Crew Mess: Trade buns for lettuce

Aug 10, 2018 by Capt. John Wampler

Crew Mess: by Capt. John Wampler

One of the things I find most difficult while working on yachts is maintaining a strict diet plan. We work long hours with infrequent breaks, and at the end of the day, we’re exhausted. Exercise? Pull this, lift or climb that – yacht work is a workout program in itself. But where I tend to stray off course (pun intended) is with my dietary intake.

While trying to lose weight by cutting my calorie and carbohydrate intake, cravings can be subconscious triggers.  A burger or sandwich will satisfy that craving, yet blows my whole regime.

Lettuce wraps are a great solution for staying on course. By simply substituting a lettuce leaf for a bun or bread, I save calories and carbs and can have a healthier version of my favorite meal.

For instance, the average burger contains around 53 grams of carbohydrate, nearly all of which come from the bun. By replacing the bun with lettuce, which contains less than 3 grams of carbohydrates per serving, I automatically save myself around 200 calories. I also get the added benefits of the vitamins and minerals from the lettuce. So drop the bun and wrap your head around lettuce.

Thai Lettuce Wraps (Yum Nam Sod)

Cooking spray
1 pound ground chicken (or pork)
1/2 cup thin vertical slices red onion
1/3 cup finely chopped green onions
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon minced, peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon chili paste with garlic (or substitute Sriracha chili)
2 tablespoons dry-roasted peanuts (lightly salted)
2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
1/2 head romaine or bib lettuce, separated into leaves

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Coat pan with cooking spray. Add meat to pan; cook 5 minutes or until done and crumbled.
Remove meat from skillet and set aside to cool.
Add peanuts to hot skillet and roast until they start to brown.
Mix onion slices and all remaining ingredients (including roasted peanuts) in a medium bowl.
Let stand 10 minutes.
Stir meat into onion mixture; sprinkle with peanuts.
Serve meat mixture in lettuce leaves.


Capt. John Wampler ( has worked on yachts for more than 30 years. His recipes are casual enough for anyone to prepare. Comments are welcome below.