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BN Cuisine with Chef Fregz: The Lean-Wich

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Salut Fam!

You know how by December 31st many of us have mixed emotions. We take stock of the year in our waist lines as we wipe the juices from that heaven-on-earth jollof rice. Let’s not forget the juicy-fried-then-simmered-in-more-oily-stew or just plain friend goat meat as I prefer or in the name of thanksgiving. We rejoice with a bit too much  with cheesecake and red velvet cupcakes,  sparing half the frosting telling yourself you’re not doing it too much.

In all, you wire a new chapter of Songs of Lamentations and vie for it to be the extra chapter added to the holy book sef. You talk about how you’ve really done it this Christmas and how 2015 is your year! You’re gonna lose this weight! Enough is enough! Beach body on fleck…and it goes on and on.

Jan 1st comes and you swear to yourself that after your family’s new year party you won’t recklessly stuff your whole life with all the puff puff the small chops people fried. Then by the 3rd of January you call all the protrusions in your mid region arms and lower body by name and swear to them that their tenancy is over and you would win in the gym and this FitFam way of eating life.

Then Summer comes and this beach body isn’t still there.

DRATS!

The above is most of us. Losing weight is the top new year resolution since Noah’s Ark I am sure.

However, our intentions are great to start January we are so pumped but demotivation steps in when “we are not seeing results” and we tell ourselves “abeg I no fit come this world suffer like this abeg gimme pounded yam and oha soup!” Then, it’s downhill from there… I can testify! Speaking of pounded yam, Jevenik touched my soul with their Oha soup a few days ago…. chai! Okay… Moving on!

For today’s post I thought of ways we could use what was cheap and very available to make something simple but stunning we can easily fit into our fit am/healthy eating plans.

I present to you the humble lettuce wrap. I know you may be thinking. Lettuce wrap? But trust me,  the real winner here is the avocado sauce! I frankly just dipped lettuce leaves in it and got my life! By the time I mixed with the meat and crunch of the cashews Lord Jesus it was a fire!

The secret here, to be honest, is the mixture of cumin and coriander powder. When trying to change our eating plan you red to find ways to make meals exciting. It should not be bland bland stuff because you are on a diet or changing your lifestyle.  It should be not diet per say. Cumin and Coriander in India are like Taiwo and Kehinde also in Latino cooking. My mum and my aunt introduced these spices to me a long time ago. I couldn’t understand why their chicken curry wasn’t the plain ol’ yellow curry with egg we ate at parties, then they showed me how they use madras curry powder amongst other spices… and boom my world changed!

Cumin and Coriander, are a big part of my cooking in general. It was the perfect way to inject flavour to this dish. This normally would have been a beef sandwich or a nice burrito or flat bread wrap kind of thing, but lettuce is way healthier and to me even tastes better!

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Iceberg lettuce is my lettuce of choice,  but sometimes I don’t  want to spend millions on imported iceberg lettuce. But when you buy really good Nigerian grown lettuce you’re still on the right track! my tip is after washing it leaf by leaf thoroughly because the bottoms parts can be quite sandy allow the lettuce soak in icy cold water. Leave to soak for about 10 minutes and bring out to dry in a colander/sieve and voila you have iceberg lettuce! The cold water crisps it up because lettuce is 90% water and the low temperature wakes it up!

IMG_5429I went back and forth on whether I should use chicken or beef, but I settled with beef for a couple of reasons. First reason being that it’s more accessible than mincing your own chicken or buying minced chicken.  Plus I requested for an extra lean mince; that way, I’m getting all the protein and not fat. I mean you can switch it up and use chicken in its stead by all means. If you find turkey that’s good move too!
However, lean beef is a good option. It’s low in fat and high in protein so you win! You can add whatever vegetables you want or have. I  was okay with a lot of bell peppers, the crunch from a seedless cucumber and some sweetcorn (some sweetness is allowed). Shoprite sells extra lean mince. I got mine from goodies though.

Here’s what you would need {Serves 4}IMG_5396IMG_5418
Lettuce – 2 heads of lettuce – washed and soaked in ice cold water for 10 minutes drained and patted dry (if you use iceberg on enlarge head is fine) Separate the leaves carefully.

