As much as I love to and try to eat healthy food, I’m not one of those people who can honestly say they’re disgusted by some of those famous, giant dishes from chain restaurants. A single Cheesecake Factory salad may be portioned for a family of five and drowning in dressing with more fat than a burger, but hey, it’s tasty. A blooming onion from Outback? If you don’t know what that is, it’s probably for the best (it has 2210 calories!!). And one of my favorites, lettuce wraps from PF Changs. So, I decided I’d try to recreate a version of those tasty lettuce wraps that aren’t quite so guilt-inducing.
My version has more vegetables, less sugar, and omits the crispy noodles (and replaced with some bean sprouts for crunch). I also had it as a dinner entree instead of an appetizer…because who really needs to eat all this, and thennn a whole asian feast?
This is a fun meal for guests or for any night of the week. If you have kids (or a picky boyfriend, perhaps) this could be a great way to sneak in veggies since they’ll be distracted by the fun of making the wraps…kids/boys are easily fooled. I served with a side of vegetable brown fried rice and it was a perfect healthy meal.
Nutritional highlights: These lettuce wraps are filled with vegetables and lean organic chicken. The sweet/spicy sauce satisfies your eat-out craving without the lofty bill or insanely high calorie count. By replacing the crispy noodles you usually find with bean sprouts, you still get the crunch without the fried.
For the lettuce wraps
- 1 head iceberg or bibb lettuce
- 2 chicken breasts, diced into small pieces
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 inch ginger root, finely chopped or grated (optional)
- 1/2 red bell pepper, fine dice
- 1 small can of water chestnuts, drained and chopped
- 1 cup finely chopped mushrooms (white or shitake would be fine)
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 2 tablespoons oil for stir frying (peanut or vegetable oil)
- Mixture of: 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- bean sprouts and cilantro for garnish (optional)
For the Sauce (based on PF changs dipping sauce)
- 1/4 cup water mixed with 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/8th teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon hot mustard (to taste)
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- red pepper flakes, to taste
Start by making the sauce. Dissolve the sugar in the water, and then add the rest of the ingredients. Set sauce aside.
Chop the chicken breast into small cubes (if you’re a raw chicken phobe…I guess you can cook the chicken first and then cut it up). Heat the oil in a wok. Add ginger, garlic, and scallions, and cook about 30 seconds until aromatic. Add the chicken and stir fry for about 1-2 minutes. Add mushrooms, peppers and stir fry until chicken is cooked and vegetables have softened. Add water chestnuts, and soy/sugar/vinegar mixture. Cook for another minute so sauce becomes incorporated.
Serve with iceberg or bib lettuce pieces and sauce. Enjoy!