Turkey Meatballs: Part 3 – Turkey Meatball Soup

We’re on to part 3 of  my turkey meatball series, and you’ll have to trust me with this one. When I first heard of turkey meatball soup, I was very skeptical. So one night when Clinton was out of town, I made this dish for myself (I didn’t want him to be a guinea pig for a dish that even I was unsure of). Because I put in the work on Sunday to make a big batch of turkey meatballs – like I’ve been preaching over the last couple posts – I grabbed a few from my fridge and gave it a try. Needless to say, I’m so glad I did!

This dish reminded me of matzoh ball soup. The broth is slightly salty, which adds a different flavor to the turkey meatballs. At the same time, the pops of garlic, onions, and oregano in the meatballs add plenty of flavor to an otherwise boring broth. Besides, it’s kind of fun to break into one of those meatballs and take a giant scoop of meat, cheese, and broth! As long as your turkey meatballs are made ahead of time, it’s a delicious, 5 minute dinner dish that uses only kitchen staples. Added bonus: it’s about 200 calories, over 25 grams of protein, and very low carb. It’s perfect for a lazy Wednesday night.

Trust me, this is delicious. And wouldn’t you want to try any dish that takes only 5 minutes to make?

What you’ll need (1 serving):
4 turkey meatballs
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese

What you’ll need to do:

Heat up your turkey meatballs and chicken broth separately so that the turkey meatballs have the opportunity of heating all the way through. The turkey meatballs take about a minute on high in the microwave. The chicken broth takes a minute on high in the microwave, too – heat the chicken broth in the bowl you’re going to eat the soup in.

Put the meatballs in the warm broth and top with the Parmesan. The Parmesan will get all melty and gooey – delicious! This is an easy one to pack for lunch, too.

Enjoy!

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Turkey Meatballs: Part 2 – Turkey Meatball Lettuce Wraps

Happy Sunday! And welcome back to my 4-part turkey meatball series. Hopefully you have read part 1 of the series about my basic turkey meatball. I talked about the healthiness of it, the easiness of making it, and how delicious it is with pops of onion, garlic, and oregano in every bite. It’s a great basic staple to make on the weekends that allows for easy assembly of different dishes all week.

Depending on the size of your family, double, triple, or quadruple the basic turkey meatball recipe accordingly. It may seem like a lot, but you’ll want these to last you all week. My basic recipe alone is good enough for one: me. But if I’m preparing lunches and dinners for Clinton, too (which I always am), I double the recipe. Like I’ve mentioned before, I have a few go-to recipes to incorporate these goodies all week. Let’s get started with my first one: Turkey Meatball Lettuce Wraps.

The beauty of this is that it leaves you completely satisfied without feeling heavy – if you’ve ever eaten a giant meatball sub you know what I’m talking about.

Instead of throwing meatballs on a bun and slathering them with marinara sauce (which you could certainly do once in awhile for a splurge), I have opted for a healthier alternative.

**Side note: I hope that after reading my blog for awhile, you don’t think “healthy” means “tasteless.” Healthy can be quite tasty. So when I say healthy, I mean that you’re getting all the nutritional value needed to keep you running at your highest level. Cooking healthily just leaves the door open for creativity with spices and textures; I promise that my healthier alternatives won’t leave you craving more.

Since the meatballs themselves have so much flavor, I don’t feel inclined to add fat- and calorie-laden toppings. I’ve substituted the buns for lettuce wraps, which is not only much healthier than a bun but also adds great texture, too. And instead of marinara sauce, I just slice up a fresh tomato. Easy enough, right? Here are the specifics:

What you’ll need (makes 2 servings):
10 turkey meatballs (4 for me, 6 for Clinton)
Head of iceberg lettuce
2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes

What you’ll need to do:

Since your meatballs are already cooked, heat them up for 1 minute in the microwave. Don’t worry about drying them out, they’re already incredibly juicy and can stand reheating.

