Loving the BITE: Asian Lettuce Wraps (our knock off from P.F. Chang’s)
Ahhh, what a sweet day. Whether you love your wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, kids, dog, cat, mommy or your bike, it’s good to love, right? And, it’s good to celebrate. This week, in honor of celebrating and eating out, I’ll give you one of my favorite knock-off recipes (so you can save your money next time!). And, my Top 7 Tips for Healthy & Lean Restaurant Choices. If you only go out on Valentine’s and a handful of other times throughout the year, please ignore these suggestions and simply enjoy the food and company. If you are a regular restaurant goer, though, and especially if you’ve got goals to lose weight and improve strength to weight ratio on the bike, it’s not too hard to stick with your plan and enjoy great foods with this guide.
Recipe of the Week: Asian Lettuce Wraps (P.F. Chang Knock-Off)
- 16 large lettuce leaves
- 1 Tbsp organic coconut oil or canola oil
- 1 lb. ground chicken breast (or extra-firm non-gmo tofu for a vegetarian version)
- 1 large oninon, chopped
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce or liquid aminos
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 2 tsp minced fresh ginger (remember, the skin comes off easily by scraping with a spoon
- 1 Tbsp rice wine or red wine vinegar
- 2 tsp Asian chili sauce (like Sriracha)
- 8 oz. can sliced water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
- 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 tsp sesame oil
Rinse lettuce leaves, keeping them whole, and set aside to drain.
Heat coconut oil in large skillet on medium heat and stir-fry chicken for 5-7 minutes.
Add onion, garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, vinegar and chili sauce. Cook until the meat is crumbled and brown.
Add water chestnuts and green onions. Cook until onions begin to wilt, about 2 minutes.
Stir in sesame oil.
Arrange lettuce leaves on the outer edge of a platter. Spoon meat mixture in center. Allow diners to spoon meat mixture into lettuce leaves and eat like a taco.
I am a big fan of finishing the day with a “light” dinner. I believe for both health and healthy weights, it’s best to consume the majority of daily calories during the day, while your most active and to end the day with a lighter intake. And specifically, I recommend nixing most carbohydrates, and especially refined carbs unless it’s the evening directly before a “big” race or ride. There’s simply not much need for quick-energy carbs at night, and most of them offer little benefit. What’s more, overloading carbohydrates tends to promote fat storage unless they are readily used in activity. What do you usually do after dinner? Ride a metric century or relax and then go to bed? Me too. So, I keep it light at night and this recipes like this week’s Loving the Bite allow me to do just that.
On the other hand, every once in a while we eat out. This all becomes much more difficult at a restaurant. Give me a client who eats out several times each week, and I’ll tell you that it’s an uphill battle. But, not impossible. Here’s how you can stick to your lean dinner plans.
Top 7 Healthy & Lean Restaurant Tips:
- Avoid most appetizers. Awesome Blossom, not so awesome. If you’d like an appetizer, try a salad, broth-based soup, edamame, or ahi tuna.
- Remember this plate model when ordering your entrée – ½ plate of veggies, ¼ plate of protein, 0-¼ plate of a whole grain. To accomplish these portions, consider ordering an entrée + a side salad and splitting both with another person or taking half home. For example, you can order a steak and rice dish plus a salad, and portion it out to fit the plate model.
- If ordering a dish that has a protein, veggies, and a grain, considering skipping the grain altogether. Most restaurants offer refined grains instead of whole grains, so it will just be extra calories acting as sugar in your body. And, no matter which meal you’re eating out, keep it to no more than 1 grain. For example, a burger with a salad rather than a burger with fries. If you have pasta, skip the French bread.
- Consider decaf coffee or tea for dessert if others in your party are having dessert and you’d like to have something. If needed to avoid social awkwardness, go ahead a share a bite of the dessert and then go back to your tea. I’m the queen of rejecting foods I don’t want to eat and allowing others to bask in the awkwardness (I’m confident with my food decisions – you’ve just got to own it).
- Moderate any drinking. You might remember that I consider a binge of alcohol a triple edged sword (and yes, I know, there’s no triple-edged sword). Here’s how this imaginary sword cuts you 3 ways: 1) It loads on the calories…even a non-sugary alcoholic drink times five is a whole lotta calories, 2) It reduces your inhibitions, including those concerning food choices, which often leads to overeating, 3) It can make it more difficult for your body to burn fat, for up to 3 days following the binge, as your liver deals with the alcohol rather than oxidizing fat. So, keep it to just 1 or maybe 2 (on a special occasion) drinks.
- Eat slowly so that you know when you’re full. Ask to have leftover boxed or removed from the table so that you don’t continue to “pick” at it.
- Remember, you are in control of what you put into your mouth. You are strong enough to make good decisions, enjoy the food and opportunity to eat out, and stop eating when you need to stop.
Whatever your plans (or lack thereof) are for the day and evening, make sure to treat yourself well. Take care of your body and enjoy yourself (cycling and healthy eating are not bad ways to go). Enjoy the opportunities to eat out with loved ones. And, let us know what dishes you’d like “knocked off,” and I’ll do my best to feature them. Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!
Fuel your Ride. Nourish your Body.