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Nutrient Rich Veggie Meatballs with chickpea pasta


Remember when I said I thought my falafels were the best thing that I have made? Well I think these homemade veggie meatballs just stole first place.



Every week when I make my meals I always try to think outside the box, try something that I’m not used. I strive to break the stereotype that meal prepping has the be bland boring food. If you’re going to be eating the same thing 5 days a week, why not make it a little fun? I thought about for this meal just buying premade meatless meatball, but there’s no challenge in that. This meal I really channeled my Italian roots. I am half Italian and growing up we always had pasta at least once week, even twice a week. I love Italian food, but a lot of dishes can get pretty heavy really quick. A lot of carbs, heavy cream sauces, so I’m always trying to find ways to lighten up typical Italian. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good shrimp fettuccine Alfredo, but it is all about moderation. You can eat heavy foods like that, but if you have goals you are trying set limit yourself to how many times you eat them. It’s okay to treat yo self (Any Parks and Rec fans out there?), but limit yourself to how many times you are doing it.



Making veggie meatballs from scratch is way harder that it looks. It kind of comes down to science, trying to find to perfect balance between dry ingredients, different flavor profiles, and the wet ingredients. I wanted to find a way to make this meal vegan, and we all know typical meatballs have to have an egg to bind and bread soaked in milk. I did some research, and I found that for vegan substitute for an egg in cooking, you can use chia seeds and water. I wasn’t even surprised when I found this out. I used to always put chia seeds in my water, for a little extra protein boost, and I used to notice that the water would turn a lot thinker. And we’ve all seen chia seed pudding before, so it just makes sense. I was a little nervous to try it out just because I was trying something new, but it actually worked out really well. You don’t even miss the egg at all in it! I wanted to also make this meal completely gluten free, so I used almond flour instead of bread. Almond flour can get really expensive really quick, so I just make my own. All you need is raw almonds and a food processor, and ta-da, you got yourself some almond flour! And it is literally half the price, and you know what goes in it because you made it yourself.

When making the meatballs I wanted to add in a lot of protein and good nutrients to fuel my body. I started out with a typical base garlic and onions, then added in baby bella mushrooms and a whole bunch of kale. The protein base I used was tempeh, just because I do like it a little better than tofu. I added in chopped up sun dried tomatoes, for texture and an extra zing. I finished off with tomato paste to really bring forward that Italian flavor, added in fresh basil and dried Italian herbs. One thing I could have done differently, was use a food processor instead of a blender. I ordered a food processor off Amazon after I made this, and I know that it will change my food making game. Besides that, I am pretty damn proud of myself for being my first time making something like this!


Another thing I want to conqueror next is making my own marinara sauce. When purchasing a marinara sauce, really take a look at the ingredients. How much sodium is in it, how many grams of sugar, most companies can get pretty sneaky with what they put into their sauces. So when picking out a sauce, take your time looking and comparing, don’t feel bad if you’re standing in the aisle for a little longer than you should. We’re trying to get fit, okay! Everyone can stand aside and walk around! LOL Anyways, my point being, just look at the ingredients find the ones that have the least and most natural in them.



With my meatballs being completely gluten free, I wanted to continue that theme and make the pasta gluten free as well. Nowadays, it is so easy to find amazing gluten free pastas. I have found some really good ones at Sprouts and Whole Foods. I found one from Banza, their chickpea penne pasta is so high in protein and makes you not even miss all that flour and what not. Don’t be nervous about trying new pastas like this, one thing I can’t stress enough is just because it is healthy doesn’t mean that it is going to taste like crap. I hate that that stigma is out there! Healthy food is amazing! Healthy food is more than just extremely tasty, but so good for your soul. The key to making healthy food tasty is all about the seasonings that you put in it.



To finish off this already tasty meal, I added roasted veggies to add more nutrients. Every veggies dish I make I always add mushrooms, why you ask, because mushrooms are just too damn amazing. I’ve recently grown a love for cauliflower so I just had to throw in some as well. I finished off with red bell pepper, put everything in a bag, tossed in EVOO and Italian herbs. There you go some tasty veggies! One thing I wish I added was some more color to this dish, it is very one note so made a pop of green would have brightened it up a bit. I do eat with my eyes so this was kicking me all throughout the week that I didn’t add in something more colorful, but it still tasted amazing.

