Friday, November 14, 2008

Smoothies & Lettuce Wraps

Its Friday night and Tom is dutifully doing all the dishes so I can write. Yes its late, but our twins, now nearly 11 months old, have awoken twice already this evening. They are great at not sleeping, but somehow we survive on what little sleep we manage to get. I am hoping that by the time they turn a year we will have them sleeping at least a five hour stretch at night.

Stammering down the stairs this morning in a half asleep state all I could think about was water and a tall glass of green smoothie. You see, I nurse those babies all night long and am dehydrated by the morning. Nevermind that I have drunk all the water I had next to my bed during the night, I am thirsty in the morning.

We make a green smoothie nearly every morning with what we have available. This morning it was a tropical-tasting smoothie with banana and pineapple. A few months ago I bought a few pineapples and cut them into chunks and froze them. Today I used a handful of those frozen pineapple chunks, 2 small bananas, 1 large pear, 1 large apple, a chunk of ginger, and 1 Meyer lemon. I added a few cups of water and then blended it all up until smooth and then stuffed the Vita-Mix with as many fresh greens as could fit. I used spinach, collards, and parsley. Blend again until smooth. Drink up! My 3-year-old slammed down a whole glass faster than I did. Oh, hydration, its a wonderful thing!

While the babies were taking their morning nap, I managed to start a pot of garbanzo beans, make a pot of vegetable and leek soup stock, and make lettuce wraps for lunch. My 3-year-old daughter, Grace helped me by skimming the foam off of the boiling garbanzo beans. The white, frothy foam that rises to the top of a pot of cooking beans contains the indigestible starches that can cause your belly to get upset. Soaking your beans overnight, skimming the foam off of the top, and cooking with the seaweed, kombu, all help to make beans more digestible.

When I cook beans, I cook beans! That is to say, I don't just cook a small pot. I cook as much as can fit into my 8-quart stock pot. It is much easier to cook a large pot of beans and then freeze them in 2 or 3-cup containers for future use. In fact, the adzuki beans I used for the lettuce wraps today were in the freezer. All I needed to do was run the jar under hot water and place them into a pot to reheat. Easy!

The garbanzo beans I cooked today will be used for hummus tomorrow, some will be frozen, and some were used in the Fall Vegetable Stew I made for dinner tonight. Served it over quinoa with a green salad on the side. A warming autumn meal.

Lunch today: lettuce wraps, or shall I say lettuce tacos? The romaine lettuce I used was a little to small to be used as a "wrap" so it was a taco. I am often not in the mood for something heavy at lunchtime. I need something light and energizing to keep me going through the afternoon.

This recipe is from our cookbook in the Elimination Diet section in the appendix. Tom created it for Phases 1 and 2 of the diet.

This fall we took a group of 19 people through the diet with weekly cooking classes and meetings. During the first phase of the diet a friend of ours, who was doing the program, approached me and asked me to create recipes she could eat with sauces. She said "just give me sauces and I can eat anything." So I did, and during the next class, elimination diet sauces were born. Atop our brown jasmine rice, adzuki beans, and yam "wraps" comes a creamy, salty, slightly sweet, rich, green sauce made from pumpkin seed butter, coconut milk, fresh cilantro, Herbamare, raw garlic and ginger, and a little agave nectar. I don't have exact amounts for the sauce but I can give you estimates. Use your taste buds and intuitions to find the right balance of flavors. Add a little of this and a little of that, blend, taste, and adjust. Be creative, its simple.

Garlicky Green Sauce

1/4 to 1/2 cup pumpkin seed butter
1/2 cup coconut milk
large handful of fresh cilantro
5 cloves garlic (start with less and add more as your tastes desire)
1/2-inch chunk of peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon raw agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon Herbamare
water (I think I used about 1/2 cup to 1 cup)

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Add water to desired consistency. Add more salt to taste. Drizzle it over cooked grains, steamed veggies, chopped romaine lettuce.

After eating one lettuce "wrap" I decided to just throw the rice on the plate and top it with beans, steamed yams, and crispy chopped romaine lettuce and then smother it all with the Garlicky Green Sauce. Much easier to eat and make. Enjoy!

