until shrimp are cooked through, approximately 3-5 minutes, stirring often.
7. While shrimp is cooking, bring 3 cups of filtered water and ¼ - ½ tsp. of salt to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium/low and slowly stir in the polenta. Add a pinch of black pepper and 1 tsp. of garlic powder. Cook, stirring often until done. Approximately 4-5 minutes. The polenta will cook quickly. Do not allow polenta to sit or it will be too firm. Serve as soon as done.
8. Place the polenta in 4 shallow bowls and spoon shrimp mixture over the top.
Blackening Seasoning
9. Recipe for Blackened Seasoning is as follows: 1 T. each of garlic powder, onion powder and ground dried thyme. 1 ½ T. of paprika, 1 teaspoon each of cracked black pepper, dried basil and dried oregano. Then add 1 ¼ to 1 ½ teaspoons of cayenne, according to your taste. Mix well and store in an air tight container.


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