ELMM’s Recipe Blog Kickoff


December is here! It is a time for celebrations and plentiful gatherings. Here at the ELMM Clinic, we want you to be able to see how you can maintain your lifestyle goals while still enjoying holiday socials. We cannot think of a better way to kick off our recipe blog than with a twist on a classic party appetizer- the meatball!

photo credit: Berries.com

Chances are, you have enjoyed one or two or even a few meatballs as part of a party spread before. Likely, the meatballs may have been frozen and contained ingredients you could not pronounce. Also, the meatballs were likely in a crockpot full of a sweet sauce that left not only your fingers but also your gut feeling a bit messy. Well, it is time to get down to basics and recreate this holiday treat.

To start, let’s take a look at why we need to rethink our beloved meatball appetizer.

First, let’s address the meatball. If we look at the traditional frozen meatball, it usually contains mechanically separated meats, powdered cheese, a filler flour such as soy or wheat, and roughly ¼ of the recommended daily sodium intake. Words like “mechanically separated”, “powdered”, and “filler” should set off alarms. These foods are highly processed, which cuts down on a food’s nutritional content as well as the energy your body uses to breakdown the food. We want our bodies to have to work to breakdown food and make it harder for food to be stored as fat. We also want the food we eat to be as nutrient dense as possible. All in all, the traditional frozen meatball is not the best choice.

Second, let’s address the sauce. A traditional bottled barbeque sauce usually has some sort of sugar as its main ingredient. There is an average of 3 teaspoons of sugar per serving. Now, here’s the whopper- one serving is just 2 tablespoons! You’re likely getting that with just two dips of a meatball. And this is for traditional sauce. The numbers are only more impressive with flavors such as honey or brown sugar. The only thing such a sauce will buy you is a spike in your insulin levels, an insult to your healthy lifestyle, and calories void of any nutritional value.

Now, let’s turn our attention to the new and improved meatball appetizer. Here are the keys:

  1. The frozen meat concoction will be replaced with fresh, preferably organic and grass fed, protein.
  2. The ingredient list is made up of whole foods with you can pronounce and your body can fully utilize.
  3. This is the point mom’s are going to LOVE. The meatball has a vegetable in it, the ever-versatile zucchini! This helps to keep the meatballs moist AND amps up this recipe’s nutritional profile.
  4. The meatballs are prepared in the oven on parchment paper requiring no added fat or calories for cooking.
  5. The sauce is SUGAR FREE and chock full of flavor!

Right about now, you are probably dying for the recipe. Here it is, adapted from Paleohacks.



1 pound ground meat (Go crazy here! Use chicken, turkey, beef, pork, or even bison. Opt for 85% lean or greater)

1 cup grated zucchini

1 large egg

2 tablespoons minced jalapeno (Decrease to 1 for less heat)

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat oven to 400°
  2. Wring out the grated zucchini in a kitchen towel or paper towels to draw out excessive moisture. You don’t want soggy meatballs!
  3. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until combined.
  4. Form into golf ball sized meatballs and place on a baking sheet prepared with parchment paper.
  5. Bake 35-40 minutes until browned and cooked through.

Recipe should yield 14 meatballs. This recipe can be added to your MyFitnessPal account by searching for ELMM Spicy Meatball. Nutritional information is based on 85% lean ground beef. Fat contact will vary depending on protein source and will be lower with lean chicken, turkey, or bison.

photo credit: Kjokkenutstyr.netAvocado

SAUCE, adapted from Paleohacks.


2 ripe avocadoes

2 small garlic cloves, peeled

4 Tablespoons lemon juice

2 Tablespoon olive oil

1 cup fresh basil leaves

Salt and black pepper, to taste

  1. Add the basil and garlic to a food processor or blender and blend until fine.
  2. Add the flesh of the avocado, olive oil, and lemon juice.
  3. Blend until smooth.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe can be added to your MyFitnessPal account by searching for ELMM Spicy Meatball Avocado Sauce. Nutritional information is based on a 2 tablespoon serving size.

Serve the meatballs warm alongside your homemade sauce.

**If you are not an avocado fan, you can also make a spicy mayonnaise dip by combining mayonnaise with lemon juice and your favorite savory seasoning such as chili powder or steak seasoning. Another option is to serve with hummus loosened with a few tablespoons of water.


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