Tag Archives: Chicken

Chicken Lettuce Cups with Peanut-Hoisin Sauce

Chicken lettuce cups appear on most Asian fusion menus as light, refreshing appetizers. But the nutritional stats are surprisingly – and unnecessarily – high: Pei Wei’s Minced Chicken with Cool Lettuce Wraps have 620 calories and 22 grams of fat – without the peanut sauce. Cheesecake Factory’s Thai Lettuce Wraps have 1,025 calories, 114 carbs, and 2,347 mg sodium! These chicken lettuce cups are light (as they should be), flavorful (mint and peanut sauce give them authentic flavor) and perfect for the end of a hot day.


One head of butter or bibb lettuce
1 lb ground chicken (or turkey)
1 T sesame oil
1 cup sliced green onions, divided
½ cup chopped cilantro, divided
½ cup mint
2 T low-sodium soy sauce
1 T fresh chopped ginger
1 cup matchstick julienne-cut carrots
1 cup matchstick julienne-cut cucumber
¼ cup peanuts
Brown rice (optional)

Peanut-Hoisin Dipping Sauce:

¼ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup hoisin
1 minced shallot
1 T soy sauce
2 T lime juice
1 tsp sesame oil


To make the sauce, heat sesame oil over a small skillet. Add minced shallot; saute for 1-2 minutes. Add peanut butter, hoisin, and soy sauce; stir. Bring to a boil; let cool and add lime juice.

For the filling, heat a large skillet over medium heat; add sesame oil. Add ½ cup sliced green onions; saute 3-4 minutes. Add ground chicken, breaking it up into small pieces. Once browned, add soy sauce, ¼ cup cilantro, and ginger.

Slice carrots and cucumbers into matchstick pieces.

Separate lettuce leaves and shape into cups. Top lettuce with chicken mixture, followed by green onions, carrots, cucumber, cilantro, mint, and peanuts. Top with peanut sauce.

For a more complete meal, serve with brown rice.

Why Should You Eat This?

Lettuce cups are essentially the low-carb version of any type of wrap (and they can be used in any cuisine as a substitute for processed bread products: tortillas, bread, hamburger buns, injera, sesame pancakes). Of course, carbs aren’t inherently bad, but in dishes like these, they can add a lot of unnecessary carbs and calories. Using lettuce also allows the main flavors (mint, ginger, cilantro, lime, peanuts) to take the spotlight without being overpowered by doughy carbs.

Peanuts appear twice in this recipe – as a garnish and in the sauce. Peanuts add that unique Thai flavor, but they also add a huge dose of antioxidants: they actually boast the same antioxidant level as strawberries and blackberries. Two of these antioxidants are p-coumaric acid, which has been shown to reduce the level of carcinogenic activity, and resveratrol, which may reduce the risk of stroke, cancer, heart disease, and neurodegenerative disorders. To boost these benefits, pick roasted peanuts (or roast them yourself): doing so increases their antioxidant power by 22%.


Quinoa Salad with Mango and Chicken

One-pot meals incorporate grains, vegetables, and lean protein into one dish, combining a smorgasbord of nutrients into one perfectly balanced meal. Another benefit: with all your ingredients in one bowl, you can eliminate the guesswork of deciding which sides to serve with your main dish. With high-protein quinoa and chicken – and because you can make it ahead – this meal is a great post-workout option. Adding finely chopped kale bulks up the dish and adds powerful antioxidants without overshadowing the tropical taste of mango, cilantro, and mint.

¾ cup quinoa
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
½ cup water
4 chicken breasts
1 ½ mango
1 red bell pepper
¼ cup chopped green onion
3 T lemon juice
Lemon zest
1 ½ T olive oil
1 T red wine vinegar
3 kale leaves, chopped
¼ – ½ cup cilantro, to taste, chopped
¼ – ½ cup mint, to taste, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Fill a saucepan with water and chicken or vegetable broth and quinoa; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low; simmer for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and cool in refrigerator.
2. Grill chicken; allow to cool and then slice into strips.
3. Dice mango and red bell pepper; chop kale, scallions, cilantro, and mint.
4. Zest lemon. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper.
5. Toss quinoa with dressing; add mango, red bell pepper, kale, scallions, cilantro, and mint. Top with sliced chicken.
6. Garnish with cilantro, mint, and lemon zest; season to taste with salt and pepper.If you want more greens, serve over a bed of kale, arugula, or spinach.

