Please note that this post was created in partnership with Sea to Table months prior to them being reported of fraud and labor abuse in the industry. I do not support nor condone any company who preys on consumers’ that want to do good by promoting false transparency and sustainability. When this sort of thing happens, it harms the entire movement; it negatively impacts the companies who are actually being transparent and providing sustainable options because they’re painted with the same brush.
This is a very unfortunate situation, but please know that there are brands out there you CAN still trust.
We all love takeout—especially Chinese takeout. It’s fabulous to curl up with on a rainy night and it’s the perfect thing to dig into upon arriving home after a long week that’s left you exhausted and unwilling to cook.
But I think we can all agree that it’s a treat. It’s a sometimes thing.
Throughout the week, when we’re doing our best to bring wholesome and nutritious meals to our tables, Chinese takeout isn’t ideal; neither are the copycat recipes out there that add 1/2 cup of ketchup and 1 cup of sugar to their sauces. (Whut.)
That just isn’t necessary, and this Healthy Sweet and Sour Shrimp tossed with crunchy veggies and toasted cashews is lip-smackin’ proof.
What makes this healthier.
Replace the ketchup. Unless you’ve got some homespun ketchup on hand—one that isn’t 25% sugar—cross ketchup off the list and replace it with a plain tomato sauce. (And I mean plain; don’t use any basil-infused pasta sauces or you’ll end up with a different flavor profile.)
Pass on refined sugar. Honey and maple syrup are my go-to’s when it comes to substituting sugar. In this recipe, I went for honey since honey tends to be paired with many East and Southeast Asian-influenced flavors anyway—natural fit! You could also use unrefined sugars, like coconut sugar or sucanat.
Real pineapple matters. A lot of sweet and sour recipes call for canned pineapple. I have nothing against canned goods, but there have been times when I’ve purchased canned pineapple only to find white, flavorless chunks of fruit sitting in watered down juice, and that adds nothing to a dish like this. Grab yourself some legit pineapple and a bottle of pineapple juice, and you’re set.
Shrimp! America’s favorite seafood. Even those (savages) that have an aversion to seafood admit shrimp is an exception. Sadly, as a result, shrimp is one of the least sustainable seafood options out there.
But this doesn’t mean you have to stop eating it. It’s all about finding a trusting source.
If you make this dish, snap a photo and tag me on the Insta @killing__thyme! I love seeing your creations.
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Healthy Sweet and Sour Shrimp
This 30-minute Healthy Sweet and Sour Shrimp is tossed with crunchy bell peppers, carrots, sweet pineapples, scallions, and toasted cashews for a wholesome weeknight meal.
- 10 oz shrimp, peeled and deveined
- kosher salt and cracked black pepper
Sweet and Sour Sauce.
- 1/4 cup pineapple juice
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup plain tomato sauce or ketchup (preferably homemade ketchup to cut down on the sugar)
- 1 TBSP chili sauce (sambal oelek)
- 3 TBSP honey can use unrefined sugar instead, if preferred
- 1 TBSP tamari or low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup cold water + 2 TBSP corn starch if you want to thicken the sauce
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 red bell pepper, cored and sliced into thin wedges you can also cube the peppers, it's all in your own preference.
- 1 large carrot thinly sliced
- 4 scallions, green parts cut into large pieces; thinly slice the white ends and set aside for garnish
- 1 heaping cup cubed fresh pineapple
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped cashews, toasted
- sesame seeds
- Thinly sliced scallions (reserved white parts)
- Rice or quinoa
Start preparing your rice or quinoa as per the package's directions. If making quinoa, I suggest to cook it in vegetable broth for extra flavor <3
Pat your shrimp, then dry and season with salt and pepper; set aside.
Sweet and Sour Sauce.
Whisk all of the ingredients for the sauce together until well blended; set aside.
Heat oil in a large saucepan or wok over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger, and simmer until aromatic—about 1-2 minutes. Don't brown the garlic.
Add the bell pepper, carrots, and scallions. Sauté until tender—about 2-3 minutes. Add the pineapple chunks and the sweet and sour sauce. Let it simmer for a few minutes as the sauce thickens a bit. If you want a thicker sauce (I always do), mix 1/4 cup of cold water with 1 TBSP of corn starch in a small bowl. Mix until corn starch is completely dissolved, and slowly add it to the simmering liquid, stirring constantly, until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.
Bring the heat to medium-low. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Shrimp cooks quickly, so you'll only need to let it simmer for about 2 minutes until it's cooked through. Once the shrimp is opaque, it's ready. Don't overcook, or the shrimp will be rubbery.
Remove from heat and toss in the toasted cashews (see notes for toasting instructions).
Serve over rice or quinoa, and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.
To toast cashews, heat a dry saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the cashews to the pan and give it a shake. Standby to ensure the cashews don't burn. Shake and stir them every 15-20 seconds. Once they're golden brown, remove from heat. This should only take a few minutes. Never leave them unattended.
Please note: If you end up using shrimp you have to peel and clean yourself, prep time may be longer.