I’m on a mission to build meals centered around vegetables and other greens, and using lettuce is an easy way to do so. This is a classic recipe, where you add a bunch of flavorful Asian-style ingredients to a leaf of butter lettuce. Wrap and munch.
It’s fun and easy, and lets each of us customize our wraps. Most ingredients are fresh (and raw), and together they form a crunchy, flavorful package. For this lettuce wrap I made a very moist five-spice pork inspired by this recipe from Williams Sonoma, but this can easily be replaced with other seasoned food such as sauteed chicken, vegetables, or brown rice. And any kind of dressing can be added to give even more flavor to the ingredients.
We’re charting new territory here, as I remove or reduce meat from our meals. I’m trying to find a balance so that it doesn’t seem like something is missing, and my goal is about 20% meat or less each day, and some days, none. To find out why, read about our initiative below.
Our latest Crohn’s initiative Our plant-based diet effort comes together in the wake of us finding a new naturopathic medical doctor (ND) for my son with Crohn’s. Our goal is to get my son off of methotrexate and on to a low a dose of naltrexone. I thought some of you might be interested to know our treatment plan in case you are looking for a solution, or are curious about why we’re doing this. We’re still working with our GI doctor, and we’ll be sharing all this with him soon.
The plan is to shift to a mostly plant-based diet, and remove red meat from our diet since it is pro-inflammatory. White meat is less pro-inflammatory, but we’re still staying on the low % for all meat. We’ve already been incorporating anti-inflammatory food and herbs into our diet, however this is a bigger step, especially since some of us here love red meat.
Other parts of the treatment include a daily gulp of orange-flavored fish oil, billions of probiotics, B-12 dots, Vitamin D capsule, multivitamin powdered drink, along with extra folic acid (on top of what he takes for the methotrexate). Whew. Did I get it all? I hope so. The trick for my son is getting out the door on time with all this stuff in him, including his breakfast and lunch packed. This teenager is a trooper. No room for forgetting homework, last minute assignments, or sleeping a bit late. Up at 6 am and out by 6:45 am. I don’t know how he does it. I’m so proud of him.
Five-Spice Lettuce Wraps
- 1 head of butter lettuce
- 1 carrot, julienned or pealed into strips
- 2 cups of bean sprouts
- 1/4 cup of sliced almonds or peanuts for garnish
- 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
Five-Spice Pork Ingredients
- about 4 pounds of pork shoulder, cut into pieces
- about 4 teaspoons of five-spice
- 2 teaspoons of sea salt
- 2 teaspoons of fresh grated ginger
- 2 yellow onions, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, pressed or crushed
- oil for browning
- about 1 cup or so of chicken broth or water
(This recipe was improvised by me and may not reflect what the official spice tastes like.)
- 2 teaspoons of anise seeds
- 2 teaspoons of roasted Szechuan peppercorns (I used 1 dried chili pepper, crushed, since I didn’t have these on hand; and I’ve also made it without this spice for those who are avoiding spicy foods)
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
- 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
Grind all the spices together in a coffee grinder, spice grinder, or food processor.
- Prepare the five-spice recipe.
- Heat a frying pan with some oil in it.
- Combine the five-spice and salt in a flat bowl or plate.
- Cover the pork pieces with five-spice on each side, and then brown each piece in the frying pan on both sides (a few minutes on each side).
- Once browned, place all the pork in a slow-cooker or dutch oven.
- Back to the frying pan, place the onions, ginger, and garlic in the frying pan and heat for a few minutes.
- Add some of the chicken broth to the frying pan to wash all the ingredients into the slow-cooker.
- Add the rest of the chicken broth to the slow-cooker and cook for about 3 hours, or until the pork is tender and easy to shred. Cover the pork about 1/2 of the way with broth (or water).
- When the pork is done, skim off the fat from the top and pull the pork apart with a fork and/or knife.
- Bring all the green ingredients together and you are ready to start making and eating lettuce wraps. A little squeeze of lime enhances the flavor of the shredded pork.
Back in February, I was told I had Crohn’s Disease. At age 32, it was quite a shock. Thanks for your website. I have eliminated gluten and dairy from my diet and most sugar (other than in chocolate). I may try your macaroon recipe soon!
Thanks Alicia! I’m still in a bit of shock that my son is sick since we’re a pretty healthy bunch. Best wishes, Erica
Hi Deborah. Yes, I’m working on staying more alkaline as well. Welcome!
I just found your website. I just found out that I have silent reflux so I am looking for recipes where the ingredients have a pH of 5 or more. My husband is allergic to wheat. Thanks for putting your recipes online. I am going to try some of your recipes.
Hi – just discovered your blog and am loving pouring over all your recipes. I’m trying to cut back on flour and sugar and your site is a goldmine. Just wanted to second the grass-fed beef option. Grass-fed beef is lower in omega 6 fatty acids and higher in omega 3 fatty acids than conventional beef. Might be an occasional option.
