Holiday Shrimp Cocktail

I went to the mall Saturday.

Yea, I know — shopping at the mall two weeks before Christmas.  It’s sort of hardcore.  But, I CrossFit and that makes me tough.  I managed to slug through 100 burpees after running two miles, completing 10 rope climbs and lifting 95 pounds over my head 30 times during Friday’s workout.  Surely I can make it through some holiday shopping at Nordstrom I convinced myself.

And actually, I enjoyed myself at the mall.  The sparkling lights and the holiday music are festive.  And when little, picturesque snowflakes started flurrying and floating from the sky as I drove home, I kind of felt that Christmas spirit.

Here’s a recipe that reminds me of Christmas Eve with my family.  When I was a teenager, my parents, sisters and I made the decision to open gifts on Christmas Eve, instead of Christmas morning. Christmas morning we were all unshowered and hungry and a little tired.  My feet were always cold.  Christmas Eve just seemed so cozy and classy.

So, we went to church, came home, changed into clothes that were comfy but still cute enough for photographs and started our holiday festivities.

Because we were coming from church and didn’t have a huge amount of time to make a massive holiday meal, we kept the food simple.  We dined on foods that were quick and easy but special enough for Christmas Eve.  I don’t remember much about the meal most years, but I distinctly recall one item that was always on the menu — shrimp cocktail.

It seems sort of funny now that pre-cooked shrimp and sweet, red cocktail sauce was such a treat.  But it sure was!  I really loved that part of Christmas Eve, eating shrimp cocktail with my family by the twinkling tree.  It makes me feel good to think about it.

Back to this Saturday night – with the Christmas spirit all swirling through me, I decided to make shrimp cocktail.   I didn’t even bother picking up a jar of pre-made cocktail sauce to check the ingredients. I know most pre-made cocktail sauces are packed with sugar.  You can taste it.  So sweet.  So I decided to make my own.

I picked up a bottle of horseradish sauce and discovered that the second ingredient was sugar.  Now, that I did not know.

So I bought fresh horseradish root and the ingredients to make homemade paleo ketchup (based off a recipe I found on and started creating.  I am pleased with how this came out.  You may want to tweak it one way or another to suit your tang/tomato preferences, but I think it’s a fantastic starting point.

I am not sure of our plans for Christmas Eve this year.  They may or may not involve shrimp cocktail.  But if they do, I know I can feel good about serving this no added sugar, paleo version.

Holiday Shrimp Cocktail

Tomato paste, 6 ounces

Apple cider vinegar, 3 tablespoons

Water, 1/3 cup

Cinnamon, 1 teaspoon

Allspice, 1 teaspoon

Salt, 2 or 3 shakes

Fresh horseradish root, about 1 inch  (1 tablespoon grated)

Shrimp, pre-cooked, 30-40

  1. Combine first six ingredients to make paleo ketchup.  (Note: This recipe for paleo ketchup is a simplified version of this recipe by Alisa at  She said she got the recipe from  Go check out both these sites for this recipe and many other tasty recipes too!)
  2. Peel the horseradish root and grate.  I did it manually but you may be able to use a food processor as well.
  3. Add horseradish to ketchup.  Taste and adjust seasonings to suit your taste.
  4. Serve with shrimp.  And then open presents.