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Becky Varner: Wrap it Up, I'll Take It

Dietician Becky Varner puts a new spin on the wrap.
BY BECKY VARNER Published: August 22, 2012

Wrap sandwiches are trendy, have great taste and are simple to make. There is a wrap for everyone! They can be as simple as peanut butter and sliced banana on a pita or exotic including specialty fillings, sauces and sun-dried tomato or spinach wraps.

Are they healthier than traditional sandwiches?

Many healthful versions of wraps that incorporate current dietary guidelines are available, but some are high in fat, high in calories and low in fiber. It all depends on the ingredients used. Some wraps include grain, protein, vegetables and dairy and a simple fruit salad to complement the wrap, which makes it a complete meal and incorporates something from each group in MyPlate.

Whole wheat tortillas are a great option for making a wrap because they are a whole grain and it is recommended that half of the grain servings be whole grains. Many are also low in fat. Whole wheat pita bread is another example of a whole grain that is also generally low in fat. Romaine lettuce, green or red leaf lettuce and cabbage leaves are other choices to use for the wrap and these add more vegetables to the meal.

There are many great low-fat nutritious fillings for wraps. Fresh chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, shrimp and crab are lean animal-based proteins that work well in wraps. Lean ground beef seasoned with taco seasoning is great protein to use in a Southwest wrap. Plant-based proteins such as beans and lentils can also be used. Higher fat meats such as bacon, pastrami, sausage, pepperoni and many cold cuts will add more fat, calories and sodium to the wrap.

Pay close attention to condiments. Light mayonnaise, mustard, low-fat salad dressings, salsas and hummus are great for adding flavor and moisture. Cream cheese, sour cream, regular mayonnaise and salad dressings add lots of fat and calories.

Add plenty of different colored vegetables to make the wrap healthier. Good options include thinly sliced or finely chopped purple onions, thinly sliced bell peppers and tomatoes, grated cabbage and carrots and sliced artichoke hearts. Grilled vegetables are especially good in wraps served hot.

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Lemon and Basil Chicken Salad Wrap

Makes 6 servings


1 pound skinned chicken breasts

¼ cup Miracle Whip Light

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ cup chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons honey

3 cups fresh spinach leaves, washed and dried

6 8-inch whole wheat tortillas


• Place chicken breasts in a large pan of hot water and heat water to a gentle simmer. Cook chicken breasts 20 to 25 minutes until chicken is completely done. Remove chicken from stock and when cool enough to handle chop in a food processor or using a sharp knife. Cover and refrigerate.

• Meanwhile combine Miracle Whip Light, lemon juice, basil, mustard and honey in a medium bowl. Whisk to blend. Add chopped chicken breast and stir to mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

• To assemble wraps, spread each tortilla with 1/3 cup of chicken salad. Arrange ½ cup fresh spinach leaves on each. Start rolling the tortilla on one side and continue until completely rolled. Secure with a couple of decorative toothpicks and cut in half to serve.

Nutrition Information: This recipe makes 6 wraps. Each wrap contains approximately 233 calories and 4.6 grams fat.

Serving Suggestions: We served our wrap with a cluster of beautiful purple grapes, cabbage slaw and garnished it with green leaf lettuce and lemon slices.

Shrimp Salad in a Romaine Lettuce Wrap

Makes 4 servings


¼ cup Miracle Whip Light

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon paprika

2 cups chopped red bell pepper

2 cups frozen cooked shrimp, defrosted (8 ounces defrosted weight), and drained

1 medium avocado, seed removed, peeled and diced

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

8 Romaine lettuce leaves, washed and dried

Decorative toothpicks


• In a medium bowl combine Miracle Whip Light, black pepper and paprika and stir to mix well. Add red bell pepper and shrimp and stir.

• Pour lemon juice in a small cup. Add avocado and toss to coat with lemon juice. This will keep the avocado from turning dark.

• Add to shrimp mixture and toss gently.

• Place four Romaine lettuce leaves on flat surface and then place a second leaf on top of each to make stronger. Divide shrimp mixture on each.

• Roll edges on the stem end of lettuce leaves to the middle and overlap the opposite side to form a cone shape. Leave the top part of the lettuce leaves open to show the shrimp salad. Secure with decorative toothpicks.

Nutrition information: This recipe makes 4 servings. Each serving contains approximately 139 calories and 9 grams fat.

Serving suggestions: We served ours with watermelon wedges, tomato slices and two thin whole grain flat buns with melted part skim mozzarella cheese.

Learn with Lunch

Becky will teach Learn with Lunch at noon Tuesday at the Buy For Less at 2500 N Pennsylvania Ave. For reservations, call 302-6273, ext. 332.


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