DO-IT-YOURSELF LETTUCE WRAPS
1 head soft-leafed lettuce, such as bibb, leaves separated, washed, and dried
2 cups shredded or diced cooked chicken, or raw or baked tofu
2 cups veggies, such as shredded cabbage, grated carrots, leftover cooked green beans, or sliced radishes
1 cup whole fresh leaves of mint, cilantro, or basil, or a combination
1/3 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
½ teaspoon sugar
Arrange the lettuce, chicken or tofu, veggies, herbs, and peanuts in bowls or on plates. Put the soy sauce, lime juice, and sugar in a separate bowl and stir well.
To assemble a roll, put a lettuce leaf on your plate and pile a small heap of ingredients across its middle, topping it with peanuts and a spoonful of sauce. Fold the sides in and roll the leaf up around the filling, burrito-style.
We’re not sure why, but every now and then these don’t turn out quite right — the mixture is crumbly instead of firm. If this happens, use it as a fruit or yogurt topping and call it “granola.”
½ cup nuts (one kind or a combination of almonds, walnuts, and pecans), lightly toasted in a 350-degree oven for about 5 minutes
¾ cup dried fruit (one kind or a combination of raisins, currants, dried cranberries, and/or chopped dates, prunes, apricots, and peaches)
¾ cup quick oats
¾ cup crispy rice cereal
2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut, optional
½ cup almond or peanut butter
¼ cup honey or maple syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Line an 8-by-8-inch pan with wax or parchment paper and leave enough hanging over the sides so that you can use it to cover the bars later. (You will need a piece a little more than twice the size of the bottom of the pan.)
Put the nuts, dried fruit, oats, rice cereal, and coconut in a medium bowl and toss well. Put the almond or peanut butter and honey or syrup in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave until the mixture is softer, about 30 seconds. Stir until smooth. Add the vanilla and stir again until smooth. Pour the warm mixture over the fruit-nut mixture in the medium bowl and mix with a spoon until well combined.
Turn the mixture out into the prepared pan and pat down as hard as you can. You want to make the bars solid (rather than airy). Using the overhanging wax paper, cover the bars completely. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 1 week. Use a knife to cut into 16 pieces.
PUMPKIN PIE SMOOTHIE
You will use only a part of the canned pumpkin puree, but don’t waste the rest. Measure out quarter cupfuls, freeze them solid on a piece of wax paper on a baking sheet, then store in a labeled plastic bag in the freezer, where they’ll be ready for future smoothies.
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup low-fat milk
½ cup plain low-fat yogurt
¼ cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
½ very ripe banana, peeled and sliced
A dash of cinnamon and/or a dash of nutmeg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ice cubes
Put all the ingredients in a blender. Place the top on tightly. Turn the blender to a medium setting and blend until the ice is chopped and the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute. Serve right away or store in a thermos or covered in the refrigerator, up to 4 hours.
BEST EVER APPLESAUCE
Makes about 3 cups
4 Granny Smith or other tart apples, peeled (if you like) and diced
¼ cup water
3 tablespoons maple syrup
Put the apples, water, and syrup in a pot, then cover and put on the stove. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook until the apples are tender, about 30 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes to make sure the apples aren’t sticking. Set aside to cool a bit, about 10 minutes.
Mash the apples using a potato masher or fork, and set aside to cool until just warm. Serve right away or put in a container and refrigerate until cold. The applesauce will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 4 days.