If you are just starting off cooking, do not get discouraged if you ever mess up. Every great chef started off somewhere, and know that every mistake will lead to a win. If you mess up, try again! Keep going, keep pushing, don’t let little things stop you from bettering yourself as a person.


Okay enough of me talking, let's get to cookin’!


Serves: 5

Vegan and Gluten Free

Category: Meal Prep

Prep time: 25 minutes Total Cooking time: roughly 65 minutes

Cuisine: Italian

Veggie Meatballs:

» 1 package of tempeh

» 1 small white onion

» 3 cloves of garlic

» 1 ½ cups chopped up mushrooms

» 2 cups kale

» 1 ½ cups almond flour

» 3 tbsp tomato paste

» ½ cup sundried tomatoes (I buy mine prepackaged from Trader Joe’s)

» 1 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 3 tbls hot water for binding

» ½ tsp dried sage

» ½ tsp dried thyme

» ½ oregano

» ½ tsp black pepper

» 1 tbsp fresh basil

» 1 ½ tbsp fresh rosemary

Vegetables

» 2 large packages baby bella mushrooms

» 1 medium sized cauliflower

» 1 red bell pepper

» Same herbs in meatballs

Other ingredients

» 2 cartoons Banza chickpea penne pasta

» EVOO

» Newmans Own Marinara sauce

Instructions:

» Preheat oven to 400 ° F

» Start prepping all veggies

◦ Remove stem from kale and chop up

◦ Chop up mushrooms for meatballs finely, for side veggies just slice mushrooms

◦ Core bell pepper a slice into ½ inch strips, then cut in half

◦ Break down cauliflower and cut florets in 1 inch pieces

◦ Chop sun dried tomatoes into smaller pieces

» When veggies are done, place sliced mushrooms, red bell pepper, and cauliflower into bags, add in herbs and EVOO

» Set in fridge to marinate and chill

» Saute finely chopped mushrooms, kale, onions, and garlic until everything is nice and wilted down, let cool before adding to food processor

» In a food processor (I used a blender which I shouldn't) add meatball ingredients

◦ Pulse until it forms a paste like consistency

◦ I suggest making a little bit more almond flour on hand to make it drier if it is too wet

» Place dough into separate bowl to start dividing

» Start hand forming balls into about 1 1/2-2 inches wide

» Repeat until you are out of dough; this made about 24 meatballs

» Place in oven for about 20 minutes, the meatballs should be slightly brown, check to see if they are crispy enough

» On a separate parchment lined baking sheet dump veggies out

◦ Make sure they are spread out evenly, you want them to roast not steam

» Place veggies in the same oven for 20 minutes or until they are all tender

» While everything is cooking, bring a large pot to boil on the stove

» Once boiling, add a touch of EVOO to the water and put both packages into pot

» Boil for about 10 minutes, check every so often to see if the pasta is completely cooked, I also test one piece to see

» Once the pasta is done drain, and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking

» When everything is done let everything completely cool before placing into containers


Like I mentioned before in my other food post, I’m not strict on my measurements. I eyeball everything, I have pretty bad eyesight (thank you contacts for saving me) but I still do a pretty good job of keeping everything even. For plating, I put the pasta down first, then about 3-4 tbsp of tomato sauce, then placed 4 meatballs on top.


Macro Breakdown

» 530 calories

» 33 grams protein

» 71 grams carbs

» 19 grams fat

» 30 grams fiber

» 3 grams saturated fat

» 10 grams unsaturated fat

» 469 mg of sodium

» 0 mg cholesterol

» 788 mg potassium


I use #lifesum to track all my macros and to make sure that I am staying on track. This is not an add, I've been using this app for over a year now. It really has kept me on check to make sure I'm getting the right nutrients every day.

Hope you enjoy!


Let me know what you think :)


#healthy #vegan #glutenfree #mealprep

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