Tag Archives: Thai

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%.


Red Light, Green Light: The Best and Worst Picks for Dining Out

When you dine out, sometimes you just want to hit a new Thai restaurant, or the tried-and-true burger joint, or the Italian eatery right down the street – instead of that organic, raw, macrobiotic restaurant that is undeniably healthy. Eating out is a treat, and it can (and should) be a part of a healthy diet. Follow this “stoplight” cheat sheet to learn how to order yummy food without breaking the calorie or trans fat bank. The red light means stop: this dish is one of the least healthy in the restaurant, and you can probably find a healthier but equally tasty meal. The yellow light means approach with caution: this isn’t the healthiest choice on the menu, but you can splurge on it from time to time. And of course, the green light means go right ahead: this dish is balanced with protein, vegetables, and whole grain carbs (and it’s more filling than a cup of soup or a bowl of edamame!).

Check out the first guide, featuring Italian, All-American, Mexican, Chinese, and Mediterranean here and the second guide, featuring Japanese, French, Thai and Indian here at Food Logs and Feedback.