Carefully peel off a few outer layers of your lettuce. I like iceberg best because it makes great wraps (see my Italian Turkey Burger recipe for another use), but you can also use romaine if you have it. Set 4 large lettuce leaves on your plates for your foundation, 2 on each plate.

Slice your tomatoes in half, remove the stem (as shown here), and thinly slice.

Pile the 2-3 turkey meatballs and half of each tomato onto one lettuce leaf so that you have 2 turkey meatball lettuce wraps on each plate (I find that the lettuce leaves hold better when I split each serving in half). And enjoy!

In less than 5 minutes you have a healthy, delicious dish perfect for any weekday night. Serve with any steamable veggie you already have in the freezer.

Turkey Meatballs: Part 1

Welcome to my 4-part turkey meatball series! For the next few posts, I’m going to try something new. First, I’ll give you a basic item – in this case, a turkey meatball recipe. Then, I’ll take that basic item and build on it for the next few posts to show different ways to use it in your cooking. This is a great way to do a brunt of the work on the weekend so you’ll have quick, healthy meals ready to assemble for the rest of the week.

Turkey meatballs are a great way to start. They’re really tasty with tons of flavor from the garlic, onion, and oregano. But they’re also incredibly healthy because I’ve substituted brown rice for bread crumbs, leaving the calorie count at 162 per serving with 21.4 grams of protein, 7.2 carbs, and very low sodium. And they don’t take too long to make – only about 30-45 minutes depending if you’ve already made rice or not. Not to mention, you’ll already find a lot of these ingredients in your kitchen staples. These babies are a great staple that the whole family will love.

Let’s get started with my basic turkey meatball recipe.

These are great to use in a variety of recipes, but they’re also pretty tasty to snack on, too 🙂

What you’ll need (serving size is 4 meatballs, this makes about 28 total):
1.25 pounds ground turkey – I like Jennie-O Extra Lean Ground Turkey Breast
1/2 medium white onion
5 tablespoons chopped or minced garlic
1/4 cup dried oregano
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1 egg
Dash of salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

What you’ll need to do:

Start by cooking your brown rice. You can instant brown rice or regular brown rice, cooked over the stove or in a rice cooker. Whatever the method, you’ll want 1/2 cup rice and 1 cup of water. If you cook it over the stove, start with both the rice and water in a pot. Bring to a boil, then immediately turn the heat down to low and simmer covered for about 10 minutes.

After the rice is done, prep your space. Have a cutting board and medium mixing bowl out, a large pan on the stove, and a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil. As I roll my turkey meatballs, I put them on the baking sheet covered with aluminum foil so I can pop them in the pan at the same time – the aluminum foil helps save me from washing the dish.

Crack your egg into the medium mixing bowl and scramble. Chop your onion very fine; you want the pieces small so that they mix in well with the ground turkey and other ingredients. Add it to the egg in the medium mixing bowl along with the brown rice, garlic, oregano, S & P. Then, add the ground turkey.

Okay so I didn’t scramble my egg first in this case. Trust me, it’s better and easier if you do. I just wanted to show you what the mass of ingredients looks like.

Use your fingers to combine all the ingredients. This way, I find that you combine the ingredients more thoroughly, and (let’s face it) it’s kinda fun. Besides, your hands will be messy anyway because you must roll out your turkey meatballs with you hands.

After the ingredients are combined, tear off a small piece of the mixture and roll into a 1-inch ball in your hands. Place on the baking sheet as you go, and keep rolling the meatballs until they’re done.

Put on good music or an entertaining TV show to watch while you roll these guys. They don’t take long, but you will be standing there for a few minutes.

Turn your pan on medium-high heat and add your olive oil. Once the pan is heated, add as many meatballs as will fit in the pan. Cook for about 6-8 minutes, constantly turning and rotating to brown all sides – if you’re unsure if the meatballs are done, select the largest one and break open to see if it’s cooked through. If it’s done, feel free to enjoy a small snack. I figure it’s the chef’s prerogative to sample as he/she goes anyway! Work in batches if your pan isn’t large enough to hold all the meatballs.

