10.26.2011

Thai Peanut Lettuce Wraps and Jean Overalls

As promised, here is my recipe for Thai Peanut Lettuce Wraps.  A few weeks ago I went to a local restaurant with Kevin and some friends of ours for dinner.  I'm always nervous going out to dinner because I never know if there will be any nutritarian/vegan options.  I find that most restaurant's interpretations of a salad are some lettuce with cheese, meat, and creamy or oily dressings.  Not exactly a "healthy" option.  At this restauant (South Fork), I found a great appetizer that worked perfect with my nutritarian diet.  The lettuce wraps were fairly inexpensive and had the following description:  Spring salad mixture of lettuce cucumber, vermicelli noodles, cilantro, peanuts, shrimp, and honey-lime vinaigrette, served with a peanut sauce and crisp butter lettuce.  I have to say, it was one of the better things I've had eating out for sometime.  The only thing I kept thinking the whole time I was eating it was "I could just make this at home so easily!"  I payed particular attention to all of the tastes in the peanut sauce to be able to replicate it, because it was TO DIE FOR!  So was born last week my Thai Peanut Lettuce Wraps.  I made this once last week, and then for my parents this weekend.  From making it twice I realized that this is a very versatile recipe that can be served as more of a cold salad starter, or a warm main dish.  Below I will provide the two ways I made the recipe and some tips on making it work for you.

Thai Peanut Lettuce Wraps (Cold)


Ingredients: (serves 2-4)
 1 head Butter lettuce, iceburg lettuce, or other wrap-able lettuce
Lettuce Filling:
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed, save 1/4 c bean juice
1 c shredded carrots
1 c shredded broccoli
1/2 c green onion, chopped
1/4 c unsalted peanuts
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 T lime juice
1 t honey
1 T water
Dipping Sauce:
1/4 c reserved bean juice
1/4 c peanut butter (homemade, or natural and unsalted)
1/4 c low sodium soy sauce
1/4 c water 
(or 1/8 c soy sauce and 1/3 c water)
1/8 t wasabi powder (or 1/4 tsp pre-made wasabi paste)
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 t minced garlic
1/2 t ground ginger powder (or 1 t fresh minced ginger)
1 T rice vinegar


Directions:  Separate lettuce leaves onto a plate for serving as wraps.  For lettuce filling, mix together chickpeas, carrots, broccoli, peanuts, and red onion in a medium size bowl.  Separately mix together lime juice, water, and honey, then drizzle over filling mixture.  For the dipping sauce, combine all ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk until peanut butter is broken up, then stir occasionally until sauce comes to a light boil.  Whisk constantly keeping the sauce at a boil until it becomes thick, add more water if you want sauce less thicking (in 1/8 c increments).  Serve Dipping sauce warm with cold salad filling and lettuce wraps.
Thai Peanut Lettuce Wraps (hot)
Ingredients: (serves 6-8)
 2 heads butter lettuce, iceburg lettuce, or other wrap-able lettuce
Lettuce Filling:
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed, save 1/2 c bean juice
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
10 mushrooms quartered
2 bell peppers chopped (or other veggie like asparagus or zucchini)
1/2 c unsalted peanuts
1 c broccoli cut into strips
1 c matchstick cut carrots
+water for sauteing
1/2 T lime juice
1 t honey
1 T water
Dipping Sauce:
1/2 c reserved bean juice
1/2 c peanut butter (homemade, or natural and unsalted)
1/2 c low sodium soy sauce
1/2 c water 
(or 1/4 c soy sauce and 2/3 c water)
1/4 t wasabi powder (or 1/2 tsp pre-made wasabi paste)
1 t red pepper flakes
2 t minced garlic
1 t ground ginger powder (or 2 t fresh minced ginger
2 T rice vinegar

Directions: Separate lettuce leaves onto a plate for serving as wraps.  For lettuce filling, saute onion, broccoli, mushrooms, and peppers (or other veggie) in a large skillet until onions are slightly translucent.  Add chickpeas, carrots, and peanuts and saute for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Place sauted ingredients into a large bowl.  Separately mix together lime juice, water, and honey, then drizzle over filling mixture.  For the dipping sauce, combine all ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk until peanut butter is broken up, then stir occasionally until sauce comes to a light boil.  Whisk constantly keeping the sauce at a boil until it becomes thick, add more water if you want sauce less thicking (in 1/8 c increments).  Serve Dipping sauce warm with hot filling and lettuce wraps.

When I first made the hot recipe for my parents this weekend, I tried to replicate the original recipe's vermicelli noodles by boiling angel hair pasta, and cutting it into 1 inch long pieces.  This ended up being way to much effort for a very small part of the recipe, so I decided to eliminate it from the blog recipe.  My favorite part of the recipe has to be the dipping sauce.  In the future, I want to try using half peanut butter and half tahini (sesame butter) to give it a different taste.

Now on to our favorite thing to talk about... Exercise?  This week at my university there is a competition between Pac-12 schools for who can log the most exercise points with their students.  So far I have racked up 120 points for my school this week, and I have a date with the Rec center and my core class tonight!  Not only has motivation to go to the gym come from the fitness challenge, but also from the upcoming Halloween party my roommate and I are throwing this Saturday.  We have made a great list of yummy and festive foods we will be serving including Sweet Potato Chili, meaty chili, Cinnamon-Apple Chex Mix, "Boo"-riffic Kisses, and One-eyed Green Monster Cupcakes.  On top of drinking and eating some of these yummy things that night, I will be wearing jean overalls that fit me like a glove, and I don't want to be exploding out of them by the end of the night.  So there is my motivation for this week: beating the other Pac-12 schools and jean overalls!

Our weekly schedules undoubtedly change, but do our motivations for exercise keep up with them?  Would it be better to set goals for yourself weekly rather than a big goal a couple months down the road?


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