Hi Nicole. yes on the occasional option tactic. As a matter of fact, it’s his birthday this weekend and my gift to him is a steak dinner :).
I been following you blog for about 6months now. I have found some great recipes and inspiration. I really commend and respect a parent that seeks out answers when a loved one is struggling with an illness. I too have an auto-immune disease that I was diagnosed with at age 7. I’ve been on methotrexate, prednizone, cytoxin ect ect. Now at age 36 and after a long journey I have finally found some real answers to better health than what traditional medicine has offered. Please, consider looking into and researching this concept of the link between fungus(mycotoxins)and disease. My heart goes out to those young families like yourself just starting off in search of answers for their children’s health. More Info at Knowthecause.com and ThinkFungusFirst.com It is close to what you are already applying which is why I have enjoyed some of your delicious recipes.
Thanks for the info and best wishes.
I am enjoying seeing grain-free healthy recipes. I am so inspired to see more food blogs popping up like this.
As a Holistic Health Counselor with both personal and professional experience on the SCDiet and GAPS Diet, I find that for both my clients and me, the raw fermented foods in small quantities is beneficial to aide in digestion and assimilation of protein foods, yet that eating regular raw foods in the early stages can be an irritant.
Also, I have found that eating small amounts of high quality, grass-fed red meats like beef or bison is beneficial as an iron source, as most with bowel disorders can be anemic. Also, eating grass-fed meat does not promote inflammation and because it is high in beneficial omega fats that are anti-inflammatory.
Best wishes to you and your son in his healing journey. I have faith that he will be among the thousands of us who have reversed chronic GI illness. What a lucky guy to have such a supportive mom!
Best wishes to you and your
Thanks Emily. I agree – small amounts of red meat – very sporadically – can be beneficial, however I don’t know if the pro-flammatory nature of red meat can be reduced significantly by buying grass-fed (which I’ve always done btw) – see here: http://www.livingwithrheumatoidarthritis.com/Red-Meat.html. Like calcium, Vitamin D, Iron can be obtained from other sources of food. Thanks for stopping by and best wishes.
dr cynthia leeder
I love your blog site and refer many patients to it all the time, after reading this blog I just want to share a thought that raw food might be very difficult for a crohn’s bowel to break down. What part of the country do you live in perhaps I can help you find a great naturopath.
You might also go to http://www.glutenfreetina.com she also has a 9 year old with crohns and got her degree in nutrition so she could help him. You might also look at food allergies – Metametrix.com has a blood test that looks at 90 foods a person could be allergic to. But that is only the beginning – also do a GI test through them instead of a medical test to get a more specific idea of what is going on in his gut. Another thing is to find out what his neurotransmitters are doing.
Just a thought.
Hi Cynthia – thanks! Yes, with active Crohn’s some raw food will be hard to digest. I would encourage you to do more research on raw food, because if prepared well, the enzymes present in raw and fermented food can actually aid digestion, even with active Crohn’s. We’re happy with our ND, but please feel free to leave readers any resources you think will help them find an ND or medical doctor. The trick with Crohn’s is that different things work depending on the person and the state of the inflammation. We’ve had years of every test known to the medical and naturopathic community. Thanks for your help. Best wishes, Erica
I find that when I’m following the SCD I tend to crave meat more (probably because it’s filling and satisfying)–but in general I prefer to eat vegetarian, so I am excited to see what other kinds of recipes you come up with that are mostly plant based (but grain-free). I hope it isn’t too much of a struggle for you guys!
Also, I notice that you use the Szechuan pepper–do you (or does your son) find that spicy foods do a number on the digestive tract? I used to love spicy food, but my digestive tract can longer take it–if I have much of any relatively-intense spice it can throw me into a flare.
Great recipe idea! I also recently went back to a mostly veggie diet. I tried SCD, but found I do better WITH rice & gluten free grains in my diet.
The hardest change recently was giving up spicy foods! I LOVE spice! But I read about my AB blood type in the Eat Right for Your Blood Type Book, and found that incorporating the “Blood Type Diet” into my current gluten-free/dairy-free/sugar-free diet made amazing improvements! So bye bye peppers & spice. And hello happy tummy!
I will be trying a brown rice version of your wraps asap! I also think I will handle the five spice just fine in this recipe, but agree with the other post about troubles with spicy foods in general.
Yes – I agree on the spicy stuff. By the way, I’ve made this pork recipe without the pepper (Szechuan or chili) and it came out great. So you don’t need the spicy pepper to make it. Hope that helps.
Thanks Gina! Yes, my son and I avoid very spicy foods, however a bit is ok. I haven’t actually used the Szechuan pepper, but I’ve been told it is a bit milder than chili pepper. Spicy food can be very hard on an active digestive disorder, so yes, we go very easy on the spicy stuff 🙂