Grain-Free Spinach & Meatball Bake

by Susan on October 29, 2014

 

Despite what my company name implies, I will admit that my kids aren’t huge fans of spinach. They never ask for it, but they *do* eat it. Mostly in green smoothies or when it’s really worked into a sauce to the point it’s basically unidentifiable.

This recipe is the one exception. It’s an adaptation of a Rachael Ray recipe that is basically meatballs on top of creamed spinach. The great thing is that once everything is smothered in tomato sauce and cheese the kids honestly don’t even notice there’s none of the pasta they’d expect to find in a meatball dish.

I greatly tweaked the original recipe to make it gluten/grain-free. Since I made my meatballs from scratch, I did take the shortcut of using jarred organic marinara rather than making my own. I also reworked the spinach layer so that the only dairy in the dish is the cheese on top. If you’re dairy-free I’d recommend Daiya shredded mozzarella to finish it off.

If you’re short on time, feel free to use prepared meatballs. Since the only cooking of the completed dish is the broiler, make sure your meatballs are cooked first.

This family-friendly (and loaded with spinach!) casserole is grain, gluten and sugar-free.

Grain-Free Spinach & Meatball Bake
adapted from Rachael Ray

1 batch cooked meatballs  (made from 1 lb. meat… I made our favorite pesto meatballs)
24-28 oz. jar of organic marinara sauce
2 tbs. olive oil
1/2 medium chopped onion
salt & pepper
2 defrosted boxed of chopped spinach (10 oz. each)
1/2 cup organic chicken broth
1/2 cup canned full-fat coconut milk
generous grating of fresh nutmeg
2 cups shredded cheese (I used a combination of mozzarella and Parmesan)

Wring out defrosted spinach in paper towels or a clean kitchen towel until most of the liquid is removed. Set aside.

Add olive oil to a skillet on medium-high. Add onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook for one minute.

Add spinach, broth and coconut milk to the skillet. Season with nutmeg and stir, cooking for another 2 minutes or until thick.

Preheat broiler.

Spread spinach mixture into the bottom of a greased baking dish. Top with the meatballs and tomato sauce.

Sprinkle shredded cheese evenly over the top of the dish. Place under the preheated broiler about 6 inches from the heat to melt and evenly brown the cheese about 3 minutes.Remove from the broiler and allow to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.

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“The Elvis” Green Smoothie

by Susan on October 28, 2014

The kids and I have a new favorite show on the Food Network; Hungry Games is all about the science behind food, and involves fun trivia and experiments. In the episode we watched volunteers had to try to identify foods while blindfolded, with their nose blocked and then unblocked.

It was fascinating to learn how our different senses influence how we taste things. It also inspired the boy to request that we conduct our own food experiment. Thus, the Elvis Green Smoothie was born.

My son loves the combination of honey, banana and nut butter which we always dub “Elvis” (after the late singer’s favorite sandwich).  While it was in the dark ages before my better camera and kitchen “studio,” my original Elvis smoothie recipe was and still is the bomb.

Yesterday I made TWO smoothies, one following the original recipe to the letter. For the second one I threw in a big handful of baby spinach and 1/2 small ripe avocado.

We then broke out a bandana blindfold and the boy got to sipping. Do you think he could taste a difference?

Hmm… would I be sharing this post if he could? ;)

I am always plugging the use of both spinach and avocado in smoothies and this experiment proves mu point. Spinach adds nutrition without affecting the flavor, and the avocado adds both a healthy boost AND a little extra creaminess to the texture.

If your kids are a little leery of green smoothies, maybe try this test out! (although that’s assuming they aren’t leery of what you might serve them when blindfolds are involved!)

This recipe is gluten, grain, dairy and refined sugar-free. Can be nut-free if you make it with sunflower seed butter.

“The Elvis” Green Smoothie

1 frozen banana, cut into chunks
2 tbs. raw nut butter (or sunflower seed butter)
1/2 ripe avocado
handful of baby spinach
2/3 cup non-dairy milk of choice
1/2 tsp. honey
few drops of vanilla or almond extract (optional)
1 tbs. ground flax

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

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“Tamale” Pie

October 27, 2014

You know whenever I use quotations in my recipe titles that something is not what it may seem. Perfect technique as we’re heading into Halloween and I’m trying to highlight healthy (and tasty!) tricks. I adapted this dish from a Rachael Ray casserole recipe. She dubs it a tamale pie because she uses boxed cornbread [...]

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Crunchy Pumpkin Spice Granola

October 25, 2014

This time of year there are two camps: the pumpkin spice lovers and everyone else. I suppose it’s rather clear what camp I fall into by the number of pumpkin recipes I share. Yes, I love pumpkin, That does not mean, however, that I’m a fan of Starbucks Pumpkin Spice lattes or pumpkin Oreos. I [...]

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Bacon Honey-Mustard Dressing

October 24, 2014

I love bacon, which surprises many of my friends. Perhaps I should clarify, then, that I love the good stuff: uncured, nitrite-free bacon. We love bacon so much around here that the girl has declared it’s the one food that would keep her from ever becoming a vegetarian (with all due respect to my vegetarian [...]

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Paleo Sweet & Sour Meatballs

October 23, 2014

I will never order meatballs out at a restaurant. There’s just no way of knowing what they contain, from dairy and gluten to any number of possible proteins. Meatballs are just the great unknown. I don’t really know what my point is, other than to establish the merits of making meatballs from scratch. My kids [...]

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Sugar-Free Almond Butter Bites

October 22, 2014

I just didn’t know what to call these. They’re kind of like a muffin but a little bit more dense. I think if I had baked them in a pan and sliced them up I could dub them bars, but I decided to cop out and opt for “bites.” While you could call these many [...]

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Maple Roasted Pears & Sweet Potatoes

October 21, 2014

I will roast just about any fruit or vegetable, any time of the year. Come fall and winter, though, I’m utterly obsessed. While roasting sweet potatoes is a pretty standard way to prepare them, throwing pears into the mix is a little bit unexpected. Add maple syrup and butter to the equation and it’s a [...]

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Grain-Free Blueberry-Lemon Mug Muffin

October 20, 2014

  Mug muffins are my favorite breakfast for busy mornings that are a little too chilly to call for a smoothie. I’ve made so many different variations but created this one particularly for my daughter, who loves anything lemon. This is a great recipe to share now, as I’m devoting this week to natural sweeteners [...]

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Spaghetti Pie

October 19, 2014

This is a fun baked pasta dish that is loaded with veggies! I adapted the recipe from Pinch of Yum, using brown rice spaghetti to make it gluten-free. While I used all of the vegetables called for in the original recipe (onion, celery, carrot and spinach) you could definitely change it up a bit based [...]

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