Lettuce wrap it up for the day: Soy-free Asian inspired mushroom, nut, seed, veggie lettuce cups

Today is the Chinese new year – year of the monkey. On my way home I smelled mushrooms cooking in some sort of soy sauce and it made me crave something Asian with mushrooms. I have really grown into mushrooms over the last few years. I used to hate them…all the way into adulthood until I finally tried a dish at one of my favorite vegetarian restaurants in New York City called Zen Palate. It was called mushroom forest and and was a chopped medley of shiitake, wheat gluten or soy, celery and other goodness that was eaten in a lettuce shell. Since coming to Calfornia, I have been making something similar, but without the wheat gluten or soy, and that is full of nuts and seeds for protein. It is shiitake, kale, carrot, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, pine nut medley served in a lettuce wrap. And it was perfect for a new year celebration.

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Oh, Yeah. Kickstart my new start: Mayo-less avocado based egg salad lettuce wrap

I started this blog earlier this year as embarked on a “smart start” whole30-like program. I was needing a change in my life – needing to challenge myself to think differently. And it worked. I quit my job, found a job that is more compatible with my current life, changed my eating habits, rediscovered my passion in the kitchen and have been inventing recipes left and right. I have been backlogged on writing posts on my most recent creations – and I will post those soon – but I knew it was time to challenge myself again, foodwise and to get out of this rut I am stuck in. So when a friend proposed the Whole30, I was all over it. Day one is tomorrow and I had meals planned based on a vegetarian Whole30 for the rest of the week. But of course, all that planning forgot to take into account my schedule…first preschool field trip for my little one, and I am chaperoning. Tomorrow. Early morning. On day one of the food challenge. Soup was the worst possible thing I could make for a lunch on a school bus. So it was time to create. Sandwich was the first thing that came to my mind…without bread made only with whole foods. So I made a mayo-less egg salad using avocado, spices and veg wrapped in lettuce topped with avocado, fennel and sunflower seeds.

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Let’s taco bout avo-tacos: fried avocado lettuce wrap taco with cabbage and zucchini slaw, sriracha “aioli” and pico de gallo

Living in southern California, all anyone ever wants to eat is a fish taco…and when it is beer battered and fried, there is no doubt that it is the item to order. I recently had a great fried avocado taco in East Nashville (I did not expect to find excellent tex-mex in Nashville) at The Local Taco and decided I had to recreate it at home and to take it to the next level with a beer batter. But of course, I have to do it my way – vegan, gluten-free, dairy free with no refined sugars, adding in as much protein as possible and filling it with whole food goodness.

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V is for Veggie, with a side of eggie

Today was one of those days I am thankful that I cook in advance and cook in large batches so I have food for several days. As a veggie, these Whole30-like program can prove to be difficult without some thought and advance planning (especially for someone like me who refuses to call a smoothie and a side of veg a meal and refuses to break the rules with legumes and quinoa in the first few weeks).

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