Cleanse, Detox, Lunch, Main Dishes, Mediterranean, Salads, Sides, Snacks

Lettuce Wraps + 2 Types of Hummus

vegan lettuce wrapsPeople regularly ask why I use legumes i.e. chickpeas, black beans, lentils, and the occasional soy product in the recipes I post. This is a complicated question to answer in a brief response to a comment, so it seemed logical to incorporate a more detailed explanation of my diet/lifestyle and whether or not it’s paleo, what I consider paleo, etc. into this post.

First of all, I develop recipes weekly or daily according to what I think is healthiest for me or others I cook for. It’s a fine balance of what’s on sale versus what’s in season, what sounds good and what I think my body needs. I don’t eat three set meals per day. Some days I eat only raw vegetables, or an apple with a handful of kale. Sometimes I eat one of those pre-packaged bags of arugula lettuce from Trader Joe’s and nothing else, because it feels right, and I want to. When things get tough I binge on arugula lettuce instead of chocolate. I don’t crave junk food, or sweets, and definitely don’t turn to them to sooth my soul. I still eat foods with fat in them, i.e. sometimes I eat two handfuls of almonds for breakfast, but in those case I usually fast the rest of the day. I never “starve myself” or restrict my food intake intentionally. I just eat when I’m hungry, and I don’t eat unless I am.




I usually fast one day a week, but sometimes it’s more; sometimes less. On days when I work at home I make a pot of steamed vegetables and eat portions of it or drink vegetable water throughout the day. The main thing that draws me to the concept of living a “paleo lifestyle” or eating a “paleo diet” is the hunter-gatherer mentality/physicality/method. In other words, I feel empowered when I listen to my body instead of worrying whether my diet abides by the rules of the “Food Pyramid” or “My Plate” or whatever version of it is the authoritative voice of America at present.

I know that bread makes me feel numb, lethargic, and sluggish. I can’t recall exactly how meat, eggs, or dairy products make me feel, but I know I felt more clearheaded, active, more attractive, and happy when I stopped eating them. I know that legumes can make me feel energized and focused when I feel distracted and sluggish. So I eat them in moderation, as a protein source along with or as a substitute for sunflower, pumpkin, or sesame seeds. I know that too many seeds or nuts make me tired, so I eat them only when I feel the need to. The diet I follow is not a diet per se, but rather an intuitive method of eating that eschews conventional ideas about food in the Western/modern/industrialized world…not to be radical or “take a stand against The Man”, but to tap into the innate mind-body synergy and knowledge that we as humans have possessed well before the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution, globalization, restaurant dining, fast food, government surplus, the food pyramid, fad diets, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, The Atkins Diet, The Zone, etc.

I don’t advocate fasting or any particular # of meals per day. When I fast or eat nothing but raw vegetables I do so because it feels right. On days like that I don’t worry that I’ve eaten too little, just as I don’t worry when I eat more than the recommended amount of seeds. I guess I could sum up my diet as: I never “overeat”, because I don’t like to feel full; vegetable oil i.e. olive oil or canola makes me tired, so I rarely consume it; seeds and/or nuts help me to concentrate, so I eat them in moderation; legumes i.e. beans give me energy, so I eat them in moderation; I eat apples regularly but avoid other fruits (except for the occasional banana or date in a smoothie) because they give me a sugar high followed by a crash. I almost never sweeten things with sugar; stevia works great so why bother?

…Anyway, due to the # of comments I receive about my diet and how to define it…I’ve self-reflected a lot (if the section above is any indication). In the spirit of dietary diversity, for all readers of this blog (whichever end of the paleo-vegan spectrum you lean toward): I included a recipe for low-fat traditional hummus (with chickpeas, but without the oil or tahini that hummus recipes typically call for) along with a legume-free version (with tahini) that utilizes cauliflower and is technically 100% paleo according to mainstream standards.




If you’re paleo-flexible I’d suggest trying both recipes. I especially liked the low-fat chickpea recipe; once I achieved the ideal garlic-cumin-paprika-lemon ratio I definitely didn’t miss the tahini.

for low-fat hummus:

3 cups cooked chickpeas (or two 15-ounce cans)
1/2 cup liquid from the cooked chickpeas (or 1/2 cup liquid from can). Add more if necessary.
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder or 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Tamari or soy sauce to taste

for legume-free hummus:

1 head cauliflower (cut, steamed or boiled, and cooled)
1/2 cup liquid from the cooked cauliflower (add more if necessary)
3 Tbsp sesame tahini
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder or 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Tamari or soy sauce to taste



Method

In the case of both versions, the method is the same. Use a potato masher or similar device to mash the chickpeas / cauliflower, and use a fork to combine with the seasonings and other ingredients. Add broth as you go, so as not to yield too watery a result. Alternatively, use a blender or food processor to pulverize ingredients. In this case, begin by adding only 1/4 cup liquid (as some blenders work better than others, and might not need as much liquid).

Lettuce Wraps with Hummus

hummus lettuce wrap
Makes 8 servings, or 3 lettuce wraps per person approx., depending on the size/maturity of the lettuce head.

Ingredients

1 head romaine lettuce
1 fuji apple
1 cucumber
1 red onion
1 avocado
hummus (see recipes, above)

hummus lettuce wraps

Method

Julienne the apple, cucumber, onion, and avocado.

Separate each leaf from the lettuce head. Wash thoroughly and examine for pieces of dirt or rock. Let dry.

Spread 1-2 Tbsp hummus onto each lettuce leaf (leaf length and width will vary, so this is a ballpark estimate). Add strips of avocado, onion, and apple. Depending on the size of lettuce, you may or might not be able to or want to roll each wrap. I tried this many different ways, and found that some lettuce leaves worked better than others. Larger, more flexible pieces i.e. the outer leaves held together so well that I made “lettuce wrap sushi”.

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