IN THE KITCHEN WITH CARLA: Sensational shrimp, a spicy hot dish that’ll keep you cool

Tasty dishes that cool you down and cooking methods that won’t heat you up are my trick for putting dinner on the table these hot summer evenings. Spicy shrimp tacos with citrus slaw are among my favorites, starting with the magic of quick-cooking shrimp.

Spicy foods actually help keep you cool – think the spice-rich cuisines of Africa, India and the Caribbean. With a nice kick from a homemade spice blend and just a few minutes in a hot skillet, you’re ready to tuck these beauties into tortillas before you have time to feel the stove’s heat.

Save room for the creamy fruit ending to this deliciously healthy, cool-down dinner!

In the kitchen with Carla

Healthy cooking with a splash of soul

Spicy shrimp tacos with citrus slaw

Makes 4 servings

Ready-to-peel varieties are quick-to-the-pan because they’re already deveined and the peels slip right off. Rubbing oil right on the shrimp instead of putting it in the skillet lets you cook with less oil. Sub your favorite seafood fillets for the shrimp, if you prefer.

Citrus slaw

Refreshing, crazy-quick slaw is the perfect pairing for spicy shrimp.

4 cups 3-color coleslaw mix

1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple in juice, drained in colander and 1 tablespoon juice reserved for slaw

¼ cup chopped cilantro (optional)

1 tablespoon canola oil

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

½ teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Toss coleslaw mix, drained pineapple and cilantro (if using) in a medium-sized bowl.  Stir reserved pineapple juice and remaining ingredients together in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Spicy shrimp

1 pound raw shrimp (26-30 per pound), peeled and deveined

2 teaspoons no-salt chili powder

½ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon canola oil

2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped

Lime wedges

Rinse shrimp, pat dry and put in a bowl. Stir chili powder, cumin, and cayenne together.  Drizzle oil over shrimp; toss to evenly coat with oil. Sprinkle spice mixture over top. Lightly rub spices into shrimp. Toss garlic over shrimp.

Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp to pan. Cook until pink on both sides, about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Spoon onto a plate.


Assemble tacos

8 white-corn tortillas, heated according to package directions

Place tortillas on serving plates. Stir oil and juice mixture and pour over coleslaw.  Stir well.

Squeeze a little lime juice over shrimp.  Spoon about ½ cup of coleslaw onto each tortilla.  Divide shrimp among tortillas. Enjoy!

Nutritional information per serving:  297 calories; 8 g fat; 0 g saturated fat; 170 g cholesterol; 262 mg sodium; 29 g protein; 31 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber sodium based on 170 mg per 4 ounces shrimp


Simple side

Skip tortilla chips in favor of a rainbow of sweet, crunchy, easy-to-munch pepper strips. They’re loaded with goodness, including fiber and Vitamin C, with just a handful of calories.


Frosty yogurt and mango

Makes 4 servings

1 cup lowest-calorie vanilla frozen yogurt

3 cups fresh ripe mango chunks or frozen mango chunks, thawed

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, optional

Divide yogurt among serving bowls.  Top with mango. Sprinkle with nutmeg, if desired.

Nutritional information per serving, based on Dreyer’s Yogurt Blend at 50 calories per ¼ cup serving: 140 calories; 1.5g fat; less than 1g saturated fat; 5 mg cholesterol; 18 mg sodium; 1 g protein; 32 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 27.5 g sugar, 21 g from mango


Extra hungry?  Drain and rinse canned black beans – lowest sodium available.  Stir in a little chopped onion, minced garlic, ½ teaspoon ground cumin and pinch of cayenne before heating.

Tortilla talk: I almost always reach for corn tortillas because with a mere 5 mg of sodium and 70 calories per supersize tortilla, they have a boatload less sodium along with less fat and fewer calories than their flour-tortilla cousins.  Flour can weigh in at 140 calories and over 400 mg sodium per soft-taco size. The white corn variety is mild and almost sweet, perfect for these tacos.

Sodium savvy: From under 200 mg serving to well over 500 mg per 4-ounce serving, shrimp’s sodium content can vary greatly. Check labels when buying frozen.  If buying refrigerated, ask counterperson to peek at the original package and give you the info. The American Heart Association recommends a daily max of 1,500 mg of sodium per day.

Carla F. Williams is a South L.A. resident, cookbook author and certified nutrition and wellness consultant. 

Cooking questions or ideas?  Email Carla at: or follow her on Twitter @KitchenCarla.