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Dairy Free, Yet Cheesy, Chicken Meatballs

Hello my friends.  I am sure many of you have been wondering what happened.  I quit my job and then…crickets.  I am sorry about that.  The easy response is to say it was the website redesign.  I really wanted to do this bigger then before and try to take this blog to the next level.  That isn’t untrue.  As you can see it is quite different then it was a few months ago.  I have spent quite a bit of time making the site easier to navigate with a new look and feel that I am quite proud of…but I told you I would always be honest with you.  So here it is, deep breath… I got scared.  I got scared of failing.  I got scared of not having anything to say, or worse, scared that no one would care.  I got scared that my photos weren’t at the level they should be and my recipes weren’t going to be enough.  I let my insecurities pile up until I couldn’t move forward.  I figured I could hide in being a wife and, hopefully, later a mother and started to let my dream slip away.   Those old thoughts of self loathing and negativity began to creep back and I was stagnant.  I started to think who would listen, why do this, the odds are against me, and so on and so forth.  I continued to create recipes and to cook, as that is what I love, but I was feeling nervous about putting my whole self out to the world to see and maybe not like.  I was reminded last week of a podcast that sums up why I started this and why I want to do it.  I can’t remember her name, although I have been searching the Ted Radio Hour database to find it; when I do I will let you know.  I can give you the gist, though.  The woman was an author known for writing about her life.  She answers her own question about why anyone would want to know about her life.  Her realization is that everyone has a story that is worth telling as our transparency will have us finding more similarities, then differences, and that sense of loneliness would be harder to find.  In a world where separation and alienation is rampant I want to remind you, and myself, that we all have worth, and that we are not alone.

 

I love food, but have struggled with how it fits into my life and that struggle has caused many bouts of depression and countless moments of insecurity.  As I have learned to battle those feelings and learned the power of delicious, healthy food, that relationship has begun to mend.  This process is something that I hope to share with all of you.  So, after 3 months of this nervous making stay, I shall write my story and the foods that bring color and excitement to it.  It’s time to take the leap with both feet.  Here I type knowing this won’t be perfect, knowing the odds are against me and knowing I won’t please everyone.  Coming from a perpetual people pleaser, this gives me anxiety, but I am ready to face my demons and put it all out there, to give you my lessons in hopes that you can gain something from it.  It won’t always be pretty.  This isn’t a blog about how my life was fixed when I lost weight.  It’s a blog about how my life and myself continues to evolve as I try to better myself and learn from my mistakes.

I hope you will come with me on this journey.  I can’t wait to get to know all of you a bit more and let you into my life.

There are a few changes since I last posted, you should know about.  One of those things is that it turns out I am allergic to dairy.  I have been having stomach issues for the past 2 years with no solution.  I tried eating less raw vegetables and fruit and taking pills before I ate.  I was eating as much of any probiotic filled thing I could find, nothing fixed it.    I talked to my doctors countless times to explain why I had such stomach pains.  It was like terrible cramps all around my lower abdomen and lower back, not to mention the bloating that had me looking 7 months pregnant in a matter of a few minutes.  It was awful.  My doctor, time and time again, asked me to eliminate dairy, just to see.  I was reluctant.  I like my cheese, yogurt, and especially ice cream and I didn’t want to deal with the possibility of never having those flavors or textures.  Finally, it just got too bad.  I could hardly get through lunch and constantly went to bed in pain, so I tried it.  Dairy-free for a month, and you know what?  The discomfort went away.  I felt less sluggish, the bloating and pain disappeared and my periodic bouts of nauseas never came back.  So, I am now dairy-free.  This is not something I think you should do as a diet choice.  Dairy has a lot of really wonderful nutritional benefits like the obvious calcium, but also tons of protein and really great probiotics to help your digestive system.  In saying that, if you are experiencing discomfort like this, talk to your doctor about possibly being dairy intolerant.  It may be your answer.

So here I was, knowing that dairy did not want to be my friend, but feeling like I had lost a partner.  So I did what I always do, I started to research, looking into cheese alternatives that were not only dairy free, but also low in calorie and fat (the latter it turns out is harder to find then you would think), but I was able to find some products and play around with how they work with other ingredients.  This recipe is the result of this.  Who doesn’t enjoy cheese stuffed anything?!  Not to mention, I love a good meatball with marinara.  A meatball is like the original perfect bite sized food, giving you tons of flavor in one moment.   The problem is that beef is often high in calorie and leaner options leave you disappointed with its dry crumbly texture.

This recipe fixes all of that.  We start with ground chicken breast (don’t worry no dry texture here) and then add mushrooms and chickpeas.  You heard me, chickpeas!  Beans in a meatball?!  Trust me, it works wonders!

