Sugar-free, Homemade, Quick & Easy Lettuce Boats

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Sugar-free, Homemade, Quick & Easy Lettuce BoatsTwo years ago, when I first set out to try removing sugar from my diet, I was really intimidated. I was already a pretty able cook, but the thought of having to remove more ingredients from my kitchen seemed daunting. Even more intimidating, the program I decided to do had an accompanying cookbook that used a lot of new-to-me ingredients such as avocados, coconut oils, and spices like cumin. I decided rather than trying to avoid those ingredients, I would just dive head first into the cookbook, trying a dish that looked really intimidating and going from there.

These lettuce boats, which reminded me of my beloved P.F. Chang’s chicken lettuce wraps, was the first recipe I tried. I remember thinking the entire time, “Wait. This is it? This is so easy, and it tastes amazing!”  In the two years since, this recipe has disappeared from the cookbook for the original program I was doing, but it has remained as a family favorite. I’m so glad I wrote the recipe down when I did! Perfect as a last minute complete meal, you can use any protein you have on had - ground beef, lamb, turkey or marinated shrimp. For a vegan version, Kimberly boiled one cup of lentils small green lentils in three cups of water for about half an hour until soft. Then she mixed the lentils with a cup of chopped, toasted walnuts. Simply cook up your choice of protein with some onions, garlic, and spices, and then add the toppings of your choice. It’s a perfect recipe that can be made over endless ways and will fit into any lifestyle. 

Lettuce Boats

adapted from the 21-Day Sugar Detox 2012 pdf - serves 4

  • 1 pound ground beef, chicken, turkey, shrimp, or other crumbled protein of choice (for a vegan/vegetarian version, use 20 ounces cooked lentils and 1 cup of chopped toasted walnuts)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, bacon fat, tallow, or ghee
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • sea salt & black pepper, to taste
  • 1 head of romaine lettuce
  • 1-2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1-2 avocados, sliced

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large cast iron skillet. Add chopped onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, approximately 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Remove garlic and onion from pan and set aside to cool. (If you’re using the lentil/walnut combo, add to the pan with the onions, garlic, and seasonings for maximum flavor, and cook until heated through.)

In a medium mixing bowl, use your hands to combine the ground beef, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Add onions and garlic once they have cooled.

Return pan to heat and add meat mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring often to break up the mix into small pieces. Cook till protein is no longer pink, approximately 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

While meat is cooking, separate the head of romaine into individual leaves, and rinse under cool water. Allow leaves to drain in colander, and pat dry with a paper towel before using.

Lay out 2-3 leaves per plate, and spoon a little of the meat mixture onto the lettuce - remember, a little goes a long way. Top with chopped tomatoes, sliced avocados, and any other toppings you’d like.

Roll up the sides of the lettuce leaf and eat. This can get messy, but that’s part of the the fun!

What was your variation on this dish? Tell us below!