Beef Mince
1 kilo lean beef mince
4 cloves of garlic finely crushed
1.2 teaspoons ginger finely chopped
1 medium-large onion roughly chopped
4 medium sized green bell pepper
4 medium sized red bell pepper (tatashe)
4 seedless or regular cucumber (if using regular cucumber take out the excessive seeds by running spoon down the middle) cut into cubes.
3 Fresh Thai chilli or 1 at a dodo (or how ever hot you want it)
1 level tablespoon cumin powder
1 level tablespoon coriander powder
5 tablespoon sliced spring onions
1 tablespoon low fat oil like canola or olive
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 knorr cube (optional)
Salt to taste
Fresh Coriander Leaves for garnish
Toasted unsalted cashew nuts roughly chopped

Avocado Dip
2 ripe avocados
small bunch coriander leaves
1 small sprig spring onions
2-3 tablespoon unsweetened low fat yogurt
1/4 cup olive or canola oil
1 clove of garlic
black pepper and salt to taste
1 cup water (you may not use all)

How To
Start by heating up the tablespoon of oil in a pan. Add the onions and garlic and stir fry till the onions and garlic brown a bit. Add the minced meat and allow to crust a little. It would release a lot of its natural juices/water.  Stir fry till the water has almost evaporated. You don’t need so much oil because the little fat left in the meat is enough to cook the mince. At this point add the seasoning. The coriander, cumin, knorr, salt , black pepper and chilli. Stir around till the water has fully evaporated. You should hear it crackle at this point. Add the vegetables and herbs and stir around till heated through. Check for seasoning adjust if necessary and take of the heat.

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The Avocado Sauce

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In a blender, place all the ingredients placing the olive oil with about a 1/4 of the water first this is to help the blending start very smoothly.

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IMG_5499Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse it to get everything going. Then on the highest speed, puree it till everything is well combined and smooth. While it is running, add the rest of the water slowly through the opening at the top till you have the desired constancy. It should be like light pap or lightly thinned out mayonnaise.

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Avocado is good fat and is a better alternative to perhaps a mayonnaise or a ranch dressing (Did you just think of fried chicken too?). It is high in vitamins, helps lower cholesterol and risk of heart disease. Avocado has at least 10g of fibre which covers a high percentage of our expected daily intake.

To assemble spoon some of the minced meat onto the lettuce meat. Dollop some of the sauce and top with the cashews then all you do next is eat!
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This is great for lunch or dinner and an interesting way to feast communally with friends when they come over. If you feel cumin and coriander isn’t for you or can’t find to buy (although is it widely available even in Iponri market!) you can experiment. Try whatever suits your fancy. Even if you’re really thinking of a burger, when you eat you would actually not miss the burger that much!

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If you have some leftover mince throw it into some egg whites for a fitfam breakfast or run it through some cooked brown pasta with tomato sauce or quinoa for lunch or dinner the next day.

So go ahead and be more resilient this year! #TeamBeachBody2015 try this today!

A Bientôt!
Photogrpahy : Gbubemi Fregene for Chef Fregz
Adebayo Rotilu for Chef Fregz
Seun Kowosi Shoot Assistant
Omaka Oburu Food Writer.

Chef Fregz loves to cook! He is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Paris Culinary Arts School in France and hosts monthly “Chef Fregz Specials” where he whips up a yummy menu with a different theme each time then everyone enjoys a taste. He also caters special events and private dinners. To find out more visit www.cheffregz.com. Chef Fregz provides premium private catering services. For bookings and orders email [email protected] – @Chef_Fregz on Instagram and Twitter. You can check out the Chef Fregz Page on Facebook as well.

5 Comments

  1. 9jafoodie

    January 17, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    this shall be lunch. Thanks Chef.

  2. Tee

    January 17, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    I shall be trying this with cabbage

  3. estell

    January 17, 2015 at 8:36 pm

    Nice but you tell long stories chef.

  4. Oluwaseun

    January 17, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    Looks nice, well garnished but I’m still trying to assimilate the mixture of all this concoction. Looks too bourgeois for me. Welcome!

  5. TA

    January 18, 2015 at 3:34 am

    Article has been bookmarked .Salivating at that avocado dip. Def going to give that a try but as salad dressing. No? Welcome back Chef Fregz and you ain’t lied about Jevenik’s Oha soup,same way Yellow Chilli used to touch my soul with their seafood okro soup 🙂

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