The mushrooms deliver a wonderful savory mouthfeel with some added moisture.  The chickpeas replace the traditional breadcrumb to bind the ingredients as well as adding some flavor and protein.  Add that with the cheesy center and some fresh basil to brighten up the flavors and you have a winner!  Jeff and I are addicted to these meatballs.  They are seriously only one point per serving and have a whopping 33 grams of protein per serving.  I always have them available as I make a large recipe and freeze half for easy lunches and meals throughout the week.  I love to pair them with my Super Easy 10 Minute Marinara especially, when we have unexpected company or I need a quick appetizer.  They have no idea that they are so healthy for you…and that they are dairy-free.

I want to be clear.  Not all of my recipes will be dairy- free going forward, but they will all have a dairy-free option.   Also note, that this recipe can easily be done with regular cheese, or even non-fat cheese.  So make this to work with your lifestyle and let me know what you do.  I love to hear about all of your creative ideas.

The moral of this long winded story?  Don’t wait.  Don’t let your nervousness get in your way of trying.  This quote now sits on my desk ready to remind me of what I need to do today.

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” Eleanor Roosevelt

 

So here’s to doing something scary, and enjoying some meatballs.  Happy Feasting Everyone!

 

 

Dairy Free, Yet Cheesy, Chicken Meatballs
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These meatballs are super moist even though they have almost no fat! Enjoy them on their own as a fun appetizer, or over some spaghetti, or my favorite, roasted spaghetti squash. However you have them, they are bound to impress both you and your family. Also, if you aren't dairy-free, feel free to use regular mozzarella or even fat free. It will work either way. For make-ahead options, see Recipe Notes*!
Course Appetizer, Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Weight Watcher Points 1 Freestyle Smart Point
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
servings (5 meatballs each)
Ingredients
Course Appetizer, Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Weight Watcher Points 1 Freestyle Smart Point
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
servings (5 meatballs each)
Ingredients
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
  2. Finely chop mushrooms and chickpeas until you have a paste. (This is easiest in a food processor). Put mixture into a large bowl.
  3. Add ground chicken breast garlic, onion, egg, basil, dairy-free parmesan topping, almond milk, salt, and pepper to large bowl with mushroom mixture.
  4. Mix until completely incorporated.
  5. Using two spoons or a small dough scoop, create meatballs and place on parchment lined sheet pans. 25 meatballs should fit on a 1/2 sheet pan.
  6. Using your hands roll each meatball to make sure they are even and round. They don't need to be perfect. You just want to make sure they are the same size so that they all cook evenly.
  7. Using a deep 1/4 tsp measuring spoon, or anything else that is similar like the tip of a wooden spoon or even your pinky finger, create crevices in each meatball. Make sure to make them fairly deep without touching the bottom of the pan.
  8. On a cutting board, lightly chop the mozzarella shreds so that the pieces can easily fit into the hole in the meatball. The 3/4 of a cup grated should turn into about 2/3 of a cup after it is chopped.
  9. Using a 1/4 tsp. measure fill each crevice with your chopped mozzarella.
  10. Gently pulling the bottom of the meatball up, seal the meatball so that the mozzarella is securely in the middle.
  11. Bake for 30 minutes until temperature reaches 165 degrees. If your oven is like mine, you will need to switch the pans half way through for even cooking.
  12. While meatballs are cooking make your sauce (recipe in link at recipe notes), or if you have already made it, heat it to a simmer.
  13. Once meatballs are cooked, add to sauce. Stir and serve over pasta or spaghetti squash with a basil garnish. I also love to serve these as an appetizer. Just put in a toothpick with a small drop of marinara and pretty basil sprig. Viola!
Recipe Notes

*Make Ahead Options:

- Make meatballs through Step 10 (just before baking them) and wrap sheet pans tightly and refrigerate up to one day.

- These meatballs freeze beautifully.  Make through Step ll and place in freezer bags. This will keep for up to 4 months in the freezer.

For my Super Easy 10 Minute Marinara recipe go HERE.

For Recipe Builder Calculation please click HERE.

*Note that, as with all of my recipes, if you use a different brand, there may be a slight change in points total. Let me know if you find a brand of something that you like. I am always looking for new and exciting ingredients.

Nutrition Facts
Dairy Free, Yet Cheesy, Chicken Meatballs
Amount Per Serving
Calories 241 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 9%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 21mg 7%
Sodium 810mg 34%
Potassium 178mg 5%
Total Carbohydrates 19g 6%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 2g
Protein 33g 66%
Vitamin A 14%
Vitamin C 8%
Calcium 20%
Iron 7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

2 Comments

  • Linda Mills

    The meatballs look and sound yummy, definitely going to try. I just bought some ground chicken.
    I started following you on WW Connect today. I’m looking forward to your recipes – I love to cook. I’m also lactose intolerant. Wishing you a confident success.

    • TediP

      Hey Linda! Thanks so much for the support. I can’t wait to hear what you think of the meatballs. Let me know if you have any questions and make sure to post a picture tagging The Everyday Feast. I love to see your creations! Happy Feasting!!

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