When Gardein asked me to check out some of their new frozen meatless meats to review on Endless Simmer, I figured it was the perfect thing for my current low-cal redemption period. (Sigh…)

Between Cinco de Mayo two weeks ago and an especially booze-and-bar food soaked girls’ getaway in Arizona last weekend (which I will be posting about very soon!), my body is pissed. I’ve been stuffing myself with melted cheese, guacamole, and tequila for two straight weeks now and I’m not feeling the greatest, both internally (ugh, I feel like I’m a heartburn factory) and externally (wake-up call: this is not my “bikini bod” at its finest, especially when I’m going to an island wedding in two weekends).

So clearly I need to rein it in a little bit this week. The other night I cooked Asian lettuce wraps for boyfriend Rob (an ultra-carnivore) and our roommate Dayna (a vegetarian) and… the impossible was achieved! Everyone loved this dinner. Probably because it’s flavorful and meaty, yet meat-free and light.

Meatless Lettuce Wraps

Normally I don’t like packaged frozen foods, but I’ll make an exception for quick, healthy options like Amy’sKashi and certain Trader Joe’s entrees… and now I can add Gardein to the list. Luckily, their meatless meats are made from all-natural vegetable proteins (soy, wheat, and pea proteins plus vegetables and complex grains) so I don’t feel guilty about splurging on a little frozen shortcut. Apparently nobody else in my house minds either! I’ll definitely be cooking with this stuff again – I’m excited to try other products in their line. Their “meat” kiiind of reminds me of the fake meats from In The Bowl in Seattle – anyone who has eaten there knows that’s high praise!

Meatless Spicy Lettuce Wraps

Makes 4 main course servings

for wraps:
1 package Gardein Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick’n
1 package Gardein Szechuan Beefless Strips
1 large white or yellow onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1/3lb shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
fresh head of butter lettuce

for filling sauce:
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp jarred Huy Fong chili garlic sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp agave nectar
juice of 1/2 fresh lime

for topping:
cilantro, roughly chopped
cashews or peanuts, roughly chopped
lime slices

for dipping:
Sweet chili sauce

Cook the Gardein “meats” according to packaging (spoiler alert: it’s insanely simple, you just sauté them with a little bit of hot oil in a skillet for 3-4 minutes. I still love my meat, but honestly this is the most fool-proof protein cooking job ever). Set aside and throw your vegetables in the same skillet on medium-high heat. Add in all the sauce ingredients and cook together, stirring occasionally, for about 10-15 minutes. Add extra chili garlic sauce if you’re craving a little extra heat.

If you want chunky wraps, leave the Gardein as in and add back into the veg mixture, but if you’re like me and you want your wraps a bit more finely mixed together, chop the proteins into smaller pieces and mix back in. Your choice. Once everything’s mixed together, let it hang out in the skillet over low heat while you prep your choice of toppings. I love using the chili-lime cashews from the bulk section at Austin’s Central Market, but if you don’t live around here, Trader Joe’s has some similar nuts.

Make sure your butter lettuce is washed and dried, then load up your leaves with filling and top with your accompaniments of choice and serve with a side of delish Mae Ploy sweet chili dipping sauce. It’s just sweet enough to compliment the salty, garlicky filling and the hot spice of the Sriracha. These wraps are so satisfying, I originally made myself four but was totally full after three and had to attempt to force-feed the last one to Rob.

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