These smell so good when you cook them. The garlic and onion really pop.

Enjoy! Make one of the upcoming recipes right away, or pack ’em up in a Tupperware and refrigerate to use for the rest of the week.

These would be delicious over regular or whole-wheat pasta, but I want to give you a few extra twists on a classic. So stay tuned for the following recipes:

Tangy Yogurt Veggie Dip

In my opinion, veggies by themselves can be pretty boring – especially if you eat them every single day (as you should). In the interest of being healthy, I make it a point to snack on veggies every day for either my morning or afternoon snack. They’re easy to throw in with my lunch for work, and they’re great to snack on while I’m sitting at my desk. But I always need a little something else, something to go with the veggies that adds a little richness and makes my afternoon snack slightly more filling and satisfying. This is where my Tangy Yogurt Veggie Dip comes in.

Rather than dip my veggies in Ranch dressing – which believe me, I’d love to do – I have this dip to satisfy my craving. Ranch is too fattening, processed, and high in sodium to qualify for a healthy snack; it cancels out the veggies. Instead, this dip has all the creaminess of Ranch, but it’s not processed and it’s high in protein, which adds nice balance to the fiber-rich veggies. Plus, I added lemon juice and a little cayenne pepper for a little zing. It’s easy to make little containers to pop in your lunches for work, or even bring to a BBQ or serve at a party.

This one was inspired by my favorite health expert – Bob Harper.

What you’ll need:
2 tablespoons nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Dash of cayenne pepper

**This makes the perfect serving size for a snack, but increase the amounts based on how much you need. It’s just two parts Greek yogurt to one part lemon juice. Add cayenne pepper to add a little heat.

What you’ll need to do:

Take all ingredients and mix. Simple as that!

I have these little containers that I throw these ingredients in, then seal the lid and shake.

Serve with any kinds of veggies. My favorites are baby carrots, celery, slices bell peppers, broccoli, or cauliflower.

The Perfect Oatmeal

Imagine this: You’ve woken up extra early to go for a run on a beautiful Thursday morning. It’s summer, after all, so you want to take advantage of being outdoors as much as possible. You run along the lake as the sun rises over the water, with your favorite music clearing your mind and waking your senses. After this short but successful run, you return to a quiet house with everyone still asleep; it’s peaceful. After a refreshing shower, you brew a cup of coffee and begin to prepare your breakfast, flipping on the news for a little background entertainment. For breakfast, you need something hearty to restore your energy after your run and prepare you for the day, but you also need it to be simple and hassle-free, not to mention delicious. Enter: The Perfect Oatmeal.

Not only tasty, this surprisingly filling dish will stave off hunger pains ’til lunch.

It’s steel-cut oats cooked in a cup of milk, topped with raspberries and sliced almonds. The oats have the post-workout carbs your body needs, while loaded with good-for-you fiber. The creaminess of the milk adds decadence to an otherwise bland grain, and gives your muscles the protein they need to rebuild. The raspberries add tartness, sweetness, and juiciness, and the almonds add flavor and texture. And there you have it: The Perfect Oatmeal for the perfect breakfast on the perfect weekday morning.

What you’ll need:
1/2 cup steel-cut oats
1 cup skim milk
1 giant handful of raspberries
1 palmful of sliced almonds

What you’ll need to do:

Pour the oats and milk in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 2 1/2 minutes.

Once it’s done, add the raspberries and almonds then stir. Let it sit for just a minute to cool, and enjoy!

