Just another Saturday over here in quarantine and so far I’ve ate these healthified copycat Reese eggs from my friend Jessica’s blog, napped, watching more episodes of Younger (I haven’t watched this much tv since I was in grade school) and drank water. A classic day over here lately. My hope is to go for a walk since it’s super nice today and I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen or felt fresh air in 48 hours. These past few days, I’ve been feeling if I don’t do much during the day I’m not “productive” or useful and then it drags me into the a pretty negative mindset. Whenever I feel those thoughts creep in, I try to bring myself back to the fact we’re all just trying to survive, stay healthy and do our best when it comes down to it. Most days I’ve been getting a yoga practice in which helps boost my mental health but I’m hoping to make more of an effort every day to have less screen time and more book/reading time. Sooo, trying to do more of that AND more cooking! That’s where these meatballs come into the picture.
If there’s been one thing quarantine has helped me with it’s to realize how to be more mindful with how much money I spend weekly on going out, groceries and how creative I can get in the kitchen with what I have on hand. For the last 3 weeks, I’ve only made 1 trip to the grocery store per week (I do delivery from Whole Foods 2x a month for specialty items) and usually I’m the type that goes 3-4 times a week or when I “crave” something, I go out and get it. I know, I know – not a good thing. It’s definitely been something I’ve struggled with in the past few years but I always prefer to buy way less at a time and continuously go to the store than overbuy and waste food.
So far, I’ve been pretty good with not overusing and things that start to go bad (produce wise) I just freeze like greens (great for smoothies) or cauliflower rice (also great for making smoothies thicker! or throw into a stir-fry).
There’s one item in my fridge that never gets the chance to go bad and that’s my TURKEY MEATBALLS! If you’re new to Chickpea in The City, I’ve been making turkey meatballs pretty much every week for the last 4-5 years. They’re super simple, great to throw with everything from veggies to pastas (duh) and a staple in my diet. You can easily swap turkey for chicken and I’ve even done this exact recipe with grass-fed lamb too. I make them very simple (less than 10 ingredients) and usually dairy-free but in the last few months I’ve been loving parmesan so I add opt for that instead of nutritional yeast. What cheese you opt for is completely up to you but that parm does give the classic meatball flavor.
Since we’re in quarantine, I always try to add substitutions and modifications for you because it’s always nice to work with what’s on hand. Most classic meatball recipes call for breadcrumbs but to make this paleo friendly I always use Simple Mills Pizza Dough Mix. When I worked for Simple Mills in college and up until the beginning of 2019, I would have their mixes on hand daily. My cupboards were basically flooded with them so there was no need to buy breadcrumbs when I had the pizza dough mix on hand.. hence why this recipe was born! This past week I ran out of the mix so I made my OWN breadcrumbs here… with this bread found at Whole Foods.
Homemade breadcrumbs are possibly the easiest thing to make and are MUCH FRESHER than store bought. What do ya know?!
The meatballs pictured above are pesto-less (I used olive oil instead for moisture) because I was out but adding pesto if you’ve got it always ups the flavor profile. No matter which option you go for, they’ll taste beyond delicious. Make them on a Sunday as meal prep to have through the week and use a few of my favorite sauces to pair them with:
• Gotham Greens vegan pesto (local to Chicago)
• Primal Kitchen Foods sauces including their steak sauce or ranch (both paleo)
• Tessemae’s sauces (very similar to Primal Kitchen) like their ranch and BBQ sauce
Normally, I’ll make the meatballs with air fried potatoes and veggies and when you make all of it ahead of time, life really gets THAT much easier. Healthy meals in a pinch!
- 16 oz organic ground turkey (or chicken)
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast (or grated parmesan)
- ¾ cup Simple Mills Pizza Dough Mix (or use ¼ coconut flour + ½ almond flour)
- 1 pasture-raised egg
- 2 tbsp vegan pesto (or sub olive oil)
- 1 cup arugula (chopped)
- 1 tsp ground garlic
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp rosemary
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp himalayan pink salt
- Preheat oven to 400º. Set aside a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick silpat cookie sheet.
- Combine all ingredients from the turkey to the salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix until well combined.
- With a small ice cream scooper or tablespoon, scoop out and roll into roughly 3-inch sized balls. Feel free to make them a bit bigger if you want but these were smaller sized and made about 12. Usually I make 9 and make them slightly bigger.
- Place a few inches apart on your baking sheet.
- Pop in oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, flip with a spatula and cook for an additional 10.
- Take meatballs out of oven, allow to cool 10 minutes and serve. These will stay good in a tupperware in the fridge for 5-7 days.
As I mentioned in the recipe above, I usually go for Simple Mills Pizza Dough Mix but by all means but around 3/4-1 cup of whole wheat or Italian breadcrumbs would work here just as well. Just eyeball it! Meatballs are very forgiving but the best part is that start to finish these take 30 minutes. Probably why I absolutely love making them.
The final product below is made with cauliflower gnocchi from Trader Joe’s (I toss it on a baking sheet with no oil and flip half way through for 30-40 minutes), grated parmesan and sautéed mushrooms and greens with Rao’s Marinara. Truly the easiest 30 minute meal and my favorite thing to eat quarantined on my couch under my weighted blanket.
I hope you guys enjoy this recipe, make it every freakin’ Sunday like I’ve been doing and tell your friends how good meatballs are now. Simple meal prep and great for date nights, too. I made these for Dustin a few weeks ago for lunch with some air fried french fries and he looooved. My job here is done!
Happy Saturday, friends.