One of the best summer dishes (or winter if you have access to good shrimp & fresh avocados) I know. It’s refreshing and delicious, and good for you. Avocado is part of an anti-inflammatory diet. This salad and the avocados in it are part of an anti-inflammatory diet that helps in combating chronic health problems and disease, keeping you looking and feeling good. Avocados are chock full of vital nutrients, and have wide-ranging health benefits that affect overall nutrition, cardiovascular health, anti-cancer effects, macular degeneration benefits, blood sugar stabilization, cholesterol reduction, anti-cataract formation, and weight management.
And the dandelion plant is one of the best things in the world to eat. Yes, it’s bitter but that bitterness goes really well with sweeter vegetables and fruits like sweet, fresh wild-caught shrimp (check the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch to find out which are the right ones to be and from where), avocado (a fruit), and a fruity, sweet-savory citrus dressing. In fact, oftentimes the more bitter the green, the better it is for you. Dandelion root is used to help detoxify the organs, and the greens are better for you than even kale! New studies have shown that dandelion greens may help process harmful toxins in water, making it clean and drinkable. Imagine what it does for your body! These greens are high in anti-oxidants, protein, calcium, and are an anti-inflammatory food. The greens themselves are 14% protein and contain all essential amino acids. It’s a complete protein. One chopped cup contains 1.5 grams of protein. Put them in your smoothie, eat them in this salad, drink the tea. You can harvest the greens on your own just make sure the soil is organic, if possible.
Having growing up on coastal SC, I love shrimp. I love shrimp with almost everything. Rich and buttery tasting, redolent of the sea, they are so good sauteed in garlic, olive oil, and hot pepper. And here there are perfect with one of my favorite fruits – avocado. The citrus dressing just melds these lovely foods together beautifully. And guess what? Shrimp are really good for you. Shrimp are an unusually concentrated source of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient called astaxanthin. “Astaxanthin is a carotenoid known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Release of inflammatory messaging molecules (like tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin 1B) is suppressed by astaxanthin, and so is unwanted oxidation of fats in immune cells. In animal studies, risk of colon cancer is lowered by intake of astaxanthin, and immune-related problems of diabetes are also reduced. It’s the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of astaxanthin that seems to explain these disease-related benefits. Since few commonly consumed fish (with the exception of salmon) can provide us such concentrated amounts of astaxanthin, shrimp may be making a unique health contribution in this way.” (from whfoods.com)
A mostly plant-based diet is best, so this is one of those dishes to make a couple of times a month as a treat. This dish serves a lot of people, so halve or quarter it to make it for less.
Shrimp & Avocado Salad with Dandelion Greens & Citrus Dressing
2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon (or grapefruit) juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons of olive oil or avocado oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup jicama sticks (3 by 1/2 inches)
3 ripe avocados, halved, peeled and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 big bunch of dandelion greens, or if you don’t have use fresh, organic arugula or spinach (dressed)
1. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the shrimp until loosely curled and just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Drain well; transfer to a large bowl and let cool slightly.
2. In a small bowl, combine the lemon (or grapefruit) and lime juices, vinegar, olive oil, and oregano and season with salt and pepper.
3. Add 2 tablespoons of the citrus dressing to the shrimp, toss well and season with salt and pepper. Season the jicama and avocado slices with salt and pepper. Dress the greens. Arrange on a platter, with the greens as the base, the onion, avocado and jicama. Spoon the remaining citrus dressing over the salad and top with the shrimp. In the summer, I like to use fresh dandelion greens. They have a nice bitterness that complements the sweetness of shrimp and avocado. Fresh cilantro and basil are nice additions. If tomatoes are in season, add this to the mix. And please use organic vegetables and fruits. Again, check the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch to find out which seafood is good to eat.
About the Author: Tania Van Pelt is the creator of Happiness Series. She is a writer and content creator, working in film, tv, and online. She wrote the popular lifestyle book "Ageless Diet," published in late 2015. And she is currently working on her next book. She also developed a sitcom pilot set in the restaurant business called "Employees Only TV" and is developing another web series comedy about Denver.