Why should you eat this?
Like the Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry, this dish is packed with clean, functional foods – perfect for “the day after” you’ve splurged and want to get back on track. It’s also an ideal post-workout meal for athletes: 29 grams of protein will help rebuild muscle fibers, and complex carbohydrate from quinoa will restore lose glycogen. Quinoa is also rich source of calcium – necessary for proper muscle contraction – and potassium, to promote proper hydration. Kale is colored with chlorophyll, a pigment that oxygenates the blood and improves red blood cell counts to help you power through future workouts, and mangoes contain flavanoids that reduce inflammation.

Since this meal is best served chilled, make it on Sunday and use it as a quick stand-in meal on busy nights or bring it to the office for an easy lunch.

Per serving: 351 calories, 29 g protein, 40 g carbs, 4.6 g fiber, 10 g fat

Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry

This is a great meal for those times when you want your food in the form of pure, healthy, nutrition. You may have splurged yesterday at a tailgate, or maybe you’ve overdone it with the dry carbs. A chicken and vegetable stir-fry provides lean protein, fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants with little else to bring it – or you – down. Restaurant stir-fries can pack in more than 1000 calories from excess oil and sugar-laden sauces, but this dish adds flavor with ginger, garlic, lime, and pineapple. If you’re looking for more bulk, you can add brown rice or buckwheat noodles, but this meal is plenty filling without them. Use this dish to get back on track for a satisfying but healthy, functional meal.

1 large (both halves) skinless chicken breast (or another protein: lean steak, shrimp, tofu)
1 T canola oil
2 T fresh chopped ginger
1 T minced garlic
Salt to taste
A ton of fresh vegetables (choose several): sugar snap peas, broccoli, red and yellow bell peppers, chopped cabbage, mushrooms, edamame, bok choy, carrots, bean sprouts
½ cup chopped green onions
1 cup chopped pineapple
Mint, Thai basil, or peanuts for garnish

2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 ½ tsp lower sodium-soy sauce
2 tsp fresh ginger, chopped
½ tsp honey
1 T lime juice
(sauce adapted from Cooking Light)

Serves two.

Prepare the vegetables. Wash, chop, slice, boil, and blanch if necessary (broccoli’s and snap peas’ flavor and texture improves with blanching).Prepare the sauce: add all sauce ingredients to a small bowl and mix well. For extra spice and bite, use more lime juice and ginger or chopped jalapeño. Reserve for later.

Roast or lightly sauté the chicken (or other protein), using small strips or chopped pieces; set aside and keep warm.

Heat a large skillet or wok and cover its surface with one tablespoon of canola oil. Add vegetables, garlic, and ginger, pushing them around for about one minute. Add the chicken; stir-fry for another minute. Add the chopped pineapple. Drizzle the sauce over chicken and vegetables and stir-fry another minute. Serve over brown rice or buckwheat noodles, if desired, and garnish with mint, Thai basil, peanuts, or green onions.

Why should you eat this?
Although stir-frying and deep-frying share half of their name, their similarities stop there. Unlike deep-frying, as is used in making French fries, chicken fingers, and mozzarella sticks, stir-frying is a method that uses a small amount of oil at a very high temperature to quickly sear or steam vegetables and protein. And while deep-frying often involves breading that pulls in even more fat and calories, the meat and vegetables in stir-fries are exposed to a small amount of oil for a very short amount of time. This allows you to eat tasty but lean protein and plenty of fiber-filled vegetables for under 500 calories.

Stir-fries also have an added benefit over other boiling and cooking methods: because heat can destroy some nutrients, such as vitamin C, the fast sear of a stir-fry helps vegetables retain their nutrients. And unlike other cooking methods, stir-fries are both fast to prepare and cheap to make: including vegetable preparation, the whole meal takes less than 20 minutes to make, and because of their versatility, you can use whatever protein and vegetables are laying around in your fridge, saving you a trip to the grocery store.