Welcome to …But Healthier, my new column for Manna that’s focused on taking recipes for the foods we all enjoy — aka comfort foods — and making them healthier, easier and more accessible for everyone, no matter your budget, time constraints or location
As the CEO of Eat Sunny, I strive to make nutritious, well-balanced and (of course) delicious meals for my clients. My mission is the same as Manna's: We both want to make food easier. Because we all have enough on our plates — food, and, specifically, eating in a way that truly nourishes us, should be easier.
Ultimately, …But Healthier — like Eat Sunny — is about meeting you right where you are — supporting your wellbeing and life, one tasty, wholesome bite at a time. So make sure you download the app to get the recipes; you’ll be able to save, tweak and customize them to your preferences, right there!
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Spaghetti with Meatballs …. But Healthier!
Growing up my family had pasta for dinner a few nights a week. Sometimes it was penne with Italian sausage that my dad threw on the grill, sometimes it was farfalle (butterflies) with butter and Parmesan, and sometimes my mother served her famous Bolognese sauce that took a whole day to make and involved buying three different kinds of meat, slowly sautéing onions and simmering everything together for hours and hours. We'd eat it with garlic bread and about a pound of spaghetti.
It was delicious, but it doesn't fit my lifestyle now, both in terms of the limited time I have to cook for myself and my kids, my budget, and how I like to eat, which is to maximize the nutrients in all the food I’m eating. So, I created a turkey zucchini meatballs recipe inspired by my epic childhood dinners that’s tasty and fits my current lifestyle needs – it’s healthier, I can make it ahead of time and freeze it for future meals.Compared to the Bolognese or traditional Italian meatballs, it’s more affordable and has a lot less saturated fat and calories. Organic ground turkey is a great source of lean protein that I can find in most grocery stores, while zucchini adds water, fiber and Vitamin C to the recipe. At Eat Sunny, we serve the turkey meatballs over spaghetti squash with our house-made tomato sauce and some sauteed kale – feel free to serve the meatballs with zucchini noodles or a legume-based pasta, instead. If using commercial tomato sauce, I recommend one that has no added sugar (check the ingredients).
Beyond how healthful this recipe is, the “make-ahead” factor is convenient and easy. Feel free to double this recipe because these meatballs – which are so light and moist thanks to the zucchini – freeze and reheat so well. You can also throw the meatballs into chicken broth with vegetables (carrots or sweet potato, kale or spinach, more onion, etc) and make a lighter version of Italian Wedding Soup, which we do at Eat Sunny, too.
To get this recipe, download Manna, and please let me know what you think. Give me a shout at @tatiboncompagni on Instagram.
Turkey Zucchini Meatballs over Spaghetti Squash
Makes 8 portions of meatballs and 4 portions of squash
1 large spaghetti squash or 2 small
4 medium zucchini
2 lb ground turkey breast
2 tsp oregano
2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1/2 small onion, very finely chopped (optional)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Tomato sauce (choose a no-sugar-added brand or homemade)
2 cups Lacinto kale, washed and rough chopped (optional)
1/2 tbsp olive oil (optional)
Heat oven to 400 ̊ F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Make Squash: Split spaghetti squash in half, remove seeds with a large spoon and your hands and place, cut side down, on one baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and bake for 40-60 min, until squash is soft (cook time depends on size). Remove from the oven, let cool for 5-10 min and then, using a fork, gently pull squash away from the sides, creating “spaghetti” strands. Salt and pepper lightly to taste. Set aside.
Make meatballs: While squash is baking, using a box grater, coarsely grate zucchini. In a large bowl, combine zucchini, turkey, spices, garlic and onion. Using your hands, combine until the turkey is broken into small pieces and the mixture sticks together easily. Season with salt and pepper and form into balls. Transfer to a baking sheet. Bake until cooked through and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes.
Make kale (optional): In a small pan over medium high heat, add 1/2 tbsp of olive oil and kale. Sautee for 4-5 min, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, set aside.
Assemble: Divide squash into 4 portions. Top each with sauce, 1/4 of the sauteed kale, and 4 meatballs. You may also top with cheese or nutritional yeast if desired.
Keep in the refrigerator for up to three days or serve immediately. Freeze cooked and cooled meatballs for up to 1 month in a zip lock baggie.
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Tatiana Boncompagni Instagram: @tatiboncompagni