Healthy With A Chance Of Meatballs! (Healthy Hollywood)

With the colder weather in the forecast, Healthy Hollywood can’t help but crave comfort food. Mashed potatoes, mac & cheese – there’s something about these foods that are downright homey. But, they are not exactly a healthy gal’s best food friend.

So, I was thrilled to be pitched an item on healthy meatballs (another classic comfort food). At first, healthy meatballs sounded more like an oxymoron. But, good-for-you ingredients can certainly be rolled into a nutritious yet tasty ball.

The fitness giant, Equinox, teamed up with one of New York’s favorite meatball hotspots, The Meatball Shop, to create the Q Ball, which is a seasonally-focused healthy meatball series. “’The Q Ball is designed to be as delicious and full of flavor as any other meatball, but ours is made with an eye toward good health and seasonal ingredients. Launching our series is the Fall Ball; it’s made of bison meat, which is rich in flavor yet lean and healthy. It’s lower in fat and cholesterol but higher in protein than beef,” explains Amy Gallo Ryan, executive editor of Equinox’s health & wellness site, Q blog.

The Meatball Shop will be serving a different healthy Q Ball every season. But, if you don’t happen to live in New York City, you can make the Fall Ball at home.

Mediterranean Bison Balls

  • 2 pounds lean ground bison
  • 1 / 4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 / 8 cup chopped mint
  • 1 / 4 chopped toasted almonds
  • 1 / 4 chopped raisins
  • 1 cup cooked saffron rice* (see below)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 / 8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt

Saffron Rice

  • 1 / 2 cup basmati rice
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 / 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. olive oil

Make saffron. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Drizzle olive oil into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, using your hand, evenly coat entire surface. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix bison, parsley, mint, almonds, raisins, saffron rice, eggs, black pepper and salt. Roll mixture into firmly packed 1 1 / 2-inch balls. Place meatballs in prepared baking dish, taking care to line them up snugly so that they’re touching. Bake until meatballs are firm.

Saffron-Yogurt Tomato Sauce (yummy complement to meatballs)

Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 yellow onion, small dice (about 1.5 cups)
  • 1 bay leaf (fresh or dry)
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano (or 1 / 2 tsp. dry)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 / 4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 28 oz cans of canned tomatoes, chopped (preferably San Marzano)

Cook the onions with the olive oil, oregano, bay leaf, garlic and salt over medium heat in a large pot., stirring constantly until soft and translucent. Add the tomato paste and continue cooking for five minutes. Add the canned tomatoes and stir constantly until begins to boil. Continue cooking for one hours, stirring every four or five minutes, so sauce doesn’t burn.

Saffron Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 cup nonfat yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Small pinch of saffron
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • 1 / 8 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Place saffron, water and lemon juice together and let bloom for five minutes. Combine all the ingredients in mixing bowl and whisk. Place cooked meatball into serving bowl and ladle tomato sauce over the top. Drizzle on the yogurt saffron sauce to finish.

For more healthy recipes & wellness tips, check out

-- Terri MacLeod

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