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Les Petits Chefs cook from Half the Sugar All the Love by Jennifer Tyler Lee

Jennifer Tyler Lee on eatlivetravelwrite.comThis week the Petits Chefs had a flying visit from the fabulous Jenifer Tyler Lee who was in town to promote her new book Half the Sugar All the Love. Sidenote: we love Jennifer’s previous book, 52 New Foods (cooking club worked through it in 2014!)

“What’s this about half the sugar?” I hear you ask.

From the publisher:

Would you feed your child a candy bar for breakfast? Of course not. And yet today our children routinely consume three times the recommended daily allowance of added sugar, which puts them at an unprecedented risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, excess weight, and even nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Half the Sugar, All the Love is here to help, with 100 doctor-approved recipes that cut the sugar (by half—or more!) without sacrificing the flavors our families love. It’s an eye-opening education, a program of healthy eating, and a cookbook chock-full of easy, delicious recipes all in one. Pass the breakfast bars!

So yeah, here’s the thing. You might carefully watch what you eat but if you are not someone who routinely reads food labels, you might also be surprised at the amount of sugar you are consuming, unknowingly. SO many foods have added sugar (hello ketchup, tomato soup, hoisin sauce etc…) I remember the first time I showed the boys the labels of a few different bottles of jarred tomato sauce and we saw how much sugar was in a serving (and how sugar was an added ingredient which surprised them too) and how surprised they were. We’ve since learned to make our own tomato sauce in cooking club because, well, it’s pretty easy and hey, tomatoes are naturally sweet so you don’t need to add sugar, they learned! And yes, it tasted “just like the real thing”!

The premise of Half the Sugar is that you can sweeten many foods naturally with fruits and vegetables and mostly, these substitutions don’t make any difference to the way things taste. So why wouldn’t you do yourself a favour and make better-for-you versions of favourite dishes? The recipes aren’t at all what you might think (bland) or loaded with fats and salt to make up for the lack of sugar (which often happens in processed foods); rather they show you clever ways to make favourite dishes at home that taste as good (better!) as if you bought them or made them with overly processed ingredients. What could be better?

The book includes handy information on how to read nutrition labels (such an important skill that I find even many adults don’t know how to do) as well as eye-opening stats on just how much added sugar is in the foods you probably love to eat. There’s a useful section outlining key ingredients needed to make  recipes taste great to set you up for success with the recipes. And the recipes themselves? They include Breakfasts, Snacks, Lunches and Salads, Dinners, Desserts, Beverages as well as Basics and Condiments. Each recipe shows how much added sugar a store-bought version would contain as well as the amount in the recipe (the boys were shocked at the difference in many of these). All in all, a super useful book with information you need to know and recipes you’ll want to make. Who doesn’t want that?

Though Jennifer couldn’t stay very long with us, we went on to cook the Chinese Chicken Lettuce Cups together – the ingredient we made from scratch was the hoisin sauce (jarred sauce contains 35g sugar per 100ml, with sugar being the second ingredient listed after water!). This was a great recipe because there were a lot of jobs to do (keeping little hands busy!)…

Garlic, ginger and green onion…

Kids chopping garlic for Chinese Chicken Lettuce Cups from Half the Sugar All the Love by Jennifer Tyler Lee on eatlivetravelwrite.com Kids measuring ginger for Chinese Chicken Lettuce Cups from Half the Sugar All the Love by Jennifer Tyler Lee on eatlivetravelwrite.com Kids chopping green onions for Chinese Chicken Lettuce Cups from Half the Sugar All the Love by Jennifer Tyler Lee on eatlivetravelwrite.comThe boys did a great job chopping the vegetables evenly:

Kids chopping zucchini for Chinese Chicken Lettuce Cups from Half the Sugar All the Love by Jennifer Tyler Lee on eatlivetravelwrite.comSuch EVEN dicing!

Kids frying vegetables for Chinese Chicken Lettuce Cups from Half the Sugar All the Love by Jennifer Tyler Lee on eatlivetravelwrite.comAnd some brave souls worked with the raw chicken (there are a few squeamish boys when it comes to raw meat!)

Kids cooking chicken for Chinese Chicken Lettuce Cups from Half the Sugar All the Love by Jennifer Tyler Lee on eatlivetravelwrite.comAnd the fun part? Assembling our dish!

First the rice on the lettuce…

Kids assembling Chinese Chicken Lettuce Cups from Half the Sugar All the Love by Jennifer Tyler Lee on eatlivetravelwrite.com Mise en place to assemble Chinese Chicken Lettuce Cups from Half the Sugar All the Love by Jennifer Tyler Lee on eatlivetravelwrite.comAnd then the chicken on the rice…

Assembling Chinese Chicken Lettuce Cups from Half the Sugar All the Love by Jennifer Tyler Lee on eatlivetravelwrite.com

SO good! And no, you would never know we didn’t use jarred hoisin sauce!

Thanks to the publisher, I’m able to share the recipe here today – try it for yourself, it’s a good one!

Yield: Serves 4

Chinese Chicken Lettuce Cups

Chinese Chicken Lettuce Cups from Half the Sugar All the Love by Jennifer Tyler Lee on eatlivetravelwrite.com

This easy dinner is based on a classic recipe for Chinese lettuce wraps. It’s super fun for kids to eat because no forks are required! Our low-sugar Chinese Hoisin Sauce adds plenty of sweetness with very little added sugar.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup medium-grain white or brown rice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into small dice
  • 1 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into small dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 pound lean ground chicken or turkey
  • 1/4 cup Chinese Hoisin Sauce (see quick substitute idea below)
  • 2 green onions, trimmed and minced
  • 8 large butter lettuce leaves
  • Sriracha, for serving (optional)

Instructions

    1. Cook the rice according to package directions. When done, remove the rice from the heat and let it steam, covered, in the pot.
    2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat and add the zucchini and bell pepper and half of the garlic. Season with 1/8 teaspoon of the salt and stir-fry until the vegetables are crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.
    3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the remaining garlic to the pan with the red pepper flakes, if using, and swirl to coat the pan. Add the chicken and stir-fry over high heat, breaking up the meat as you go, until cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Add half of the hoisin sauce and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
    4. Reduce the heat to medium and add the cooked vegetables, green onions, and remaining hoisin sauce to the pan. Gently toss over medium heat to incorporate the ingredients. Season with the remaining teaspoon of salt and remove from the heat.
    5. Place the rice, lettuce leaves, and stir-fry on the table. Have everyone scoop a spoonful of rice and stir-fry into each lettuce cup as they eat, topping with a touch of sriracha if they like.

Notes

Excerpted from Half the Sugar, All the Love by Jennifer Tylee Lee and Anisha Patel, MD, MSPH (Workman). Copyright © 2019.Photographs by Erin Scott. Used with permission by the publisher.


Quick Tip:
To make a quick sub for the hoisin sauce, in a small bowl combine 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce, 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar, 2 teaspoons toasted (dark) sesame oil, 2 teaspoons peeled and minced fresh ginger, 1/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder, 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, and 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper.

Make Ahead: To save time, chop the zucchini and bell pepper 1 day ahead and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.



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Disclosure: I received a copy of Half the Sugar All the Love from the publisher for review purposes. I was not asked to, nor have I been compensated for writing this post and all opinions are my own.

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