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.

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Bitchin’ Brussels Sprouts, So Not Meh

Fresh Farmer’s Market Brussels Sprouts

Last week, Joe Biden reminded us all of a different time. A time when ‘malarkey’ was an

Joe Biden Malarkey

That’s Malarkey!

effective way to call someone out on a lie, an untruth. A time when someone could say ‘malarkey’ and everyone would know what he meant. Joe thought some of what that other guy said was simply, malarkey.

Languages evolve and colloquialisms come and go. At some point, ‘eh’ was replaced by ‘meh’ – meant to convey indifference and signify a sense of ‘whatever’ or ‘not so much’. ‘Meh’ is so much in use that this past weekend’s New York Times Magazine actually included ‘The Meh List’…certainly a sign that ‘meh’ is on its way out.

I remember a few years ago when I asked my nephew where my niece was, he, then about 10, told me that his sister was ‘lolly-gagging in the kitchen with Mommy’ – Hmmm, ‘lolly-gagging’? And, no, by a few years I don’t mean that I asked him this question in 1950. He must have picked that up somewhere, and it sounded funny out of a 10-year old in 2008.

Other words and sayings that have sadly and not so sadly fallen out of favor:

Golly…as in ‘Golly, Davey, if we lie…Dad…And, the Lord, will be mad at us’

Davey and Goliath

Golly, Davey!

Piss-Ant, as in ‘Mom! Mary-Ellen called me a Piss-Ant’

Before Mary-Ellen ever whispered those evil words

Groovy…as in ‘Hey there, groovy chicks. You’re all hep in far out ways’

Groovy Johnny Bravo

And others:

Loosey-Goosey

Willie-Nillie

Fuddy-Duddy

Whipper-Snapper

Interestingly, many of these long gone expressions rhymed…maybe a sign of happier times when Opie skipped by a watering hole toting his fishing pole, whistling on his way home after a long day at school.

Another thing that evolves is the way we prepare foods…The way you first experience a food can sear an impression about that food forever. Like when it was all the rage to boil vegetables until they drooped and sagged, lost all color and even more taste. No wonder kids hated vegetables.

But, thankfully, this trend has passed and is no longer a hip and rad way to prepare veggies. Even the most daunting of greens when prepared well, can be a lot more than just nutritious.

Bitchin’ Brussels Sprouts (side dish for 4)

1. Slice the bottoms off of about 20-25 Brussels sprouts and peel off the outer layer of leaves. You can keep these outer leaves and quick fry them – they’re like chips! Or, toss them

2. Slice each sprout in half lengthwise and submerge cut side down in a bowl of ice water with the juice from one half of a lemon. The acid from the lemon will kill any critters hiding between the leaves…eww

Acidy Water Kills Bugs

3. Melt 2 TBSP of butter in a medium fry pan over med/high heat. You can sub 1 tbsp olive oil for 1/2 of the butter…

Melt that Butter!

4. Remove the soaking sprouts from the ice bath and pat dry with a paper towel

5. Carefully place each sprout cut side down into the simmering butter bath

From Icy Bath to Butter Bath

6. Cook until well browned and then carefully flip each sprout over

sprouts vegetables

I Totally Flipped for them!

7. Whisk together 1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock and 1 TBSP of Dijon mustard

Steaming Liquid

Steaming Stock and Dijon Mixture

8. Pour the mixture over the simmering vegetables and allow to steam the sprouts to tenderness. You can at this point add salt and pepper to taste – bear in mind that if you used chicken stock, it’ll be salty enough.

Vegetable Side Dish

Simmering Sprouts

9. Once most of the liquid has evaporated, sprinkle about 1 TBSP of freshly grated parmesan cheese over the sprouts, transfer to a dish and serve

Vegetable side dish

Table-Ready

These groovy sprouts are totally bitchin’ and quick and easy to prepare. So, any of you old fuddy-duddies who think you hate Brussels sprouts because you suffered over-boiled vegetables in the 1970s. Don’t lollygag or dilly-dally, get out there and sear, simmer and saute your sprouts. They’re totally not meh. And that’s not malarkey!