Monday, February 9, 2015


So a little disclaimer. This is absolutely the opposite of a local winter meal. Fresh lettuce in winter? No. Cucumbers in the snow? No. Water chestnuts in the mitten state? Not that I can find.

And so it is what it is and the beauty of discipline in any area of life is that there is room for exceptions and straying from the rules actually keep us balanced and in a healthier place than stubbornness and rigidity.

I love this recipe because it reminds me of PF Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps and beyond that it reminds me of being in Chicago with my husband, newly married and newly gluten-free. Many people have memories surrounding food and this particular dish is one of the first I ate out after learning I had an allergy to gluten. 

If you've had such a staple food like gluten removed from your diet you know the helpless feeling of looking into a menu and realizing a salad, hold pretty much everything, is the only answer. But then. Then you enter a restaurant that takes gluten free seriously and everything about the meal is suddenly transformed from desperate to beautiful and permanently impressed on your being. 

Now I don't know how the higher ups at PF Chang's feel about GMO's or organic food or supporting local farms or animal confinement. 

I hope they care. 

What I do know is that in this one particular area they made a difference for me in a very hopeless situation and for that I am grateful. 

This recipe was an absolute hit in our family. Most nights I come to the table with food prepared having no idea what the response will be. Translation, I have no idea how hard I'm going to have to fight to have said food consumed by a particular two and four year old. And by fight, I mean how creative I'll need to get. Obviously.

Coming into this meal was no different and truth be told, I expected the worst. Instead, both kids ate the equivalent of four wraps each [albeit running to and from the table]. Either way, a clear and delicious success!

Serves 4
Adapted from this recipe

1 lb organic, pasture raised ground turkey or chicken
1 - 2 T. extra virgin coconut or olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 heaping tablespoon of peeled and minced ginger
1 8-ounce can of water chestnuts, finely chopped
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 T. raw honey
1 cucumber very thinly sliced [using knife or mandolin]
raw apple cider vinegar
sea salt
1 large head of bib or butter lettuce, rinsed and laid on towel to dry
cooked [and sprouted if possible] quinoa or rice, optional
green onions / scallions, chopped, optional

Warm oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey and cook until well done, breaking into very small pieces while cooking. Once the turkey is thoroughly cooked, add onion, garlic, and ginger. Saute over medium heat until onion is soft and transparent [5 - 10 minutes]. Stir in the garlic powder, tamari sauce or coconut aminos, honey, and brown rice vinegar. Let mixture cook for about 10 minutes or until the liquid is reduced to one third of the original. Add water chestnuts at the end and cook for 3 - 4 minutes. While the turkey filling is cooking, slice cucumbers and place in a glass bowl. Toss with enough cider vinegar to coat and sprinkle with a few pinches of salt. Mix well and place in refrigerator until food is prepared. 

Once the meat is ready, either place meat, lettuce cups, marinated cucumbers, and quinoa or rice on the table or scoop filling into lettuce cups and top with cucumbers, quinoa or rice [if desired], and serve immediately. 

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