It’s important to use the regular, non-instant steel-cut oats. Until recently, I didn’t know how much of a difference they made. I find that the instant kind is mushy and bland. These babies have the texture and flavor that the instant oats are missing. Add the few other ingredients I’ve listed, and you have a 5 minute, heavenly delicious, super healthy breakfast. It’s my latest easy go-to during the week when I don’t have time to make my favorite omlette or pancakes, and it’s great alternative to my overnight oatmeal. Starbucks has nothin’ on this one.

Italian Turkey Burgers

At the risk of sounding super cheesy, this one is healthy for the hips, but tastes naughty on the lips!

This recipe is one of the best happy accidents I’ve made in awhile. In fact, I just made it tonight and was so excited that I had to post about it right away. Turkey burgers have a tendency to be bland, dry, and frankly unappetizing. But at the same time, they’re incredibly healthy, so I try to eat them every once in awhile to mix it up. When I came across a recipe for an Italian Turkey Burger, I was intrigued and thought I would try it out.

This morning, I wrote down all the ingredients I would need and planned to stop on my way home from work. The recipe called for lean ground turkey, crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. Since the seasoning, garlic, and Parmesan are all in my kitchen staples, I knew I had them in my kitchen. All I needed was the turkey and tomatoes. After spending some time at the market gathering ingredients for dinner and other meals this week, I checked out and went home. Not long after getting home, it hit me: I forgot the crushed tomatoes. Shoot!

But then I got to thinking… crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and garlic… that’s basically pasta sauce! And I always have a jar of basic pasta sauce in my cupboard because it’s a kitchen staple. So I swapped out the crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and garlic for my basic tomato basil pasta sauce, and came up with these 3 ingredient Italian Turkey Burgers.

And I must say, these are delicious. Not in the this-is-a-fine-Tuesday-night-meal way. But in the finger-licking, oh-my-God-this-is-amazing way. Because of the pasta sauce, these are juicy and tender, not at all dried out like a typical turkey burger. The sauce and Parmesan add a huge punch of flavor that reminds me of biting into a giant, gooey meatball – and not the healthy kind, the naughty kind.

I wrapped these in lettuce, which gave it a nice crunch and texture to offset the burger – not to mention, it’s much healthier than a bun. But you can certainly put these on a bun, as well, or even eat them plain. You really can’t go wrong.

YUM.

What you’ll need (makes 4 servings):
1.25 lbs lean ground turkey
1/2 cup pasta sauce – I used a tomato basil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

What you’ll need to do:

Set a grill pan (or a large skillet) over medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray.

Dump your turkey in a medium size bowl. Add the pasta sauce and Parmesan, then use your hands to combine.

3 simple ingredients. 1 amazing dinner.

Divide the mixture into four (approximately) equal parts. Roll 1/4 of the mixture into a ball in your hands, then flatten to make a patty. Place these in the pan as you go.

Because the pasta sauce is red, it gives these the allusion of looking like beef.

Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, or until it’s no longer pink in the center.

Wrap in lettuce, put them in a bun, or just eat it plain. Whichever way you choose, get to it! I will definitely be making these often.

Wrapped in lettuce and served with a side of spinach drizzled with a mustard vinaigrette. This unexpected Tuesday night meal was definitely worthy of a Friday.

Egg White Omlette Loaded with Turkey Bacon and Veggies

Happy weekend! As you saw in my pancake post, weekends are my favorite for making killer breakfasts. So if you’re in the mood for something more savory but still super healthy, this egg white omlette is for you. In under 20 minutes, you’ll have a hearty, protein-packed, garlicky, smokey, delicious breakfast. And most of the ingredients are already in your fridge.

With all the flavor packed in this dish, you won’t miss the less healthy breakfasts at all. You’ll still get the creaminess with the bits of Parmesan, you’ll still get the texture of the eggs, and you’ll still get the smokiness and saltiness with the turkey bacon. Eat up and enjoy this guilt-free breakfast.

