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TIP OF THE DAY: Save Calories With Healthy Lettuce Wraps

Lettuce wraps are a carb- and calorie-reducing way to enjoy your favorite foods at lunch, dinner or for a snack.

Just substitute low-cal, crunchy lettuce for tortilla wraps, sandwich bread, pita and even rice.

For example, Asian dishes that typically pair with rice can be eaten in lettuce wraps instead of with rice. We were first served romaine leaves for this purpose at a Vietnamese restaurant in Paris, many years ago. Today, we regularly go out for Korean barbecue, where meat, pickles, garnishes and condiments are rolled into a romaine leaf and eaten. It’s so delicious, it’s hard to believe it’s so low in calories.

Lettuce wraps are also a sneaky-fun way to get the family to eat more low-calorie lettuce. A .17 ounce/5 gram lettuce leaf has 1 calorie; two pieces of extra-thin-sliced bread have 90 calories.

What Types Of Lettuce Should You Use?

Just about anything works: leaves of Boston lettuce, iceberg lettuce, red leaf lettuce, romaine, napa cabbage, Chinese cabbage (bok choy) and radicchio. Pick the largest head with pliable leaves (you can blanch cabbage leaves to make rolling easier).

 

Save calories with lettuce wraps instead
of bread. Photo by W.S. Mahar | IST.

 

Wash and dry the leaves well in advance of serving. They will stay crisp in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

What Should You Put In Your Lettuce Wraps?

  • Your favorite sandwich salads (chicken, egg, shrimp, tuna, etc.)
  • Your favorite sandwich meats and/or veggies, chopped into bite-size pieces (try a BLT!)
  • Burrito, fajita and taco fixings—anything you’d put in a tortilla
  • Salad (think chopped salad, Israeli salad and Greek salad)
  • Leftovers
  • Your favorite stir fry
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    Wrap Sandwich Recipes

    The easiest way to serve wraps to anyone old enough to fix a sandwich is to keep the filling and the lettuce wraps separate and let people roll their own.

  • Set up a “wrap buffet” with one or more types of lettuces and fillings, plus garnishes like fresh mint leaves and basil leaves, chopped tomatoes, sliced green onions, shredded cheese, sliced pickles, olives and capers. Watch everyone go to town creating their own custom wraps.
  • Provide sauces and condiments that are appropriate for the fillings: vinaigrette, hot sauce, hoisin or other sweet and spicy sauce, yogurt sauce, mustard, mayonnaise, etc.
  • An easy dressing for seafood and vegetable wraps: 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce and 2 tablespoons fish sauce (in the Asian condiments aisle).
  • Core the lettuce and soak it in ice water for an hour, for easy removal of intact leaves. Separate the leaves and drain each one individually, then refrigerate on a towel for a couple of hours to crisp them.
  • Lettuce leaves can be prepared hours in advance or overnight. Rinse, dry and stack the leaves in a plastic bag in the fridge. Be sure to dry the lettuce well before serving.
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    SANDWICH TYPES

    How many types of sandwiches can you name? See our Sandwich Glossary.

    There are more sandwich recipes in our Gourmet Bread Section.
      





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