Paleo Meal: Baked Turkey Meatballs with Zucchini Noodles and Vegan Pesto

Don’t you just love farmer’s markets? (If you don’t, check out these tips for making the most of your experience!) There is little I love more than putting on a maxi dress, throwing my hair into a messy bun, grabbing my tote bag and strolling up and down the streets between the farmer’s market booths, grabbing delicious produce on my way. Sometimes, if it’s really nice out, Tim and I will sit on a nearby restaurant patio and enjoy a glass of wine while we look over our loot.

Summer is the best, isn’t it?

About two weeks ago, I decided to start on the Paleo Diet. My reasons are plentiful, but mostly it is because I have heard a lot about how the Paleo Diet can help adult acne. I’ve long had a sneaking suspicion that my crappy diet and my acne are related; even though I know most of it is hormonal, I know that food can trigger it, too. Also, ever since I started eating meat aver six years as a vegetarian, I have just felt… blah. There really is no other way to describe it. Even as a vegetarian living with an omnivore (read: carnivore), I wasn’t able to make the foods I wanted and still fill up my husband, so when I started eating meat again, I tried to keep it veggie-friendly, which really lead to a lot of pizza and pasta.

My face kind of started to look like a pizza at that point. I guess you really are what you eat.

Anyway, as a longtime vegetarian, I am used to controlling my food and eliminating things from my diet, so Paleo didn’t seem that daunting. Furthermore, what better time to start eating clean, locally sourced, fresh foods than during farmer’s market season? And what better time to try out new recipes than summer vacation? So I decided to give it a go.

I’m not sure if it’s the sun, the extra sleep, the countless herbal supplements I’m taking, the extra water I’m drinking, or if it really is the Paleo Diet, but my skin hasn’t looked this good all year. I have some problem areas on my left cheek and under my chin still, but that is literally nothing compared to how it used to be. I’m skeptical, though, because in the past, as soon as I thought something was working, my face blew up again, so we’ll see. I’m not converted yet.

But, the thing is, I feel awesome, too. I have good energy, I don’t feel like my blood sugar is rising and crashing all over the place, and I don’t crave any of the foods I cut out (primarily grains/gluten, dairy, and legumes). Plus, the meals are so fun! And colorful! And it gives me an extra reason to visit the farmer’s market every week! You really can’t go wrong with all of that.

So, I’ve been working on perfecting a few recipes that I thought I’d start sharing with y’all. If you make any of these, please let me know what you thought in the comments. Bon appetit!

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Baked Turkey Meatballs

For this, I pretty much followed this recipe, except I omitted a few ingredients because I didn’t have them, so my ingredient list looked like this:

  • 1 lb of ground turkey
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh parsley
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 egg

I’m a garlic fiend, so I added more of that, and I was sure to use the red peppers from the farmer’s market and the parsley growing in my container garden. Yum! I mixed all the ingredients together in a bowl with my hands, then rolled them into about 12 large meatballs and put them on a lightly greased (with extra virgin olive oil!) glass baking dish. I baked them at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes (or until done), and they were delish!

Zucchini Noodles

Zucchini noodles are ridiculously easy to make. Take a zucchini (I also got these from the farmer’s market), wash it off, then take a potato peeler and start peeling off strips until you get down to the seeds. Save the seed part in a bag in your freezer to make broth with later. Take the noodles and sauté them in a bit of extra virgin olive oil for about 5 minutes or until they are tender to your liking. Add a bit of salt and pepper to taste.

Vegan Pesto Sauce

Because they omit dairy and gluten, vegan sauces are most definitely Paleo, unless they include soy products. Luckily, pesto sauce does not. Pesto sauce is also really great to play around with using just whatever ingredients you have in your kitchen. Since I had a bunch of parsley, I used that, along with some EVOO, salt and pepper, and cashews to substitute for the cheese. You could also use basil, cilantro, or any combination of herbs. If you’re looking for an extra boost of Omega-3’s, you can use walnuts instead of cashews. My ingredient list looked like this:

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Just combine it all in a food processor until it’s sauce-y and enjoy!

If you’ve made this one, let me know how it went in the comments!

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4 thoughts on “Paleo Meal: Baked Turkey Meatballs with Zucchini Noodles and Vegan Pesto

  1. Made the zucchini noodles last night for Eliza and me – YUM! I just served them with the garlic/olive oil saute and some salt and pepper and they were great. I think this is my new favorite way to make zucchini. There’s something neat about watching a baby eat zucchini noodles, too (even though I understand that it’s all the same to her 😉 ). I’m going to pin this recipe to a) save it, and b) share your blog!

    • Thanks for the feedback, Sara, and thanks for sharing! I’m glad you liked the “noodles.” They’re a personal favorite!

  2. I am not going to lie, I was really nervous about this meal. I was afraid it wouldn’t taste so great. Well, it was delicious & I really did love the zucchini “noodles”. The meatballs were so flavorful & moist. This was shocking considering turkey meatballs can really get dry. Thanks so much. Pinning this!

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