A Virtual Birthday Dinner

Today is my mom’s birthday. Unfortunately, she lives many hours away in Pittsburgh, so I’m not usually able to be with her on her birthday. But if she was here, I would certainly make her dinner.   Of course I would make her favorite food, which happens to be anything with shrimp in it.



When my parents ran their restaurant years ago, the menu didn’t have many seafood options.  So when Dad ran shrimp specials, he would promise my mother to keep a portion off the side for her.   Sometimes we would run out of those specials, but Mom always got her portion at the end of the night.

Lucky for her and all her fellow shellfish lovers, shrimp is a great lean, low-fat protein source.  Sure, shellfish has a moderate amount of cholesterol with about 172 mg per 4 oz. serving, which is a little over half the daily maximum suggested by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.  Cholesterol found in food doesn’t have as much of an impact on our blood cholesterol as we once thought.  The amount of fat and carbohydrates we consume tends to have more impact on our blood cholesterol numbers, so don’t give up your shellfish for the sake of your cholesterol.

I apologize for the less-than-great photo as it isn’t the most photogenic, but it does taste good.  It’s really easy to adapt by changing up the vegetables.  It would be excellent served over spaghetti squash or zucchini instead of pasta noodles to reduce calories and increase vitamins and minerals.  It would also make a great “Meatless Monday” by skipping the shrimp altogether.  But when I make this for Mom the next time she visits, I’ll be sure to include the shrimp.  Happy birthday, Mom!




Creamy Spinach-Artichoke Pasta with Shrimp

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Serves 4


8 oz. linguine (half of regular package)

1 pound raw shrimp, cleaned and shell removed

Salt + pepper, to taste

2 tsp. olive oil, divided

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 jar (6.5 oz) marinated artichoke quarters, drained, chopped

1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

½ cup low-sodium chicken stock

4 cups fresh spinach, chopped

¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated


  1. Cook linguine according to package directions.
  2. Season shrimp with salt and pepper.  Add 1 tsp. of oil over medium heat.  Sauté shrimp in oil until pink and each is close to touching.* Transfer shrimp onto plate and set aside.
  3. In a blender or food processor, blend ricotta cheese and chicken stock.
  4. Heat 1 tsp. of oil in skillet over medium heat.  Add chopped garlic and artichoke.  Sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add ricotta sauce to skillet.
  5. Add chopped raw spinach and shrimp.  Heat through until spinach wilts.  Serve over linguine and top with parmesan cheese.

*I usually take shrimp off when they’re almost done, but not quite. They’ll continue cooking after you take them out of the pan and in this recipe you’ll be adding them back to the pan to reheat, which will help cook them as well.


Nutrition per serving:

470 calories

48 grams carbohydrates

12 grams fat

41 grams protein

525 mg sodium