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Vehicle to Inspire
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Vehicle to Inspire

By Annessa Chumbley, RD LDN


Here’s a fun idea … let’s think about all the ways you can eat protein without bread.  Think of the food item as a “vehicle”…the mode by which we move protein from our plate to our mouth. My idea of vehicles is to use the shells of vegetables instead of starchy breads. The best part is, this is usually where the most fiber, antioxidants and nutrients are…for the lowest amount of calories! Use one of these vehicles to inspire your cooking journey!


Cucumber Rounds: pile on any combo of meats and cheeses! Or use as chips to dip in hummus and salsas. As a breakfast treat, place sliced hardboiled egg on the cucumber round, and a sprinkle of salt on top. 


Celery: use these boats to fill with everything from natural peanut butter to tuna salad or cottage cheese!


Bell Pepper Cups: stuff with mini meatloaves and bake! Or fill with fresh light chicken salad to be enjoyed on a picnic.   


Purple Cabbage: peel off a cupped leaf and fill with two slices of deli meat and cheese. Dip in mustard for a quick, easy, and healthy lunch!


Squash Pasta: cut zucchini and yellow squash into spaghetti-resembling strips. Sauté and put ground turkey tomato sauce on top!   


Apple Slices (slice apple horizontally, so you have a flat surface): top with Canadian bacon, low-fat cheddar cheese and some chopped green onion, and you have a delicious treat! Or grill for a great appetizer!   


Tomatoes: stuff with any combo of seasoned lean ground beef. Bake until done!


Portobello Mushrooms: these big mushroom caps can have an alternative personality as a bun for lean hamburgers! Just grill up and go!


Here’s a recipe to try which includes a vehicle.


Steak Wraps with Mango Chutney


Looking for a way to spice up your dinner?  Steak Wraps are your answer! These delicious bundles are hearty and light at the same time. 



1 lb. skirt steak (or sirloin)

½ cup red wine vinegar

¼ cup light soy sauce

2 cloves garlic, smashed

½ lime

1 head Boston lettuce

2 carrots, sliced into ribbons or strips

1 jicama, sliced into thin strips

mango chutney, recipe follows


Method of Preparation

1. In a large sealable bag, add red wine vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and lime. Salt and pepper both sides of skirt steak and add to bag. Marinate for 1 hour (at least!).

2. In a skillet on medium heat (or on a grill), cook steak 5 – 7 minutes, flip, and cook 5 – 7 minutes more, or until barely pink inside. Remove from grill and let steak set for about 10 minutes before cutting.  

3. Pull “cups” off head of Boston lettuce, and rinse clean. Slice steak into thin strips on the diagonal. To serve, take cup of lettuce, and place strips of carrot, jicama, a few thin strips of steak, and spoon two teaspoons of Mango Chutney over steak. Perfect for an outdoor party! 


Mango Chutney

½ cup red wine vinegar

juice of 1 lime

1 shallot, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

3 Tablespoons Splenda

1 ripe mango, chopped

½ red bell pepper, finely chopped

2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon chili powder

2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped


Method of Preparation

1. In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients. Cook over medium heat until a simmer is reached.  

2. Let simmer until reduced, about 15 minutes. Chutney should be thick and jam-like! Perfect served over meats or salmon! 



Yield 4 – 6 servings


Nutrition Analysis

Calories 215 Protein 21 g Carbohydrates 4 g Total fat 8 g Cholesterol 45 mg Sodium 75 mg Fiber: 1 g