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What I love about food bloggers is that no two think alike.  I am catching up on blogs I follow and I am amazed by the variety of posts in the new year. Though one thing that all posts seem to have in common is a shift to healthy eating.  From detoxing, green wraps, hearty breakfasts, to utilizing winter vegetables we all seem to be changing habits by changing what we cook in the kitchen.

I am no exception at the dawn of this new year.  Though I love the holiday spirit, I am ready to say goodbye to the holiday fare of pies, cookies, and pastries.  For the time being I will be saying goodbye to butter and saying hello to coconut milk.  I will trade in potatoes for whole grains.  2014 has a lot to offer and I intend to test it all in the kitchen.

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These lettuce wraps are a take-off of my Sesame and garlic-ginger baked tofu with soba noodles and avocado.  I adjusted the measurements this time to bring out the cilantro and pine nuts.  I’ll confess that I would’ve served the wraps with fresh cilantro and green onions if I’d had the time in my rush to photograph.

When the tofu bakes, it absorbs the marinade and browns.  This is my new favorite way to prepare tofu because 1. it is quick and easy and 2. the tofu stays firmer when browned.  Unfortunately, the oven seems to soak up a lot of the flavor (I am being sarcastic but does the liquid evaporate when baked?), so you may want to mix up some extra marinade and cook the tofu on the stove until it is absorbed.  I recommend that if you do so, focus on the liquid ingredients and add additional garlic and herbs if needed.  As Gordon Ramsay says, always taste your food as you cook.

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I whipped up some sauces to compliment the Vietnamese nature of the marinade and to mimic my favorite Yard House lettuce wraps.  Is anything better that peanut butter dipping sauce?  My friend at All Things ReCreated helped me perfect this garlic-ginger peanut butter sauce, adapted from The Talking Kitchen, when I cooked for them in September.  I also made a Vietnamese chili lime dipping sauce which I found at SFGate.  Look for thai chilis at Whole Foods or an Asian market.  They are super hot, so adjust accordingly.

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Sesame and Garlic-Ginger Baked Tofu Lettuce Wraps

Marinade

      • 4 Tbs low sodium soy sauce
      • 2 Tbs rice vinegar
      • 1 Tbs honey
      • 1 Tbs sesame oil
      • 2 garlic cloves, made into a paste with a fork and sea salt.  For some illustrations, look here and here and my post here.
      • 1/2 Tbs ginger, minced
      • 1 cup cilantro leaves
      • 1/3 cup pine nuts

Lettuce Wraps

Directions

      1. Preheat oven to 400º F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
      2. Wrap the tofu in paper towels and cover with a heavy bowl while preparing the marinade.
      3. In a large bowl, mix the soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, sesame oil, garlic cloves, and ginger with a whisk.
      4. Slice the tofu into 1/2 inch squares and mix with the soy sauce mixture, cilantro and pine nuts.
      5. Spread the tofu and marinade onto the parchment paper.
      6. Bake for 20-30 minutes, turning the tofu every 10 minutes until the marinade is absorbed and the pine nuts are toasted.
      7. Serve on prepared butter leaves and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.
      8. Enjoy with your sauces of choice!

Garlic-Ginger Peanut Butter Sauce

Ingredients

      • 2 Tbs low sodium soy sauce
      • 2 Tbs rice vinegar
      • 2 Tbs natural peanut butter
      • 2 garlic cloves, made into a paste
      • 1 Tbs ginger, minced

Directions

      1. In a food processor blend all ingredients, adjusting the peanut butter and soy sauce + rice vinegar as desired.

Vietnamese Chili Lime Dipping Sauce

Ingredients

      • 2 thai chilis, sliced into thin rings
      • 1 thai chili, reserved
      • 1 garlic clove, sliced
      • 3 Tbs sugar or agave nectar
      • 2/3 cup warm water
      • 1-1/2 to 2 Tbs fresh lime juice
      • 5 Tbs fish sauce

Directions

      1. Chop by hand or pound the 2 chilis, garlic, and sugar in a mortar into a wet paste.
      2. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and add the warm water, lime juice and fish sauce, mixing until the sugar is dissolved.
      3. Taste and if desired slice and add the reserved chili.
      4. Set aside for 10 minutes before serving.
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