So you have finished your 21-Day Program, have done your reintroduction, and you are ready to move on to daily maintenance. Maybe you have been craving those delicious restaurant Thai lettuce wraps (that often have us thinking we’re making a healthy choice). Unfortunately, the sauces used in many mainstream restaurants are filled with refined sugar and low-quality fats. Since traditional Asian ingredients like fish sauce, garlic, ginger, and peppers are bursting with flavor on their own, we find the addition of inflammation-causing ingredients unnecessary. We’ve taken all of those classic Asian flavors to make crisp and fresh entree that doesn’t sacrifice taste!
WHY PASTURE-RAISED MATTERS
The labels decorating poultry and dairy products can often feel overwhelming – free-range, cage-free, pasture-raised, and organic are just a few we might see. Chickens, just like humans, have a certain diet and level of movement that creates optimal health. If animals are raised in an environment that is stressful, limits movement, or if they are fed a diet that is unnatural to them, they will not be healthy choices for humans to consume. Chickens are meant to roam freely and consume their natural diet of seeds, green plants, and bugs. When we house chickens in small spaces and feed them a diet of corn and grain, their bodies become full of inflammation and their omega-3 content is suppressed. Both Omega-3s and Omega-6s are important for a functioning body, but the quality of animal products (thanks to their diet and living conditions) has led the American diet to be too heavy in Omega-6s.
AN UNEXPECTED INGREDIENT
Fish sauce is made from fermented fish, normally anchovies. It’s been used since ancient roman times, and because it is made using the entire fish (rather than just the meat) it contains an abundance of micronutrients. In contrast to what the name would suggest, the sauce will not make this dish taste “fishy.” It’s a subtle salty flavor, similar to soy sauce, but with added health benefits. Specifically, fish sauce is dense with B-vitamins, which are crucial for energy production at a cellular level. Vitamin A and vitamin D, which are both important for thyroid health, are also found in fish sauce. You can find gluten-free and sugar-free versions of it in specialty stores or online.
SPICE IT UP
Using spices is an important tool both when cleansing and maintaining a healthy diet. Instead of relying on packaged sauces with added sugars, choosing ingredients like garlic and ginger will add both flavor and nutrients. Ginger is great for digestion, which will help keep us regular and keep bloat away. Garlic is rich in a compound called allicin which gives it immunity-boosting and anti-cancer properties. This Thai lettuce wrap recipe is also great for entertaining (or even Superbowl Sunday)!
1 lb pasture-raised ground chicken
4-5 cloves garlic
1 large red bell pepper (omit if cleansing, or substitute a favorite veggie)
1 large or 2 small shallots
4-5 green onions
1 8-ounce can water chestnuts
3 tablespoons gluten-free Tamari
1.5 tablespoons Rice Vinegar
1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar
1/2 lime, juiced
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 heaping teaspoon ginger, grated
10-15 butter lettuce or small romaine leaves
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add chicken along with a generous pinch of salt and black pepper. Use a wooden spoon to break apart chicken and cook until lightly cooked, but not cooked through (about 3-4 minutes).
Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Wipe pan clean.
While chicken is cooking, prepare vegetables. Finely chop bell peppers, mince garlic, slice green onion (keep green and whites separate), mince shallots, grate ginger, and chop water chestnuts. Next, prepare the sauce by whisking all sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.
Heat a tablespoon of olive or coconut oil over medium heat. Add bell peppers and cook for 2 minutes. Add shallots and white ends of green onions and cook for another 2 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, and chicken next and stir ingredients together. Pour sauce over meat and let the chicken cook through (about 3-5 additional minutes). Remove from heat.
Gently fold the water chestnuts into cooked chicken and place in serving platter with green onions. Serve Thai lettuce wraps with butter lettuce leaves or romaine lettuce.
Recipe and photography by Kaitlyn Noble.