By Michelle Nowicki, Nutritionist
Brazilian Shrimp Stew, also known as Moqueca de Camarao, is flavorful and easy to make. Dende or red palm oil (not kernel palm oil) is rich in carotene antioxidants and gives the stew a nice orange color. Red palm oil is a common cooking ingredient in the tropical belt of Africa, Southeast Asia, and parts of Brazil. It can be found at health food stores and specialty grocers. Don’t worry if you can’t find it, the soup is tasty without it.
Plan ahead, the shrimp needs to marinate for 20-30 minutes.
- 1 pound fresh shrimp, shelled and deveined
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 small red bell pepper, seeded, de-stemmed, finely chopped
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon paprika
- Pinch or two of red pepper flakes
- 1 – 14 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (set some aside for garnish)
- ½ cup green onion greens, thinly sliced
- Black pepper and salt to taste
- 1 Tablespoon dende/raw red palm oil (optional)
Toss well and let the shrimp marinate for 20-30 minutes, while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
In a large covered pan (such as a Dutch oven), heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté a few minutes until softened. Add the bell pepper, tomatoes, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Cook for a few minutes longer, until the bell pepper begins to soften. Stir in the coconut milk. Bring to a simmer and add the shrimp, cilantro and dende oil (optional). Reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer until the shrimp are cooked, approximately 5 minutes. Add fresh ground pepper and salt to taste.
Serve warm as a stew or over rice (quinoa, or cous cous) and garnish with sliced green onion and remaining and cilantro.
Makes about 4 Servings.
Key Ingredient Benefits
Cilantro: The leaves are variously referred to as coriander leaves, fresh coriander, Chinese parsley, or cilantro (in America, from the Spanish name for the plant). In parts of Europe, this herb has traditionally been referred to as an “anti-diabetic” plant. In parts of India, it has traditionally been used for its anti-inflammatory properties. In the United States, cilantro (coriander) has recently been studied for its cholesterol.
Coconut Milk, unsweetened: This beverage is an excellent source of calcium, vitamins D & B12. It also contains medium chain fatty acids (MCFA), which are easily digested, absorbed, and put to use nourishing the body. Unlike other fats, they put little strain on the digestive system and provide a quick source of energy necessary to promote healing. One of the first scientifically recognized benefits of MCFA is the unique manner in which they are digested and utilized by the body.
Dende Oil: Dende oil is a healthy oil derived from the fruit of the oil palm tree and is chock full of antioxidants. It is not to be confused with the unhealthier kernel palm oil, which is derived from the kernel or seed of the fruit. Dende oil antioxidants include carotene and lycopene, which give it its red and orange tones. It is also high in tocotrienols, a powerful form of vitamin E. Its powerful antioxidants help protect against cancer and heart disease.
Garlic: Vampire jokes aside, garlic can protect us in many ways. It contains sulfur compounds that may protect cells from cancer, relax blood vessels and improve cardiovascular health. Research suggests garlic may help boost our cellular antioxidant production. There is some evidence supporting numerous health benefits from a diet rich in garlic.
Lemon: This fruit contains citrus bioflavonoids, which have antioxidant properties and are active in improving the function of the immune system. Lemons also have anti-microbial properties and are a good source of a number of nutrients including, vitamin C, potassium, and folate. The lemon’s bioflavonoids may also function as anti- inflammatories and lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Onions: This ingredient contains a number of flavonoids, one being quercetin (found in Juvenon’s Youthful Energy). This nutrient has been demonstrated in studies to protect the liver, cool the fire of inflammation and has anti-cancer properties. Quercetin may help in weight control by reducing fat synthesis and increasing fat burning.
Olive Oil: This type of oil contains numerous antioxidant polyphenols in addition to monounsaturated oleic acid. Both help support fat metabolism and cardiovascular health. Studies suggest a healthy combo of olive oil and fish oil (omega 3s) can work together in maintaining a pro-inflammatory/anti-inflammatory balance.
Paprika: Paprika’s top benefit is that it is extremely high in vitamin C. A whole paprika pepper is known to have six to nine times the amount of vitamin C as a tomato. Because of its high C content, paprika can also help you absorb iron-rich foods and may help your body fight common infections. Paprika is also loaded with capsaicin, the phytochemical that is a powerful anti-inflammatory.
Red Bell Peppers: Bell peppers are an excellent source of carotenoids and vitamin C and are members of the nightshade family. They also provide plenty of fiber, water and Vitamin A.
Red Pepper Flakes: Hot and spicy, red pepper flakes add zest and health to flavorful dishes around the world. The hotness produced by cayenne is caused by its high concentration of a substance called capsaicin. Capsaicin has been widely studied for its pain-reducing effects, its cardiovascular benefits, and its ability to help prevent ulcers. Capsaicin also effectively opens and drains congested nasal passages.
Shrimp: Shrimp is an excellent source of protein and selenium. This shellfish is a very good source of heart-healthy vitamin B12 and a good source of energy-promoting iron, phosphorus, and niacin; anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids; immune-supportive zinc; and bone-healthy copper and magnesium.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes are a good source of the flavonoid antioxidant, lycopene. Studies have shown that lycopene may offer protection from skin damage and skin cancer. Another flavonoid abundant in tomatoes is Zeaxanthin, which helps prevent age related macular disease (ARMD). This fruit, which is often thought of as a vegetable, is also a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium.
Michelle Nowicki has a Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutrition, completed a dietetic internship at Yale-New Haven Hospital, and has a graduate degree from Yale University.