Thai Lettuce Wraps – A Recipe To Help Athletes Maintain Iron Status

Thai Lettuce Wraps- a tasty meal that helps athletes maintain iron status

bison meat can help maintain iron status

This recipe for Thai lettuce wraps is one of my favorite for preparing red meat, which is a great source of heme iron.  This recipe is easy to prepare,  tastes great and has very healthy ingredients.
Female athletes often struggle to maintain their iron status.  Iron stores are affected by a complicated balance of diet, iron absorption, training load, sleep and blood loss due to menstruation.  Doctors use ferritin levels to determine iron status; ferritin is a protein that stores iron.  If ferritin levels are low then the reserves are low and must be addressed.

High training loads or high intensity training blocks can deplete iron stores in some females, and what may be considered fatigue could actually be progressing anemia.  Regular blood tests to check for deficiencies prevent this.   If you have been feeling tired, lethargic or depressed it might be anemia so it is prudent to have your blood tested.

Many athletes can manage their iron stores with a good diet- eating lean red meat and leafy green vegetables is a good start.  The following recipe for Thai Bison Lettuce Wraps is easy, quick and delicious and bison is a lean source of iron-rich protein.

Ingredients and Directions


2 lbs extra lean ground bison meat (beef, turkey or soy ground will also be tasty)

1 red onion

2 cups grated carrot

1 minced red pepper

1 tbsp grated ginger

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp Hoisin sauce

¬ľ cup sweet chili sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

1 head of iceburg or butter lettuce, each leaf separated intact, rinsed and dried


2 cups jasmine rice (or quinoa)

1 can coconut milk

1 stalk lemongrass

2 lime leaves

2 cups water


To make the rice, place all the ingredients in a saucepan and turn heat on med/high until the mixture heats to a slow boil. Cover, turn to minimum heat and cook until all liquid is absorbed. The coconut milk does encourage the rice to stick so you may want to stir it a few times during cooking.

For the filling, sweat the onion in the sesame oil until translucent and add the ground meat. Brown the meat completely as the flavor is improved if the meat is seared in the pan and cooked all of the way through. Add the ginger and garlic and cook 2 more minutes. Remove from heat. Add the carrots, peppers, hoisin sauce and sweet chili sauce and mix thoroughly.

Serve in a large bowl with lettuce piled up like tortillas. Fill each lettuce cup with two to three spoonfuls of meat and vegetables (and rice if desired) and wrap like a burrito. I like to use two lettuce cups per wrap for added crunch. Enjoy!

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