With my 20 years of experience as a food writer, I've learned the first week of January (really, the whole month) is all about low-calorie meals. New Year's resolutions aside, after six weeks of mostly eating outside our normal guidelines, January needs to be a "slimmer" month. Since I eat what I write about, the readers' needs become my personal needs, too.
But one problem I have always had in adjusting to the lower-fat recipes is that my body wants full-fat flavor after all the cakes, creamy drinks and buttery entrees I consume over the holidays.
I've found that Asian-inspired flavors are bold and mouth-popping and don't usually have the high levels of fat and calories of cream, butter and sugar. Today's recipe for Beefy Asian-Style Lettuce Wraps is perfect. There's texture from the crisp lettuce, plenty of flavor from the spices and sauces, and appetite-gratifying protein from the lean beef. In short, this is the perfect light dinner for a cold January night.
I love to add some heat with just a splash of sriracha hot chili sauce. Traditional hot pepper sauces such as Tabasco can also be used. As for the rest of the ingredients, they are easily found in the Asian section of the grocery store. They will keep for up to six months in your refrigerator, so adding them to your dinnertime fare will not cost you a bundle. After all, it's not just our waistlines that feel the tightening in January; it's usually our wallets, too.
Suggested menu: Beefy Asian-Style Lettuce Wraps with orange sections and sparkling water
• Alicia Ross is the co-author of "Desperation Dinners!" cookbook series. Write her at Kitchen Scoop, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit the Kitchen Scoop website at kitchenscoop.com.