Thai-ing To Lose Weight: Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Gluten Free Chicken Ground

Thai these to help lose weight

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you know that the trip to thinner isn’t always a direct route. I mean, let’s face it life isn’t linear. Sometimes it’s the most circuitous of routes that leads us to our desired destination. Sometimes it’s the countless number of times that we hit the wall of a maze that brings us to the end of our journey.

So in the quest to lose my Sandy 15lbs, I took a detour to Thanksgiving – read: ate lots of stuffing, mashed potatoes and pie. Look! There I am on Nantucket with Veep Joe Biden:

VP Joe Biden on Nantucket

Look at his shiny teeth!

Do you think he thinks I look fat? Nah, he’s too nice and shiny to think that!

So now that my favorite holiday has passed and my time with Biden (or, more accurately, my time stalking the vice president on the tiny island) is over, I’m taking the right steps to shed a few lbs.

Recent meals have featured Carnival Squash and Simply Grilled Shrimp.

squash week

Lo-Cal Carnival

Marinated Grilled Shrimp
Lo-Cal Grilled Shrimp

But last night I wanted to do something a little more interesting. So I tried a taste of lo-cal Thai.

You will want to prep ahead cuz this is easy but takes like :90 mins in total.

Pretty Lo-Cal Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps (serves 4)

Oh! And they’re gluten-free as well!

OK…First and foremost, there is a lot of prep of ingredients in the chicken wraps – so do yourself a favor and mise en place.

Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps

A Mise En Place to make Chef Anne Burrell Proud

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 TBSP lime juice
  • 1-2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1/8 Cup of sugar
  • 2 TBSP Asian Fish Sauce, like Ka*Me found in the Asian area at Fairway
  • 1 1/2 TSP Chili Pepper Paste, like Amore – hard to find this – had to ask nice Fairway worker guy
  • Vegetable oil – not Olive Oil
  • Peeling fresh Ginger

    Ginger

    2 TBSP grated fresh ginger – remember, you should have some peeled ginger stored in your freezer

  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 TSP kosher salt – or less
  • 4 Scallions thinly sliced
  • 1 medium carrot grated
  • 1/2 cup canned, drained water chestnuts, diced
  • The recipe also calls for 3 TBSP chopped fresh mint leaves and 2 TBSP chopped fresh cilantro – I prepped both of these ingredients…but then forgot to stir them in at the end. So you can skip it if you like.

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, lemon juice, fish sauce and chili pepper paste and set aside. The recipe called for Asian Chile Paste…but I couldn’t find it at Fairway, so I bought Amore Chile Pepper Paste – I think that’s the same thing?

Lo-Cal Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps

The liquids

2. Heat about 2 TBSP of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

3. Add the garlic and the ginger and stir until fragrant (about 2 mins)

Thai lettuce wraps

Don’t Let the Garlic Burn! Cuz you’d have to start over

3. Add the chicken and salt and cook completely – about 6 mins

NOTE: the recipe called for a ton of salt…but, I used just shy of a tsp and it was more than enough

Gluten free ground chicken

Browning the Gluten Free Chicken

4. Stir in the scallions, carrot and water chestnuts and heat through (about 2 more mins)

thai chicken lettuce wraps

OOOH! Look at the pretty colors!

5. Transfer the chicken mixture to a bowl and let cool about :05 mins

6. Add in the lemony-limey-fish saucy liquid mixture, 1 tbsp at a time. Once the chicken mixture is moistened, but not swimming, stop adding the liquid. I added too much and it was delicious, but a little messy to eat

thai chicken lettuce wraps

A little too liquid-y

7. Cover the bowl and chill in the fridge for about an hour

8. Prepare 8-10 Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves – you know, like wash them and stuff

9. Put a heap of the chilled chicken mixture inside each lettuce leaf and serve

Thai Chicken Lettuce wraps

Beautifully Tasty and Lo-Cal

My journey to weight loss like most of life’s journeys has not been via a direct route. But, in spite of stops at Beef Wellington and Thanksgiving Stuffing, I’m getting there. It’s not easy at this time of year what with the Lincoln Center Winter’s Eve fest last night featuring fab food fare from all of the local restaurants (like the toasted gnocchi tastes from Bar Boulud’s Tent – OMG!). But, I am Thai-ing so that maybe next time I see Veep Joe B, I’ll be just a little bit thinner.

What the Kale? Not so Super Super Food.

Kale Greens Red Russian

Red Russian Kale Greens

I don’t love sharing my age…and here’s what I will say: in the ’70’s I rocked a pair of moon boots. They were pretty much the most awesome moon boots ever. Striped in shades of the rainbow and puffily filled with polyester to keep me warm in the dead of winter, I was the envy of all my friends – at least that’s how I’m telling it. Moon Boots back then weren’t all techy like they are now. It was a free-love fashion statement for kids who were too young to know about free-love. Moon Boots showcased one of the iconic symbols of ┬áthe ’70’s – the rainbow. And we all wore our own twist of rainbow on whatever we could.

Rainbow Moon Boots

I also had a pet rock. I could solve Rubics Cube in four minutes. I wore totally flammable, Danskin clothing. I cut a 45 out of the back of a Honey Comb box and played it on a flip down record player. I had a CB Radio Handle (“ShortCake” – after Joanie from Happy Days, not some porn star). I could rock a creepy crawler. I never squeezed the Charmin and Gee My Hair Smelled Terrific.

I liked a good fad. I still do.

So, when everyone was all like ‘OMG! Kale!’ and ‘Kale! The Amazing Super Food!’ Kale in many iterations started to appear on menus and people were comparing Kale recipes while boasting about how much Kale and how often Kale, I had to check it out.

While I’m not a salad fan…I do like a good bitter green – give me some arugula, spinach or even endives…and I’m good. Wait, I can put cheese on them, right?

But Kale? Kale…I just wasn’t sure. So I gave it a shot in what seemed to be the tamest form I could find: Kale Chips. Chips is one of my favorite words. What could be the harm?

Kale Chips (appetizer)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

2. Take 1 large bunch of Kale and remove the center vein. I used Russian Red Kale…Might have been a mistake.

3. Tear or cut (your call) the leaves into bite sized pieces and arrange on a baking sheet covered in tin foil and sprayed with an Olive Oil cooking spray. (Pam Olive Oil spray was on sale yesterday at Food Emporium – like $2 off on sale! – it’s the little things that make me happy)

Kale Chips Pre-Oven

4. Spray the Kale pieces with Olive Oil spray and then sprinkle with sea salt

5. Put in the oven for 10-12 minutes – turning the pieces about halfway through the cooking process. Total cook time really depends upon your oven’s accuracy. Goal is crispy.

6. When they reach the desired crispiness, remove from the oven and carefully transfer to a serving bowl

7. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve

Kale Chips with Parmesan

UHHHHH, they were good, I guess. They were crispy and bitter with a good degree of saltiness. They were pretty.

But, probably the biggest selling point was that we all felt better. We felt better because we were eating the most super of Super Foods….

Like I said, I’m hip to a food fad and I’m not going to dis such a super food as Kale. So here’s what I’ll say – make sure you cook them to totally crispy and they mimic the crispy spinach at China Grill (though not as oily). Serve them alongside other appetizers and they’ll provide a nice, rich color to your assortment and make your guests feel better about eating snacks before dinner.

But, at the end of the day…Not my fave food fad. I’m all ‘What the Kale?’ And, I’d rather have a pet rock.