What you’ll need (makes 2 servings):

  • 1 cup egg whites
  • 4 slices turkey bacon
  • 1 package frozen spinach
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 4 pinches of shredded Parmesan cheese (about 4 tablespoons)
  • As many veggies as you can pack in, such as:
    • Tomato
    • Bell pepper
    • Mushrooms
    • Broccoli
    • Zucchini

**Tip: Use the steamable veggies you already have in your freezer, or toss in any veggies you need to use up in your fridge. The more you pack in, the more full and satiated you’ll feel after eating tons of “free” foods. Spinach is necessary, but all others are optional.

What you’ll need to do:

Pop your frozen spinach in the microwave to defrost because it takes about 5 minutes to cook. Drain out any excess water after it’s done.

Put a large pan over medium-high heat, and spray with cooking spray. Once it’s hot, put in your turkey bacon. You’ll want to brown it on both sides, so cook for a few minutes on one side and then flip and cook a few minutes on the other. After it’s done, remove from the pan and slice into thin strips.

This is what your turkey bacon will look like. Just make sure it’s browned on both sides.

While your turkey bacon cooks, prep your veggies. Chop any fresh veggies you have, or continue defrosting any frozen veggies after your spinach is done. It’s important that all veggies are ready to throw in before you even put eggs in the pan because they cook so quickly.

After your turkey bacon is done and all your veggies are prepped, turn down the heat in your pan to medium heat – you’ll be using the same pan for the omlette that you cooked your turkey bacon in. Put half of your eggs in the pan (about 1/2 cup) so that it covers the entire bottom of the pan.

Throw half of the spinach right on top of the eggs, spreading over the entire surface area. Then, sprinkle half the garlic and Parmesan over the entire pan. Add the rest of your veggies and turkey bacon (half, of course).

YUM, right?!

Because the egg whites cook so quickly, there’s no crazy omlette flipping necessary (a skill I haven’t quite mastered). Use a spatula to fold half the omelette. Don’t worry if it’s messy, you can just call it a scramble instead 🙂 Either way, it’ll still taste just as good.

Rinse and repeat for omlette #2. And enjoy!

**Note: You’ll notice I don’t add any salt. The turkey bacon and Parmesan have enough that you shouldn’t add any more. But you can add a little pepper if you’d like.

Oven Baked Tilapia with Roasted Tomatoes and Spices

Cooking healthy, simply, and deliciously are not mutually exclusive concepts. This tilapia dish accomplishes all three in under 200 calories per serving, with actual prep time under 5 minutes, and with mostly kitchen staples – all you’ll need is a fresh tomato!

** Tip: While I pick up that fresh tomato, I pick up tons of veggies to chop and individually package as grab-and-goes for weekday lunches while my tilapia defrosts (if it’s frozen) and bakes. While my dinner cooks, I get super healthy lunches and snacks set all week!

The tomato adds the perfect amount of acidity to the fish, and roasting them adds a hint of sweetness. After you add in some chopped garlic and some dried herbs for layers of flavor, you have yourself a delicious, easy, super healthy weeknight meal.

There’s nothing better than a light dish that leaves you filling full and satisfied.

What you’ll need (makes 2 servings):
2 tilapia filets (if frozen, defrost in water like I do with chicken)
1 tomato (I prefer vine-ripe tomatoes for this)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano

What you need to do:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line an 8×8 casserole dish with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray – you can use any dish size you have, you just don’t need a big one. Place your tilapia in the dish.

Cut your tomato in half and slice thinly. Layer the tomatoes over your tilapia.

Drizzle the lemon juice over your tilapia and tomatoes. Sprinkle the entire dish with the garlic, basil, and oregano.

Bake for 35 minutes.

You can barely see the tilapia under all those beautiful roasted tomatoes! But trust me, you’ll definitely get tons of flaky forkfuls when you dig in.

Enjoy! Serve with a heaping portion of steamable veggies. Or, throw in Brussels Sprouts with a Kick in the oven with the tilapia – they cook at the same temperature for the same amount of time!