Back to school is upon us, work is ramping up, and the leisure days of summer are fading behind us. This is when we usually turn to stress eating to cope with our schedule getting tighter. This recipe is about comfort food that is simple to make, requires minimal time, and is still great for your health. There are two options for cooking method- we love the slow cooker, as the lower heat means less damage to the meat protein and vegetables. Alternatively, you can make this meal in an hour in the oven- and still only have a few dishes to clean!
This is a classic meatball that can be made with any ground meat- if you prefer bison, moose or venison, the moisture from the veg will ensure they don’t dry out. You can also replace the meat with mashed chickpeas or beans for a vegetarian option. This recipe also calls for vegetables added, so if you have them prepped in the fridge (see this month’s batch cooking, meal prep article) you can just grab 3-4 cups of veg to make a variety of textures and flavours. Finally, you make your spaghetti squash noodles in the same dish, so it is a one pot meal!
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 4 hrs on low, 8 hrs on high, or 45-50 mins in the oven
- 1 pound grass-fed extra lean ground beef
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 2 tablespoons italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
- 3 Tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 Tbsp cold water
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- ½ red onion, diced
SAUCE & NOODLES
- 1 sm-med spaghetti squash
- 1 Tbsp good quality olive oil
- 3-4 cups of chopped vegetables (mushrooms, zucchini, green pepper. etc.)
- 1 large can of diced tomatoes (or about 6 plum tomatoes)
- 1 tsp tapioca or arrowroot powder (optional)
Large Crockpot is preferred for cooking, however 2 large oven pans work well too- see alternative cooking method.
Start by preheating your slow cooker to either high (4 hrs) or low (8 hr), (or oven to 350F for 1 hr)- cooking time depends on your schedule for a change. If you are using your oven, you will need 2 large baking dishes (no top required).
Next chop and dice vegetables if not already prepped. Place the finely chopped garlic and red onion in one bowl, and the mixed chopped vegetables in another. You want all the vegetables to be about the same size so they cook evenly. Use a variety to get a mix of flavours and textures, and use your current WildFit season to narrow your choices. If prepping from whole vegetables one small zucchini, a green pepper, and half a small container of mushrooms is enough.
Mix ground flax with water to create mixture, let sit to gel a few minutes. This will replace the bread in traditional recipes, soaking up the extra fat and absorbing the flavour. (Almond flour is already quite rich with oils, so has less absorbance, while coconut flour is too dry.) The ‘flax egg’ consistency will also help hold the balls together. Make the meatballs by combining ground beef (or chosen meat) with herbs, salt, garlic and onion in a large bowl- mashing together until even. Add egg and flax mixture to bowl and stir until well combined. Shape into 15 balls.
Cut squash in half crosswise, and pat flesh side with olive oil. Place face down in crockpot. When choosing a squash, a tall, thin one fits better into the crock than a round one! If you are cooking in oven, remove the squash seeds, then chop each half to make quarters, and place facedown in baking pan. Pour ½ inch of boiling hot water around squash (to steam it) and place in oven to bake 45-50 mins. Check for doneness with a fork.
In the chopped veggie bowl, add tomatoes then sprinkle with tapioca (if using) and stir all together. Pour the vegetables into crockpot around squash. If you are baking the vegetables instead, drizzle the olive oil into a seperate large baking pan, then pour in the tomato and veg mixture. Finally, place the meatballs over tomatoes and vegetables, around the squash. (If baking, just over vegetables).
Place the lid on crockpot and allow dish to cook until ready (whether using low or high setting for your schedule). Test a meatball with meat thermometer or cut in half to ensure done-ness. Remove the squash, scraping out the seeds to your compost, then scrape ‘noodles’ with a fork and place onto four plates. If only serving three or less people, store the squash, extra veg and extra meatballs all in separate containers to mix and match later. Spoon the vegetables over ‘noodles’ and add meatballs on top. Finish with a garnish of parsley. Add a dash of coconut aminos if prefered to make the dish saltier and saucier.