East Meets (South)West

Today I wanted to share a little recipe (sort of) for a meal that we came up with last night and then made for lunch today. The end result was basically a lettuce-wrapped burrito, but the idea came from lettuce cups. So we took the eastern lettuce wrap and combined it with the south western taco/burrito and it turned out pretty well.

Simple Start
I talked about Simple Start just a little bit last week, and we’ll probably get into it in more detail when we actually have the time to write it all out instead of just doing the quick posts that we’ve had to lately out of necessity/time constraints. Basically, Simple Start lets you stop tracking your points in exchange for making you eat from a “small” (quotes because it’s actually fairly large) list of foods that are healthier for you and take your body longer to process which means you’ll feel fuller for a longer period of time. You eat as much as you need to, so you stop when your body signals to you that you’re satisfied, so you don’t have to weigh and measure what you’re eating.

One of the things that’s good about Simple Start is that it allows the majority of the proteins that you would normally eat anyway, except that some of them have certain restrictions such as ground beef needing to be at least 95% lean or else you do have to count points for it. The drawback is, the things that aren’t part of Simple Start (aka. Simply Filling) are often things that you need to create certain meals that you might be used to. For example, let’s say you’ve got ground beef, shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa, assorted vegetables, 45-calorie bread and tortillas at home and you need to figure out what you’re going to cook for your next meal. The first thing I would think of in that situation, which is the situation we were in last night, is burritos. While we can have burritos on Weight Watchers while we’re using the PointsPlus method, tortillas are not allowed in Simple Start unless you want to spend your weekly points on them (49 points for the whole week).

The “Recipe”
While we were driving back home from Amarillo last night we were talking about what to do for lunch today with the things we already had available at the house. The two things that kept coming to mind when we were thinking about what to do with the ground beef was sloppy joes and tacos/burritos. Neither of those things can be done on Simple Start because sloppy joe sauce does not count as a Power Food (those are what you’re required to eat for Simple Start, I can give details or examples if anybody needs them), and neither do tortillas or taco shells. That doesn’t mean we can’t eat them anyway, it just means we’d have to spend our weekly points on the things that aren’t allowed.

So we started to come up with alternatives that would allow us to eat the meals that we wanted by making simple changes. We didn’t have any other type of sauce that would work as a substitute, so the sloppy joes were out. For the tacos/burritos though we were thinking about some of our options. Since shells or tortillas were the thing we needed to get rid of, I knew we needed some kind of base that provided the structure you needed and/or a simple flavor that did not contrast with the fillings but did add bulk to the meal so that you got full without having to eat a lot of extra protein.

Rice was my first thought, which would work well but completely lose the taco/burrito concept since you’d just be eating it all with a fork. The next few ideas all fell into the same trap as they were similar things like couscous. But then I remembered an appetizer we ate at a Mongolian grill a couple of weeks ago (not for the first time) which was lettuce wraps. We could use the green leaf or romano lettuce in place of a tortilla or shell, but otherwise treat the meal as though we were eating tacos or burritos.

I went for the big leaves of lettuce first, so I started out with something like this:

Then I rolled it all up like a burrito and ate it like this (though I did wrap all those lose ends of the lettuce better when I had access to both of my hands after setting the phone down):

I had intended to use the lettuce in a burrito fashion to begin with, so I was surprised when Jenny mentioned that this was the new way to have Taco Tuesday, and I looked over to see her eating hers like a taco instead. So I grabbed a couple of the smaller leaves of lettuce and made myself a couple of mini-tacos too.

Overall we both think this was a great success. It allows us to eat the flavors that we want in the way that we want without consuming the extra points for the filler. If we were really craving the flavor of the taco shell or tortillas then we could certainly go ahead and use them, but we don’t need to. The lettuce provides the crunch that you’re used to having, and it serves well as a vessel to get the food from your plate to your mouth. Unless we’re feeling those cravings in the future, I’m pretty sure this is going to be the preferred method of doing tacos and burritos at our home from now on.

As far as recipes go, it doesn’t get a whole lot simpler than this:
Ingredients
95% (or better) Ground Beef, as much as you’ll need to feel satisfied (we used 3/4 lbs)
Fat-Free Cheese, if you’re not doing Simple Start use whatever cheese you want (we each had probably 1/3 cup)
Desired Condiments, we only used salsa but could have added Fat-Free Sour Cream or similar products
Green Leaf Lettuce, or any other green that’s sturdy enough to support everything else
Taco Seasoning
Water, for the taco seasoning as needed (seasoning packet will tell you how much)

Instructions
1. Brown your meat in a skillet on high
2. (Optional) Remove excess fat/moisture from the skillet using paper towels
3. Add taco seasoning and water
4. Bring the beef, seasoning & water to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer per your taco seasoning’s instructions
5. Take your individual leaves of lettuce and add meat, cheese, and other toppings as desired and either roll into burrito shape, or fold into taco shape
6. Eat until you’re satisfied
6a. Insert into mouth
6b. Chew
6c. Swallow
6d. Repeat step 6
7. Leave us a comment and tell us how fantastic it was

That’s all there is to it!

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. OrnaBakes
    Jan 07, 2014 @ 16:37:48

    Great idea Jason! Sounds yummy. Thanks for sharing. I’m LOVING Simple Start – hope everyone won’t be too intimidated by not counting and measuring and will give it a try!

    Reply

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