Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

This week we are featuring a guest blogger, fellow caveman, Jim R.  Going Paleo has been so rewarding in so many ways.  But, having friends and family join us on the journey and share in the benefits is definitely at the top of the list.  Pre-Paleo, we would indulge in the most amazing homemade lasagna at Jim’s semi annual ‘Lasagna-palooza’ events.  He is an amazing cook – and here he is to share a Paleo-ized version of a classic favorite:

Guest blogger Jim here. Since I saw the light of the Paleo diet through Chuck, I’ve not only lost a bunch of weight, almost 30 pounds to date, but I’ve felt a lot better. I don’t think that I can overstate how much less bloated and upset my stomach has been in the past several months.  As someone who likes to cook what can only be called indulgent meals, going Paleo was a bit of a challenge, but one I have fully embraced. The new challenge is finding creative ways to cook a Paleo meal and reduce that longing for something that is so much worse for me.

Case in point, on a recent evening as storm was blowing through Chicago, I was left pondering what to make for dinner. Considering the options we had in the fridge, I came upon some ingredients that included ground turkey, farm fresh eggs, scallions, and cilantro. My initial idea was to make some kind of taco-ish something with the turkey, but then a light went on.
Meat-a-balls!
Meatballs are a very adaptable option for anyone since they can be made from any ground meat. Combined with some homemade tomato sauce, they make a great meal.
For my version of turkey meatballs, I combined garlic, scallions, cilantro, parsley, and basil with some ground turkey, bound together with a farm fresh egg. The real key with meatballs is getting them nicely browned; the browning adds some nice layers of texture and flavor that adds to the heartiness of the dish. Finishing the meatballs by simmering them in some homemade tomato sauce is a great way to enhance the deep flavors and keep it healthy. Served with some baby spinach on top and you’ve got a great mid-week, rainy day, use up some fridge items meal.
Next time, I might plan better and cook some spaghetti squash to get the whole “spaghetti and meatballs” feel.
Here is my recipe:
·         1.25 pounds of ground turkey
·         3 cloves garlic, minced
·         3-4 scallinons, minced
·         1 Tbsp minced cilantro
·         1 Tbsp minced parsley
·         1 Tbsp minced basil
·         1 large egg
·         Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl until well mixed.
Form the meatballs in you desired size. I find that a #20 disher is a good size, or about 3 tablespoons, is pretty good.
Next, heat about 2 Tbsp olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat, and add the meatballs. Cook the meatballs for about 3 minutes, or until browned on one side, flip, and repeat. Depending on how big your pan is, you may need to work in batches.
Once the meatballs are nicely browned, add some tomato sauce to the pan, add all of the meatballs, and reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes.
I like to serve about 4 meatballs in a bowl over some baby spinach.
A note on tomato sauce:
As someone who self-identifies as a “cook”, adopting the Paleo lifestyle didn’t require that I cut out some things or rethink some of the foods that I eat. In my kitchen, tomato sauce and salad dressings are two things that I never buy. I always make these things from scratch with a small number of whole ingredients. The tomato sauce that I make has 5 ingredients:
Tomatoes, Onions, Carrots, Thyme, and Olive Oil
I have always used canned tomatoes, but if you want to avoid any of the possible pitfalls of canned food, like BPA, sodium, and preservatives, you can easily use fresh roma or plum tomatoes. You’ll just need a lot of them; there are about 12 in a 28 ounce can. I follow this recipe, http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/mario-batali/basic-tomato-sauce-recipe12/index.html, though I generally use much less olive oil.
I also like to take a stick blender and puree the sauce when done. I find that it lends a nice creaminess to the sauce that is very nice in many applications. This sauce is also very good for canning. Occasionally, I make a LOT of this sauce and can it in quart size mason jars for future use.
Mangia!
Jims Ballsv2

The Paleo Refresher (Ala SBUX)

If you follow our ‘Me Paleo’ Facebook page, you might know that we’ve been intrigued lately with Kombucha.  Well, intrigue has turned into slight obsession.  We tried store bought variations this week and were pleasantly surprised.  Paleo peeps are really into ‘Booch’ as it’s commonly called, so we knew it had to be good.  But, we were still a little skeptical and slightly grossed out at the brewing process.  The grossed out part is because of the SCOBY, one of the few necessities of Booch makin.  Simply put, one needs a starter amount of Kombucha, sugar, tea and a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast).  Yeah, kinda gross right?  This is what allows it to ferment, creating the acclaimed detoxifying juice.  Once you’ve brewed your first batch of booch, you can reuse your SCOBY (and it’s subsequent baby SCOBY’s that get created with each new round) and have an endless supply of Kombucha right in your own home. Given that most of these bottles available in stores are upwards of $4, it seems like a pretty good idea.  You can even play around with different flavors to create your own personal concoction.  The bottle that I first tried was a ginger-berry flavor.  At first sip, I immediately liked it.  Fizzy, effervescent, fruity.  A couple sips later, I realized what it reminded me of.  SBUX refreshers!!  Before Paleo, refreshers were my slight obsession.  I’m so happy to have found a paleo friendly replacement!  We’re now planning to try our hand at brewing.

Any others out there brew your own Kombucha?  How did you get your first SCOBY?

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