Archive for May, 2012


Lettuce wraps are a delicious departure from salads, making them the ideal dish for me to play around with. Of course leanness was a major consideration so I went in for extra lean ground chicken. You could use lean ground turkey, fish or lean beef if you like. Also, I kept the oil and the sauces light so that the calories would not pile up. Despite the caution with respect to calories, my husband and I were unable to control our portions because the meat and the wraps were so succulent and flavourful. Hope you guys enjoy the recipe just as much!

The following recipe serves two to three people.

Cooking the meat

You will need:

450 g of extra lean ground chicken

One large onion – diced

Three green chili peppers (or to taste)

Canola oil, two tablespoons of sesame oil (optional)

Four fat pods of garlic, one-inch cube of ginger – ground

One and a half tablespoons each of Hoisin sauce, Soy Sauce and Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

Salt to taste

Lemon juice to taste

A handful of coriander leaves (cilantro) (optional)

Method of preparation:

Coat a slightly heated skillet with a little canola oil or any other neutral oil of your choice. Add a diced large onion, diced chili peppers and ginger and garlic pastes to the skillet and cook them till the onion pieces cook through. Then, add in about half a tablespoon of salt. Add in the ground meat. Stir randomly till the meat cooks through. Lower the flame.

In a separate cup, add in about a tablespoon and a half of the Hoisin, Sweet Chili Pepper and Soy sauces and mix. Add three fourth of this sauce mixture and a tablespoon of lemon juice to the meat mixture and mix. Taste and adjust for salt, lemon and the three sauce mixture as per your taste. Turn off the flame and garnish with chopped coriander leaves a.k.a. cilantro.

Other components

To add crunch to the wrap filling and to enhance the Thai flavor of the wrap, chop up some peanuts and toast them. Also grate up about three small carrots, chop up three green onions (scallions) and wash up some bean sprouts.

Assembling the lettuce wrap:

Separate the leaves of the lettuce carefully. Use the lettuce leaves like a taco. Use one or two leaves as a cup. Add in some meat filling, peanuts, carrot, scallions and bean shoots. Take a bite and give us your verdict! :)

Cooked, Spiced and Sauced Lean Ground Chicken

Garnish for the wraps!

Chopped and toasted peanuts

This series of articles titled Eating Like Okinawan Centenarians work off the concepts outlined in the book The Okinawa Program — How the World’s Longest-Lived People Achieve Everlasting Health – And How You Can Too. The book authored by a team of medical and scientific experts documents the diet, exercise and lifestyle practices of the world’s healthiest, long-lived  people and suggests ways in which we can incorporate those practices in our own lives.

Lean Streak will discuss several of these practices one at a time and give practical ways to incorporate them in our daily diet.

The Okinawa Pyramid:

With the evolution of healthful food philosophies, the  United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) food pyramid is fast becoming a relic. There seems to be an overarching consensus that there need to be several servings of fruits and vegetables in the daily diet and that whole grains, which in my opinion are tastier, are the building blocks to good health. In fact, there is an Okinawan proverb which goes –

Aramun jouguu ya duu ganjuu

(One who eats whole food will be strong and healthy.)

Based on 25 years of research, the authors of The Okinawa Program have formulated an Okinawa Food Pyramid to help us by way of guidelines that could help us plan our daily meals. The Okinawa Food Pyramid:

While these guidelines are not commandments, the closer we get to following them, the healthier our food becomes. The guidelines, the authors say, should be re-adjusted and fine-tuned to one’s personal tastes, appetite and activity levels. Re-enforcing the importance of liberal consumption of vegetables fruits and greens, in June 2011, the USDA released MyPlate, which has now replaced MyPyramid as the American government’s primary food symbol.

MyPlate:

Salmon – Baby Spinach – Pomegranate Salad

Salads are great for home cooks looking to put their creative juices to constructive use! Salad customization isn’t a new concept, most salad bars do it but somehow the average salad bar seems to be incapable of pushing the envelope. So all you have to do is a slightly unusual pairing that pops in your mouth and even those who don’t usually reach for the salad sit up and take notice!

Today, I tossed baby spinach, toasted chopped walnuts and pomegranate seeds with salt-pepper-garlic crusted salmon baked in the oven. I must mention that I left the skin on and crisped the skin in an oil-coated skillet before I transferred the skillet to a preheated oven. Of course you can cook the fish the way you like it but the purpose of the blog is to publicize the fact that these ingredients work  very well together.

Here are a few specifics to help you recreate the dish. I slathered the fish with an olive oil – garlic – salt – pepper paste. I used some of the same oil to crisp the skin of the fish on  a stove top. Then I flipped the side and cooked it briefly. I transferred the fish to the oven and let it bake. The time-temperature adjustments would vary with the size of your fish. While the fish was cooking, I de-seeded slightly more than half a large pomegranate, mixed it with some washed baby spinach and toasted walnuts. I seasoned this salad mixture with salt, pepper and a little olive oil. Once the fish was done, I let it rest for a couple of minutes. Then, I sliced the fish and added it to the salad.

This salad works on its own or with a toasted piece of bread.

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