Turkey Meatball Hoagie with Homemade Red Sauce

For us, summer has been packed with family outings, traveling to see friends, and entertaining guests here in Austin.  That means we’ve been partying like animals and eating like pigs (the tastiest animal).  So it’s time to get back on track and start eating healthy again, which means lean meats and whole grains. If you are doing the same, or just like to always eat healthy, try out this recipe that tastes delicious but doesn’t leave you feeling like a whale at the beach.

Ground Turkey Meatballs 

  • 1.25 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup panko crumbs
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small carrot, minced
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Prep your area first by getting out a sheet of parchment paper and an oven safe dish or walled cookie sheet. Grease will pour off into your oven if you use a flat cookie sheet! In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients except the olive oil and mozzarella. Pack the mixture into golf ball sized balls, or about the size of your middle finger touching your thumb, and set them on the parchment paper. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate while you make the sauce. If using canned sauce go straight to cooking. Put the olive oil in a skillet and bring it to high heat to get a good sear. Put three meatballs in the pan, rolling over after about 45 seconds. Remove and put directly into oven dish.

Once all the meatballs are seared and in the dish, move it into the oven and bake it for 18 minutes. Keep the oven on. Prepare a wheat hoagie roll with meatballs cut in half (so they don’t roll), sauce, and mozzarella cheese. Place it in the oven open-faced for 1 minute then take it out and enjoy! Sprinkle oregano on top for even more flavor.
Homemade Red Sauce
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 – 32oz crushed tomato can
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

In a saucepan, cook down the onion and garlic until soft, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients into the saucepan and let it simmer very low for at least 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, remove the bay leaf and put about half of the mixture into a food processor. Blend until smooth and put in a new bowl. Repeat with 2nd half of mixture.


Scrumptious “Clean” Pancakes

Summer is right around the corner!  In Austin, we’re lucky enough that it’s already here —  at least, the weather is.  Real summer in Texas (I’m told) is reserved for multiple 110+ degree days on end where you can only survive if you’re completely submerged in a freezing cold spring or sitting in your refrigerator.

Summer means less clothes and bikinis, which are both a lot more fun if you’re feeling healthy and fit.  While I can’t commit to a super-strict regimen that cuts out all things delicious, I certainly can afford to make some changes and lighten up on the heavier things I love so dearly.

Among several other fad/lifestyle change diets, I’ve heard a lot lately about eating “clean.”  Which is basically limiting your intake to veggies, lean proteins, complex carbs, and healthy fats.  One recipe that seems to be getting a lot of buzz are “clean” pancakes.  Consisting of oatmeal, egg whites, flax seed oil, wheat germ, and a few other things, they sounded…interesting.  I wanted to give them a shot, but I don’t have flax seed oil or wheat germ in the house.  Also, I’m not the kind of person who can replace delicious, fluffy, white pancakes with something that tastes like cardboard and be okay with that.

Other “clean” versions I saw looked great, but were flavored: banana walnut, apple cinnamon, or pumpkin.  All sound awesome, but I was craving good, old fashioned, butter-and-syrup-soaked pancakes.

So I thought I’d make up my own version.  After a bit of trial and error, I came up with something that I consider a very happy medium (while still leaning heavily towards the healthy side of the spectrum).  They’ve got great texture, tons of protein and fiber, and are very low in calories (especially compared to their delicious white flour/white sugar predecessor).  And much to my surprise, they don’t taste like cardboard!

The recipe below will yield 6 small pancakes.

First, you’ll need a blender or food processor.  I used a blender and it was perfect.  Plus, it’s a one-bowl recipe this way — you can even pour them from the blender directly into the skillet.

Add the following ingredients to your blender:

  • 1/3 cup plain almond milk
  • 3 egg whites
  • Dash of vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. agave nectar (or substitute 2 tsp. honey)
  • 1 tsp. expeller-pressed coconut oil (this is the variety that does not have a coconut smell or flavor, it’s neutral; or use any other vegetable/seed oil)
  • 1 cup of dry oats (not steel cut, just plain old Quaker or whatever)
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tbsp. medium- or fine-ground corn meal (not necessary but I love it for texture)
  • Dash of salt

Now buzz all of it together for a good 30 seconds or so.  The main point is to combine everything but also to chop up the oats so that the mixture resembles a smooth batter.  The best way to control for a runnier or thicker batter is to reduce or increase the almond milk.  I made one pancake with less almond milk and it was good, but different.  Very thick and had a tougher muffin-like texture.  See picture below.

Here's the super-thick one

Once it’s blended to your desired consistency, get a skillet warming on the stove over medium heat.  To prevent sticking, I use a dab of the coconut oil and rub it around the skillet with my fingers (before it gets hot, of course).  Spray oil would be fine, but I recently read that these can contain dangerous chemicals.  If you read the ingredients on most of them, you’ll see “propellant” listed.  The manufacturers don’t disclose what this propellant is (WTF, FDA?), but a study showed that it is usually isobutane or propane.  All set with using grill fuel in my pancakes.  I’ve heard there are air-powered oil misters too, which are totally safe.  Annnnyway, whatever floats your boat.

From here, proceed as you would with normal pancakes.  Once the skillet is hot, pour the batter into the pan.  Wait for a few bubbles to form (2 minutes or so) and then flip, finishing up for about 1 minute on the other side.  Then just stack ’em and serve.

One thing to note.  If you have extra batter, go ahead and make the pancakes and save them after they’re cooked.  Baking powder is most effective right after it’s combined with other ingredients — this ensures fluffier pancakes.

I topped mine with a small pat of butter (oops) and more agave nectar.  I’ve been using this a lot because by volume, it’s twice as sweet as corn syrup, not processed the way white sugars are, and it’s main selling point: it has a very low glycemic index, meaning it won’t have a jolting effect on your blood sugar levels.  It’s really tasty too!

Each pancake contains 75 calories (when you make 6 total out of the recipe above).  Perfect indulgent breakfast for those of us watching our figures. 🙂