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Monday, August 20, 2012

Italian style turkey meatballs with spicy marinara

I rarely eat pasta.  It's not like I'm anti-pasta or anything.  I just try to keep it to a minimum with the lifestyle I have chosen.  I tend to get my carbohydrates through my fruits, veggies, whole grains, quinoa, beans and oats.  That said, I still like to have the occasional pasta meal.  Lately I've decided to try some quinoa varieties, since I tend to try and keep my wheat intake to a minimum.  That makes whole wheat pasta not as much of an option for me, and regular white pasta is just not typically something I eat.  Again, this is just my choice and if regular pasta is what you like, please still try my meatballs and sauce :-)

The pasta I used tonight was a corn quinoa blend.  I really liked the texture of it.  I've heard that a lot of the brown rice pastas turn out mushy, so I have yet to experiment with them.  But this is the second time I've used a quinoa based pasta and I have to say I really like it, and so does my family.  The texture is more similar to a white pasta than a whole wheat pasta which I liked.  It had a tad less fiber in it than the whole wheat variety, but I like that it has the nutritional advantage of being a complete protein.  Pasta oftentimes makes me feel bloated after I eat it.  I don't feel that way after eating this gluten-free version.

This brand makes all pasta types....spaghetti, shells, etc.  The macaroni noodles are just what I had in the pantry tonight.

Now, that we've discussed pasta......onto my turkey meatball and marinara sauce recipe.  I hope you will love how I sneaked some veggies into both the meatballs and the sauce :)  A little carrot and celery....BONUS!!

Italian style Turkey Meatballs

  • Aluminum foil and Cooking spray
  • 1 pound ground turkey breast
  • 1 slice fresh whole-wheat bread, crusts removed, pulsed into crumbs using food processor (or you could use 1/4 cup dried bread crumbs)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot (I used my small hand chopper which worked great)
  • 1 finely chopped small onion (again, I used my small hand chopper)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. 

Combine the turkey with all other ingredients in a large bowl.  Form into 2 1/2 -inch balls and place on the prepared baking sheet. I got 16 meatballs.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes.

Now onto our SAUCE!  I don't buy jarred sauces.  I don't like how the sodium and sugar levels are so high.  And I just tend to cook and bake from scratch.  This is my "happy time."  I enjoy being in the kitchen.  I love all of the smells, textures and flavors of all of it.  Cooking is probably my favorite hobby.  Every summer I make up huge batches of spaghetti sauce from the fresh tomatoes either from our garden or our local farmer, and I freeze it so we have it all year long.  I haven't gotten around to doing that yet this year, but I was really craving a good sauce NOW, so I bought some jarred organic tomatoes.  I like this brand a lot.

Spicy Marinara sauce

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 small onions, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
10 large baby carrots, finely chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste (I did a good 15 cranks of the pepper mill)
3 32-ounce cans crushed tomatoes (I used 2 cans of Organic Muir Glen crushed tomatoes with basil and 1 can of Organic Muir Glen FIRE ROASTED crushed tomatoes since I knew I wanted this to have a little kick to it). If you do not use crushed tomatoes with any added seasonings, then you will want to adjust/add the seasonings below a bit to your taste.
1 teaspoon ground cayenne red pepper
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano

In a large  pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions, celery, carrots and garlic and saute about 15 minutes, until the veggies are softened.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of each salt and pepper.

Add the tomatoes, cayenne red pepper, basil and oregano. 

 and simmer over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Add any additional salt and pepper at this time to suit your taste.

**Side note - when my sauce was about finished, I decided to throw it into the food processor (took 3 batches) and process a bit to get the "chunks" of tomatoes out.  I added this step for the sake of the children, and to not hear them complain about the chunks. It was worth the extra complaining.  SCORE MOM!!

Finished product!  Delish!!  This was perfect with tonight's dinner, and gave me extra to freeze for some other time!  

Tonight's final dinner, served with a small salad on the side.  Delicious and nutritious!

If you try this recipe I'd love for you to let me know how you liked it!!!!

In Good Health,

1 comment:

  1. I have started canning your sauce. I think its delicious. The only thing I add is some sugar. Thanks so much for sharing.