(Collard) Green Leaf Chicken Rolls

So, I lied. I said that I wasn’t an avid pinner on Pinterest. In the last few weeks, that has changed. I’ve been pinning things left and right, mostly teaching ideas, funny cat pictures, and things I’d make if I could crochet. A few weeks ago, I saw an explosion on my Pinterest wall of lettuce chicken wraps. I thought this was an exceptionally clever idea, especially for a grain-free and gluten-free option. However, there was a slight problem when it came to applying lettuce rolls to me; I’m allergic to lettuce.

Yeah. Yeah. I know. It’s a weird allergy. Shockingly, I know two people (one is family, and the other is a very close friend) who have issues with lettuce, too. You know what they say, birds of a feather flock together. I suppose, since I found two other people who have this allergy, I should start the Lettuce-Free Allergy Coalition, or something like that. Our mascot could be a Tyrannosaurus Rex stopping on lettuce (since he can’t tear it with his tiny arms), or spitting chomped-on lettuce out of his mouth with an expression of ew on his face. Our slogan will be, “Let us not eat Lettuce!” because it’s a punderful slogan. Come on, even you have to agree with the corniness of that motto. At our monthly conventions, we’ll introduce each other with our names and a story, “Hello, my name is X, and I found out that I was allergic to lettuce when I was lost in the Badlands of Montana, being chased by a herd of serial killing buffalo, and I had to hide out for days, starving, because I ate wild lettuce and look what happened! I still can’t get rid of the rash!” Everyone will gasp, and utter things like, “That rash looks like the face of Jesus!” or “Oh you poor dear. Let us help you.” Or, “Lettuce help you!” But that doesn’t really make any sense because if you’re allergic to lettuce, then lettuce doesn’t really help you. But honestly, they could be saying one or the other because both phrases sound alike. So who knows? I mean, if an arch-nemesis hid in the Lettuce-Free Allergy Coalition, they could be saying, “Lettuce help you,” with some very ulterior motives in mind.

If you’re a member of the Lettuce-Free Allergy Coalition, you would have to bring something yummy to eat for the gatherings because everyone needs ideas on how to survive without lettuce because, as is the case with allergies, when you find out that you can’t have something, suddenly everything you’ve ever eaten has lettuce in it! No more burgers with lettuce, apple pie, or ice cream! (Although, I happen to think that apple pie and ice cream with lettuce probably is just weird, like putting ketchup on mac and cheese.) Plus, having a lettuce-free mandate puts the kibosh on any devious arch-nemesis’ plans.

Green Leaf Chicken would be one such recipe that you’d bring to the Lettuce-Free Allergy Coalition. I mean, it’s perfect. You can set it up buffet style and let everyone serve themselves. Plus, if anyone happens to have a soy allergy, you can eliminate that one as well, which would earn you even more points for being so allergy-conscious. Go you. Aren’t you just so generous?

collard green rolls 2

Shredded carrots, our teriyaki sauce for the chicken, seasame seeds, collard green leaves (not yet de-stemmed), and some of the sauce for spreading on the finished rolls later.

I heartily endorse this lettuce-free recipe, and so does the Hubster (although he didn’t at first). My wonderful Hubby loudly poo-pooed my lettuce-alternative suggestion, complaining that the collard greens would be bitter and gross. After his first bite of his collard green roll, he admitted that he was wrong, and proceeded to eat four more rolls. I bet just about everyone else will find that the collard greens perfectly balance out the sweet, spicy, and savory Asian flavor profile that these rolls have. The ground chicken is where most of the flavor is packed as it’s cooked in a soy-free teriyaki sauce. You can serve these with anything; chopped scallions, shredded radichio, mandarin orange slices, water chestnuts, sesame seeds, julienned carrots, grilled pineapple, and other vegetables or fruits that are common among Asian meals. We ended up trying sesame seeds, carrots, and diced sweet onion for our first taste. Yum.

collard green rolls 3

My mouth started watering before I even rolled mine up!

I purchased the collard greens from my farmer’s market for locally-growned goodness that I knew was pesticide-free and non-GMO. The leaves were exceptionally big, so we decided to de-stem them as each half of the leaf would give us plenty of room to wrap up our edibles. We tried them raw, and we also cooked them to tone down on the bitterness. The raw leaves tasted great with everything, but the cooked leaves wrapped better. So proceed whichever way you’d like. If you steam them, you can put a wet paper towel over a stack of leaf-halves and microwave for about 1 minute. Or you can place them in a pot of water, boil them for about 5 minutes, shock with cold water, and pat dry before rolling up your ingredients. Either way – raw or cooked, they were delicious.

So if you want to eat a lettuce-free wrap, have plans to serve a friend with grain and lettuce allergies, or are an aspiring member of the Lettuce-Free Allergy Coalition, this recipe’s a great place to start!

collard green rolls

The steamed leaf (right) was easier to roll than the raw leaf (left), but I thought both tasted equally as good! The cooked leaves aren’t quite as bitter, though.

Green Leaf Chicken Rolls


  • 2 lbs. Ground Chicken (preferably from free-range chicken)
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 TBSP Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
  • 1 TBSP Siracha Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Red Chili Flakes
  • 8 Large Collard Green Leaves, de-stemmed.
  • For the Teriyaki Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Aminos (or Soy Sauce if you're not allergic to it like I am)
  • 1-2 TBSP Siracha Sauce
  • 1 1/2 TBSP Local, Raw Honey
  • 1 1/2 TBSP Freshly squeezed Orange Juice
  • 1 TBSP Fresh Ginger (or 1 tsp Ground Ginger)
  • 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp Fish Sauce
  • Optional Toppings:
  • shredded carrot
  • water crest
  • dice onion
  • chopped scallions
  • mandarin oranges
  • sesame seeds


  1. Mix together all of your ingredients for the Teriyaki sauce. Save 1/4 of the finished sauce as a condiment for the finished Green Leaf Chicken Rolls. The rest of the sauce will be added to the chicken.
  2. Put about 1 to 2 TBSP Olive Oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the ground chicken.
  3. Cook the ground chicken until it is no longer pink. Add your Teriyaki sauce to your chicken. Stir, and then add the remainder of the spices to the chicken. Continue to cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Place your de-stemed collard green leaf halves on a microwave-safe tray with a wet paper towel between each leaf. Cover the top leaf with a wet paper towel, and then place the tray in the microwave on high for a minute.
  5. Place a leaf half on your plate. Add chicken and desired toppings. Fold in one end of the leaf, and then wrap up.
  6. Take a bite and enjoy gluten-free deliciousness!

© Julie Marie Pierpont and Death Defying Diet 2013-Present

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