Easy dinner recipes: Low-calorie lettuce wraps for Gluten-Free Wednesday

It's Gluten-Free Wednesday. When you're looking for easy on-the-go solutions, you can't go wrong with a wrap. Keep it gluten-free using lettuce or cabbage. And keep it fun -- and calorie-conscious -- with tempting beef, shrimp and Philly cheesesteak ideas. Each of these options comes in at 225 calories or less per serving.

Beef lettuce wrap: Tender beef is flavored with a combination of soy sauce and Thai chili sauce, then tossed with crunchy water chestnuts and fresh mint, cilantro and green onions for a dinner that comes together in only 25 minutes.
Shrimp artichoke lettuce cups: Or try a simple shrimp and artichoke filling. These cups come together in only 45 minutes, using colorful radicchio as a lettuce cup.

Philly cheesesteak lettuce cups: Want rich Philly cheesesteak but looking for a diet-friendly option? These treats have all the flavor for a fraction of the calories.

If you are sensitive to gluten, check all ingredients to make sure they are gluten-free before using, as many may contain trace gluten (such as spices, a number of which include flour as an anti-caking agent), and/or are produced in facilities that also process gluten-based products.

You can find the recipes below.

And for more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at



Total time: 25 minutes | Serves 4 as an appetizer

Note: From chef Andrew deGroot of Yu Restaurant & Lounge in Santa Monica.

10 ounces lean (20% fat) ground beef
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1/2 cup diced water chestnuts (strained of all water)
1/4 cup sweet Thai chile sauce, such as Mae Ploy brand
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons kechap manis (Indonesian soy sauce)
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped mint
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons sliced green onions
1 large head bibb lettuce, cleaned and leaves separated

1. Saute the ground beef until thoroughly cooked, about 5 minutes. Using a fine mesh strainer, drain the beef of all juices and oils.

2. Place a medium saute pan over high heat. Add the grapeseed oil. Saute the water chestnuts until crisp, 2 minutes. Add the beef, sweet chile sauce, soy sauce and kechap manis. Mix until the sauces are incorporated. Cook about 1 minute. Add the mint and cilantro, mixing well.

3. Transfer the mixture to a 4-ounce bowl and garnish with the green onions. Place the bowl onto a larger plate (the restaurant uses an 8-inch-square one). Surround the bowl with the lettuce leaves. Serve with a spoon for scooping the filling into the leaves.

Each serving: 225 calories; 13 grams protein; 8 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 16 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 41 mg. cholesterol; 1,121 mg. sodium.


Total time: 45 minutes | Serves 4 as an appetizer

Note: You can substitute romaine leaves for the radicchio.

2 large artichokes (about 1 pound each)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/8 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine
2 teaspoons cornstarch
8 ounces peeled shrimp, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup thin rice sticks (optional)
2 tablespoons oil, divided, plus additional 2 to 3 cups for deep frying (optional)
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced lemongrass
1 tablespoon chopped green onions
1 teaspoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (including stems)
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 head radicchio, separated into leaves and stem ends trimmed

1. Trim the artichokes, removing the leaves and trimming any outer hard green portion left on the bottoms. Cut the heart in half and discard the fuzzy choke. Bring a small pan of water to boil. Add the lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of salt. Then add the artichoke heart halves, cooking until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain. When cool enough to handle, dice the artichoke. You'll have about two-thirds cup diced artichokes.

2. In a small bowl, mix the sugar, soy sauce, rice wine and cornstarch. Stir in the shrimp. Marinate for 15 minutes.

3. If using the rice sticks, place 2 to 3 cups of oil in a small deep-sided saucepan. Heat the oil to 375 degrees. Add the rice sticks and remove when they puff and float to the surface, a few seconds. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet or plate. Let the noodles cool. Break into small pieces and put in a small serving bowl. Set aside.

4. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a nonstick skillet. Add the garlic and cook until golden, about 1 minute. Add the shrimp and stir-fry. When the shrimp is almost cooked through, add the remaining tablespoon of oil, diced artichoke, lemongrass, green onions, vinegar and cilantro. Heat through. Season with salt and white pepper.

5. Transfer the filling to a bowl and serve with radicchio leaves and, if using, puffed rice sticks.

Each serving: 181 calories; 15 grams protein; 14 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fiber; 8 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 86 mg. cholesterol; 561 mg. sodium.


Total time: 20 minutes | Serves 1

Note: Adapted from "Hungry Girl: 200 Under 200: 200 Recipes Under 200 Calories" by Lisa Lillien. Lillien writes, "We're kicking unwanted calories and carbs to the curb here by serving up our cheesesteak in lettuce cups instead of on a giant doughy roll. Who's smart? WE ARE!" Hungry Girl Tip: Freezing the beef slightly will make it easier to cut.

3 ounces raw lean beefsteak fillet
Nonstick spray
1/3 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup thinly sliced onions
1 slice fat-free American cheese
2 leaves romaine, butter or green leaf lettuce

1. Slice the fillet crosswise into thin strips about one-eighth inch thick. Set aside.

2. Spray a medium pan with nonstick spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat to a small bowl and set aside.

3. Re-spritz the pan with nonstick spray. Cook the fillet strips over medium-high heat until browned on each side, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes on each side.

4. Break the cheese slice into small strips, place on top of the meat -- still in the pan -- and continue to cook until the cheese has melted slightly, less than 1 minute.

5. Remove from heat and mix the cheesy beef strips in with the mushrooms and onions. Serve in the lettuce "cups."

Each serving: 174 calories; 24 grams protein; 7 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 5 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 40 mg. cholesterol; 307 mg. sodium.