Hearty Healthy Meatball Stew, Pumpkin Protein Muffins … And Sore Legs!

This quote can sum up my day “One should not watch the food network if one is not prepared to spend the day in the kitchen!”

Lately I haven’t been a regular food network watcher mostly because I’ve been busy, and also because sometimes it gives me the urge to make not-so-healthy food. I especially try to avoid the channel when I’m hungry (for obvious reasons). But on Friday I got home from class, and Giada at Home was on — Giada is my favorite food network host. She had me salivating with a Meatball stew, among other sinful delights. Although the desserts looked great, I decided to keep it clean with the stew.

I didn’t have time to cook on Saturday, although I was dreaming about this stew all day. Today, however, was the perfect opportunity to make it — I had a free day and my hubby had a friend over that could enjoy it, too. In my opinion, cooking and baking is the best way to spend a Sunday, and its even better when you can share the results!

The stew was an extremely easy one-pot recipe, and it turned out even more delicious that it looked on TV. The true test of a dish is 1) Did we eat it all & will I make it again?, and 2) Do I actually make it again & eat all of the leftovers. This dish passed round one, and I suspect it will pass round two as well! Below is the recipe with my minor tweaks to Giada’s version.

My photography skills don't even begin to do this dish justice, but at least the photo will give you an idea.

Hearty, Healthy Meatball Stew

Ingredients for Meatballs

  • 1 slice of Dave’s Killer Bread
  • 8 oz lean ground beef
  • 8 oz Jenny-O Sweet Italian Turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbs chopped parsley
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
Ingredients for Stew
  • 1 tbs whole-wheat flour
  • 4 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 lb white mushrooms, quartered
  • One russet potato, sliced into “disks”
  • 4 oz green beans, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 15 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (depending on your affinity for spicy food)
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

Instructions (Quoted from The Food Network)

“For the meatballs: Place the bread and 3 tablespoons water into a medium bowl. Mash to a paste with a spatula. Add the beef, sausage, egg, parsley, salt and pepper. Blend the mixture thoroughly with your hands or a flexible spatula. Form the mixture into 10 to 16 meatballs. Arrange the meatballs on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet until ready to use.

For the hearty meatball stew: Sprinkle the meatballs with the flour and turn to coat with any flour still on the foil. Heat a large heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat for 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Drop the meatballs into the skillet, spaced apart. Cook until the bottoms are set and brown, about 2 minutes. Using a flexible thin spatula, turn each meatball onto an uncooked side and cook until the bottoms are set and brown, about 2 minutes longer. Turn and cook a third side, until set and brown, about another 2 minutes, so the meatballs are browned and set all over. Transfer the meatballs to a large plate.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, peppers, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Cook until soft, 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and the remaining salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, beans, tomatoes, red pepper flakes and broth. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook until the potatoes are tender and the meatballs are cooked through, about 20 minutes.”

My vegetable concoction

 I also made roasted veggies again, this time using an even wider array of vegetables from my Bountiful Basket and the grocery store. I baked the following ingredients 400 degrees for ~30 min
  • Russet potatoes (microwave for 4 minutes in advance)
  • Sweet potatoes (microwave for 4 minutes in advance)
  • Green beans
  • Asparagus
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow zucchini (I’m not sure what it’s actually called)
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Topped with feta, parmesan, and olive oil (the more cheese you add, the better it tastes, but also the higher in fat it is… Oh decisions!)

Because I couldn’t find oat flour (to make my trusty protein brownies and protein cinnamon bread) at the two stores I went to this weekend, I decided to try a new pumpkin protein muffin recipe that I found on Pinterest. I followed the recipe exactly from here (except I mixed walnuts throughout, and sprinkled white chocolate chips on top). They were delish! I’m looking forward to having them for breakfast this week! 🙂 I love that because they’re made with pumpkin puree, they are actually lower in carbs and higher in fiber than other muffins I’ve made in the past. I think these muffins have definitely earned a spot on my baking rotation! But all the white chocolate chips that I ate while decorating were certainly not low-cal… oops 🙂

Pumpkin protein muffins with walnuts and white chocolate chips!

Before I started my culinary adventure this morning, my hubby joined me for a fun 4 mile run in the sun. It was a nice change-up to run with a buddy, and he kept it fun by cracking me up with jokes and silly made-up songs the entire time. Just another one of the reasons why I love him 🙂

After I finished baking this evening I hit the gym for an enjoyable 30 minutes on the elliptical. After the elliptical, I met up with my cousin and my friend for about an hour of leg weights. Maybe I shouldn’t have terrorized them with the 3-lunge variation routine that I do… they might not want to workout with me again, and it was fun having workout buddies. If you’re brave, you can find a breakdown of the lunge routine here. My legs are already a little sore for the killer leg workouts I did today, but its a satisfying kind of sore!

I’ve been re-reading Tosca Reno’s Eat-Clean Diet Workout, which has been re-engergizing my weight-training spirit. I also really enjoyed doing cardio today — I think the 10 hours of sleep I got last night also played a role in my high motivation and energy levels today! Another contributing factor could be that I got a new pair of headphones today — no more listening to one crackly earbud while on the elliptical! 🙂

Overall it was a really wonderful weekend! Now I’m going to go finish it off right by cuddling up with my hubby for part of a movie before bed! This reminds me of a quote I saw on Pinterest: “Being married is like having a sleep-over with your best friend every night.” So true! 🙂


One thought on “Hearty Healthy Meatball Stew, Pumpkin Protein Muffins … And Sore Legs!

  1. I love it! Cool post! The photos and links really polish it too. You may wish to check the lunge link though; it didn’t go to the lunge article for me. I’m avoiding lunges for a while because the last lunges felt bad on my sore foot, but I think they’re one of the absolute best leg exercises we can do. This post filled me with your inspiration to cook and eat healthy fuels and keep on keeping on with diverse workouts. Your closing quote was awesome too! Thank you!!! Happy Monday! ( :

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