Behind every recipe, there is a story. Food brings joy! It brings togetherness, it brings happiness and laughter. The story doesn’t just begin with the person who is making the food but it travels. It travels to every person that the food has touched. If you think about it, what’s your favorite meal? And why is it your favorite meal? Who made it or where did you eat it? It’s always attached to memories, good memories. Enjoying good food will always come with a story.
For me, this recipe comes with memories of Sunday family lunch and it will forever remind me of my mom. My mom is a phenomenal cook, she has taught me everything I know about cooking. But not just cooking to eat, but to cook with passion. She always said food makes people happy. If you cook with passion, people will feel it in the food so you will always make people happy. That has always stuck with me, and maybe that’s where I get my passion for cooking from. My mom is rocking 70 and man can the lady ever cook. I bet, actually scrap that- I know she would out cook any pro-chef out there guaranteed! She’s also tough as nails, and a sergeant in the kitchen. The kitchen is her sanctuary and it has definitely become mine ( followed by the gym).
My earliest memory of cooking with my mom was when I was 7. It was Sunday morning, she was making Polpette e Sugo ( Meatballs and Sauce). I asked her if I could help. That day sort of went like this “Denise go get me garlic in the cantina” ( my parents always grew their own herbs and vegetables and garlic was always hung in our cold cellar), “Denise, go pick fresh basil and parsley from the garden”, “Denise, get 2 jars of sauce” ( we’re Italian, so we always had jarred sauce).
I remember thinking ‘this is not cooking” and I remember asking if I could make the meatballs and roll it with my hands. My mom said no. She told me that the most important thing is to watch and learn. She pulled up a chair to the counter, had me watch her cut and dice everything, and as she added each ingredient to the pot she told me why it had to be added in that exact order. To this day I still do the exact thing.
As I’m about to share my version of meatballs, I can hear my son say “are these like Nonna’s?” and the truth of the matter is no, but they are damn close and totally approved by my mom. Traditionally from the part of Italy, we are from ( Abruzzo) or it’s just the way my mom just makes them, she uses veal ( occasionally she would use pork or mix both), which are 2 types of meat we no longer eat. They aren’t the leanest cuts of meat and being a health advocate, I love turning family favorites into healthy ones.
Recreating my mom’s meatballs into a healthier version was definitely a challenge and it took a few tries but I think I finally got it down pact! The first time I made it for my mom, I was staring at her as she took the first bite. Do you know, that she ate the whole damn meatball without even looking up or saying a word? How nerve-racking is that!!! I was like “ma..okay, is it good?” she looked up at me and said “buonissimo” BAM and that’s how it’s done, people!!!!! My version of Nonna’s meatballs for the win!!!! She also didn’t believe me that it was turkey, so I know she liked it.
Why do I use turkey? Simple. It’s leaner and as part of making healthier choices, this is one substitution we always make.
I should add, my mom’s meatballs are delicious because she adds a lot of flavorful ingredients like Parmesan Cheese and breadcrumbs. To make this a healthier version some of the ingredient portions were eliminated or reduced, but don’t you worry this recipe is packed with flavor!
Before I share the recipe, I’d like to sign off by saying that we eat to live, not live to eat. Making Healthier choices doesn’t mean eating flavorless dry foods. Healthier choices means enjoying whole natural foods, with natural ingredients that are packed with flavour and provide us with nutrients that our body needs. When we eat good, we feel good!
This recipe yields 12-14 Meatballs
Prep-time: 15 Minutes ( plus cooking time)
2lbs Fresh Organic Ground Turkey
1tsp olive oil
1 grated zucchini
1-2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp whole wheat breadcrumbs
1tsp olive oil
¼ cup freshly chopped parsley
1tsp garlic powder ( or 1 clove of garlic crushed & minced)
Salt & pepper to taste
- Mix all ingredients in a bowl well
- Using about ¼ cup of the turkey mix for each meatball, roll into shape and place on a lined baking sheet.
- You can bake them in the oven at 400 for about 20 minutes, eat as is with a side salad, or add into pasta sauce. Or
- You can brown them lightly, then add to pasta sauce as it’s cooking to have the meatballs finish cooking in the sauce.
I enjoy mine baked, on top of zucchini noodles, with some sauce on top! My kids, on the other hand, love them smothered in homemade pasta sauce!
If you try my recipes, comment below or email me, I’d love to hear from you! ( oh! And if you post it, don’t forget to tag me @bellzandbunz, I love seeing food posts