Let us talk about lettuce wraps!
You guys, I am all about the puns and with lettuce – its just too easy and crispy to pass up. But for reals, in all seriousness – let’s answer a question about using leaves as tortillas and bread and dive into which variety to use.
Lettuce as Bread
Thank you Jesus for LETTUCE because omg, it’s the simplest alternative to using bread. While sure there are numerous other keto bread alternatives, but most off the top of my head – unless you buy pre-packaged take work.
With lettuce, you just wash, cut, fill with your favorite fillings and eat! But there in lies the question – what type of lettuce should I use when making wraps? Let’s look at my top 3 favorite and dive into why each works well as a bread alternative.
Just keeping it real here. I am a huge Mexican food junkie. Using lettuce as a tortillas instead of flour tortillas or corn tortillas opens up my keto taco game!
Types of Lettuce
According to Wikipedia, there are actually 7 main groups of lettuce. Sheesh. Here are the main groups.
- Leaf – Also known as looseleaf, cutting or bunching lettuce This type of lettuce has loosely bunched leaves and is the most widely planted. It is used mainly for salads.
- Romaine / Cos – Used mainly for salads and sandwiches, this type forms long, upright heads.
- Butterhead – Also known as Boston or Bibb lettuce and traditional in the UK as “round lettuce”. Butterhead lettuce has a loose arrangement of leaves, known for its sweet flavor and tender texture.
- Summercrisp – Also called Batavian or French crisp. Summercrisp lettuce is midway between the crisphead and leaf types. These lettuces tend to be larger, bolt-resistant and well-flavored.
- Celtuce / Stem – This type is grown for its seedstalk, rather than its leaves. Celtuce is used in Asian cooking, primarily Chinese, as well as stewed and creamed dishes.
- Oilseed – This type is grown for its seeds, which are pressed to extract an oil mainly used for cooking. It has few leaves, bolts quickly and produces seeds around 50 percent larger than other types of lettuce.
- Red Leaf Lettuce – This type resembles romaine except in its tips, which have a red ir purple tinge.
Lettuce for Wraps
When making lettuce wraps, my favorite lettuces to use are iceberg, romaine and butter lettuce. Honestly, let’s be honest. On a given day, unless I have intentionally purchased lettuce for a certain recipe – I will grab whatever is my fridge. So make sure that you add at least one of these lettuce types to your grocery list!
Iceberg lettuce is what you will get when you order a protein-style In-n-Out Burger. They hand-leaf the lettuce to delicately wrap your burger so you feel as if you are eating a burger with bread, but you aren’t.
With this lettuce, you will get a crispy crunch, but do know whatever you are using the iceberg lettuce for, whether it be a low carb lettuce wrap or keto tortilla – it tends to fall apart easily unless you wrap the it with the leaf just right.
While this is a delicious alternative to bread, my favorite way to eat iceberg lettuce is shredded. Typically, you can purchase shredded iceberg lettuce in your produce section next to the bagged lettuce.
Carbs in Iceberg Lettuce
According to Carb Manager, there are 2 net carbs in iceberg lettuce for a 2 cup serving.
Romaine lettuce is another great low carb bread alternative. The long leaves are great for filling with ingredients.
I typically purchase romaine hearts. These are pre-cut and perfect for grabbing to make an easy meal. The good thing with romaine is that it is very hardy and holds up well.
TIP: Try seasoning and grilling romaine for a unique twist!
Carbs in Romaine Lettuce
According to Carb Manager, there are 3.1 net carbs in romaine lettuce for a 2 cup serving.
The last of my favorite types to use for wraps is butter lettuce. The delicate taste is not only delicious but good for you!
Butter lettuce forms cups that are great for using as a low carb tortilla. Use for making keto tacos or low carb chicken wraps.
Carbs in Butter Lettuce
According to Carb Manager, there are 2 net carbs in butter lettuce for a 2 cup serving.
Wash Your Greens
I feel a responsibility to write this if I am writing about greens. Please, for the love – wash your lettuce!
Also, as much as I love me some lettuce – and yes, I am perfectly aware that brownies don’t get recalled.
E Coli Outbreaks
The CDC is calling these situations “outbreaks”. Visit the CDC website to stay up-to-date with the latest lettuce outbreaks (and other foods, just saw hard boiled eggs were on the list!)
Why All the Lettuce Recalls?
I know, I too scratch my head asking why does it feel like there is always a lettuce being recalled? Popular Science wrote a piece on this.
Unlike the E. coli strains that actually benefit your gut health, the O157:H7 strain is a known foodborne pathogen that commonly causes national outbreaks. When romaine comes into contact with O157, it passes infection to humans and animals. Ultimately, the strain’s origins can be difficult to track.
When an outbreak occurs, scientists view irrigation water sourced from dirty canals as a prime suspect. A November 2018 FDA report on the Yuma County, Arizona outbreak isolated the offending O157:H7 E. coli in an irrigation canal. How and when the bacterial strain entered the canal, however, is unknown.
Irrigation systems are also not the only spot in the supply chain where contamination can occur. Though processing facilities sanitize romaine before chopping it, a few infected plants can contaminate hundreds of pre-cut salad bags headed for grocery stores. This complicates FDA investigations.https://www.popsci.com/story/health/romaine-lettuce-recall-ecoli/
I hope this article helps you in determining the best lettuce to use for your next wrap. Happy Keto-ing!