One of the best ways to optimize the taste and nutritional value of your meals is to make them using fresh, high-quality ingredients. Here’s how to do this when cooking a classic dish both adults and kids enjoy: chicken meatballs.
Fresh chicken: What to look for
- Fresh chicken has yellowish skin and pinkish meat. The shape of the chicken should also look natural, and you shouldn’t notice an obvious scent. Avoid chicken with a distinct odour because it has probably gone bad.
- Read the label on the chicken carefully so that you know what you’re buying. Keep an eye out for grass-fed chicken, which is more nutritious than chicken fed corn or other feeds.
- Check if the label says it’s fresh. This means that the chicken has never had an internal temperature less than 26 degrees Fahrenheit. Freezing and thawing chicken changes its texture.
- Look for chicken labelled as “free-range.” Because these chickens have been raised under more humane conditions and given access to the outdoors, their meat is cleaner.
- Choose chicken that’s been certified organic by a reputable certifying body, such as the USDA. Buying organic chicken helps you steer clear of genetic engineering, synthetic pesticides, and sewage.
- Instead of buying pre-ground meat, choose whole meat and have the butcher grind it for you. When you buy pre-ground meat, it’s harder to know what’s in it. For example, it’s challenging to determine the quality of the meat, where it came from, and whether it’s been frozen.
How to make meatballs a healthy meal
If you’re trying to maintain a healthy diet or lose weight, you don’t have to give up all of your favourite foods. Instead, you can find ways to tweak them so you can still enjoy the flavours and textures you love without adding inches to your waistline.
How can you make a healthy version of chicken meatballs? Leave the breadcrumbs out.
The breadcrumbs in traditional meatball recipes are usually made from highly processed white bread, which contains few nutrients. By leaving the breadcrumbs out, you can enjoy delicious meatballs without loading up on processed carbs.
Of course, the breadcrumbs in traditional meatballs serve a purpose—they hold the meatballs together. As a result, meatballs made without breadcrumbs are naturally more likely to fall apart. To keep breadcrumb-less meatballs intact, turn them slowly and frequently as you cook them.
Enjoy a healthy version of a classic recipe by trying our homemade chicken meatballs without breadcrumbs. Here’s how to make them:
For the meatballs:
- ground chicken
- dry leaves: basil, oregano, and parsley
- salt and pepper
For the sauce:
- fresh tomatoes
- chicken broth
- In a large saucepan, heat the oil.
- Sauté the garlic and onion.
- When the onion is translucent, add the tomatoes and zucchini. Stir and cook them on low heat.
- Add the chicken broth and blend the ingredients together.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the ingredients for the meatballs. Use your hands.
- Once the ingredients are mixed, shape them into one-inch balls.
- Add some oil to a pan and brown the meatballs. Be sure to turn them slowly and often.
- Once the chicken meatballs have browned, cook them in the sauce on low heat, stirring occasionally.
Tips & Tricks
- To ensure that the chicken meatballs stay intact, brown them fully before adding them to the sauce.
Nadia is the Founder of Inpression Editing. She holds a PhD from the University of Toronto and has expertise in research, health care, and psychology. She has been interviewed by well-known organizations, including the David Suzuki Foundation and the National Post. She makes a mean gluten-free cinnamon—pecan bread and loves a good mint lemonade.
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