Happy New Year!!
If you are anything like me, you probably had far too many Gingerbread Cookies and glasses of Champagne to count this past Christmas. As much as I love to indulge during the holidays, I always look forward to the opportunities that the New Year brings. It’s a time of reflection, a chance to break any habits that hold you back, and most importantly, a great time to hit the reset button and give your body a break by eating clean and healthy meals.
What does it really mean to eat “healthy” these days? I try not to get too wrapped up in the hype of whatever new diet trend is thrown at us in the grocery store (you know, the signs that say “Gluten Free” next to the apples.) A lot of my recipes are Whole 30 and Paleo approved. Although that is definitely not my diet 24/7, I do tend to lean towards eating in that direction, especially after the last few months of eating rich and heavy foods.
To me, eating healthy is really all about choosing whole foods and knowing what is best for your body. We all have different needs, but in general, it means choosing to cook most of your meals at home, cutting out processed foods and reducing your sugar intake. Eating clean doesn’t mean that you’re starving yourself or that your food has to be boring. These Thai Venison Lettuce Cups are the complete opposite of that.
I was recently asked to start contributing recipes to Outdoor News. The first recipe I have shared is one of my favorite ways to eat ground venison (that doesn’t involve burgers or meatloaf) for anyone trying to stick to their resolutions. This is not only really healthy but super flavorful.
This recipe is based on a minced meat salad commonly eaten in Northern Thailand called Larb. It is typically served in lettuce cups (I used Boston/Butter Leaf Lettuce) to be eaten as a salad with lots of fresh herbs and an intensely flavorful Thai Sauce, but you can also serve it with rice and other veggies. The ingredients call for fish sauce, but if you can’t find it at your local store you can substitute with soy sauce. You can also adjust the heat level by adding more or less chili peppers. A traditional Larb recipe would also call for toasted & ground glutinous rice, however I decided to substitute it with crushed nuts to give it that crunchy texture.
If you don’t have venison, you can use ground duck, beef or even turkey. Just be sure to drain off any access fat after browning, that step is not included in the recipe below as my ground venison is extremely lean.
- 3 T. Lime Juice
- 2 T. Raw Honey
- 1 T. Fish Sauce
- 1 T. Chili Paste (Such as Sambal Oelek)
- 4 T. Neutral Oil (Such as Avocado or Grapeseed)
- 1 T. Coconut Oil
- 1 Pound of Ground Venison
- 2 Shallots, sliced
- 2 Fresno Chilis, minced
- 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 T. Fresh Ginger, minced
- 3 Green Onions, Sliced
- ¼ - ½ Cup of Mixed Fresh herbs such as Cilantro, Basil, and/or mint, chopped
- 2 T. Crushed Peanuts/ Cashews (Roasted)
- 2 Heads of Boson Leaf or Iceberg Lettuce, leaves separated
- Make the Thai sauce by combining the lime juice, honey, fish sauce and chili paste in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the neutral oil until emulsified. Set aside.
- Over medium high heat, saute the shallots, jalapenos, ginger and garlic in coconut oil until softened. Add the ground venison and brown until cooked through.
- Remove from heat and let the meat cool off for a few minutes. Stir in the green onions, crushed peanuts, herbs and about half of the sauce. Serve the ground meat inside of the lettuce cups and drizzle the extra sauce over to taste.
This recipe was contributed to Taste of the Wild in the Outdoor News publication.