About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. Hi Ali and Tom. I'm so glad to see Gracie's happy, healthy, green face! I am inspired yet again - smoothies for us tomorrow morning. We've gotten out of the habit. Love and sleep to you all - April

  2. HI Ali and Tom,
    I loved this post! From everything to totally relating to the morning dehydration (I have an almost 11 month old too) to loving the Green smoothies and the delicious sounding Garlicky Green Sauce. The sauce sounds very similar to a peanut sauce that I make with ginger, garlic, cilantro and coconut milk. Sometimes I'll make it with almond or cashew butter. I love the idea to use pumpkin butter but I don't see it very often. The only other thing I put in mine is a touch of apple cider vinegar.

    Thanks so much! I just found your blog and I am already in love. I think we have a lot in common in our food philosophies. You can check my website out at I publish a weekly menu planner for people with food allergies.
    BTW I used to live in Olympia, WA. Beautiful!
    Thanks again,

  3. Hi Sarah!

    Wow, your blog is beautiful, lots of yummy recipes and cooking/planning tips. Yes I see lots in common! I just added a link to your blog under "Other Gluten-Free Blogs." Thanks for sharing! -Ali :)

  4. You have inspired me to cook my own beans this year. I love your blog and your recipes look so delicious! Love the picture of the green
    juice on you dear one. I remember those sleepless nights nursing babies. It's wonderful and beautiful but yet exhausting.
    Healthy and happy New Year wishes!

  5. Hi Ali and Tom,
    I just wanted to share a trick that I've discovered for getting my 7yo daughter to drink green smoothies - I use a little less apple and add ~1cup of frozen blueberries and 2cups of frozen raspberries. She's less suspicious since this concoction looks so similar to the blueberry smoothies I used to make for her before we went on the elimination diet. I have to share that I am now on day 3 of the elimination diet, and I actually craved a green (or purple in our case) smoothie this morning! This surprised me, because after drinking them for 2 days solid during the cleanse - I thought I wouldn't want them anymore.

  6. I have a question about how items move from phase to phase. Some, like vinegar, for example, disappear from the no list by the second phase but are not on the list of things you can then eat/use. The salads I can live on forever and love them but need to do this right and the salad dressing is an issue (I have your green apple recipe!). If it is no longer on the "no" list but not on the "go ahead and enjoy list" can I eat it? Thanks.

  7. Hey Ali,

    I'm on day 6 of the elimination diet and your lettuce tacos gave me a great idea to make cabbage tacos with adzuki beans, avocados, and cilantro. Delicious and super filling. This was my first time trying adzuki beans and I love them.


  8. I love your blog and I'm also enjoying the cookbook. Thank you! I am on Day 5 of the elimination diet and am excited to try these lettuce wraps, but can not locate the recipe in the appendix or in the regular part of the book. Can you please help direct me?

  9. Jan - On page 384 in the Elimination Diet section, Tom has a brief recipe bullet pointed in Phase 1 that reads like this: steamed yams rolled in napa cabbage leaves with adzuki beans and avocado. So my "lettuce wrap" is only a slight variation. Hope this clarifies it. :)

  10. This sauce, elimination diet or not, is one of the tastiest things I have ever eaten. It lingers and tastes better the longer it's on your pallet. I'm on Day 9 of the ED and have yet to enjoy a meal as much as these lettuce wraps with green sauce. It was a relief to be so psyched to eat a meal again! Thank you Ali!!!

  11. I want to do the elimination diet. Is it okay to use chia seeds. How about stevia?

    I've also been reading about a supplement to use during detoxification called "ClearVite". Can you recommend this product?


  12. When your recipes call for coconut milk, do you mean canned or carton? And if you mean canned, do you mean thoroughly stirred, or the milk that's separated from the cream? Also (sorry for all the questions, last one!) if you mean canned, would carton coconut or almond milk be an ok substitute if it's all one has on hand? I've been meaning to ask you this for a while! Thanks Alli! - Julianne

    1. Hi Julianne,

      With the coconut milk, I mean canned, homemade, or the culinary coconut milk you can find in cartons....NOT the coconut milk in cartons that is watered down with added vitamins and other ingredients. If canned, then yes shake the can or stir. It really depends on the recipe, if you want to sub in almond milk where coconut milk is called for it may or may not work depending on the recipe.


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