Disclosure: This is a longer post than my usual. To skip the story, scroll down to the good stuff.
My husband is so funny. He thinks he’s 8/10 funny (on a scale of 1-10) and the older he gets, the more dad jokes he tells.
The day that I was cooking and shooting my Blueberry BBQ Turkey Burger, I went to grab the ground turkey mid-cooking only to find that it wasn’t in the refrigerator. That’s odd. I thought I had put it there. I asked my husband if he knew where it was and he told me, “freezer.”
Well I can’t use frozen meat when I need it right now. I was pretty frustrated at him. A small argument ensued about where meat goes when we bring it home from the grocery store, and about how he usually asks me where to put the meat except for this ONE time.
So he went to our grocery store, about 5 minutes down the road, to grab the ground turkey for me. I was still upset at him (mostly about the argument) and he was annoyed at me, so when he got home he dropped the grocery bag on the table next to me and walked away.
I look in the bag. Ladies and gentlemen, it was ground BEEF. 2.5 lbs of GROUND BEEF. He went to the store for ground turkey and came back with a massive heap of ground beef. I remember putting my fingers to my forehead, and closing my eyes. I guess I was trying to will the disappointment out of my brain because he DID go, and he surely made an innocent mistake. I said, “Thanks for the ground BEEF!” in a slightly sarcastic way. Hey, it’s much nicer than what I was thinking.
In walks my husband with a huge smile on his face and a second grocery bag. He plops the bag on the table, and I find two cartons of ground turkey.
He’s sooo funny. He thought this was hilarious. I can imagine what he was thinking when he saw the ground beef at the store. “She’d be so mad. I’m doing it.” I love him for it, because we started laughing and the argument was done. A speck of dust in the past. In our marriage, laughter and being quick to forgive and move on has been paramount.
So now I have 2.5 lbs of ground beef. I needed to use it. Enter, Swedish Meatballs.
I had been wanting to try to make a healthier version of Swedish meatballs. I found a couple of recipes and altered the ingredients for a healthier, gluten-free and dairy-free version. It is now a meal for the books.
These healthy Swedish meatballs take a bit more time, but will be a crowd pleaser for your dinner guests (even if it’s just the family). Let’s get to some notes.
Meat: After making these the first time with all beef, I decided to use a mixture of beef and pork. Both are incredibly delicious. You could also use ground turkey or ground chicken for a more heart-healthy dinner.
Coconut cream: I always prefer Trader Joe’s coconut cream. It is pure white and creamy and delicious. I frankly don’t know of anything similar to it because once I found TJ’s coconut cream, I stopped looking elsewhere. However, if you are working with something else, cream of coconut perhaps, you will be fine. I have made this with cream of coconut before, and it worked just as well. The sauce was darker and sweeter, but if you’re okay with that then go for it. Maybe add a bit more Dijon to balance that sweetness, but it’s really up to you.
*Whole 30: I have yet to do a whole 30 challenge, but we eat quite a few meals that would be Whole 30 compliant. This note is for my Whole 30 friends. This meal CAN be whole 30 compliant. There are just a few ingredients that you need to make sure are compliant. Find a compliant Dijon mustard, and sub arrowroot or tapioca flour for the cornstarch.
Now, to make Swedish meatballs. This recipe really isn’t difficult, it’s just a tad time-consuming. Definitely worth it though. To start, you have to roll the meatballs. Add all of the meatball ingredients to a large bowl, and mix. You can do this with a wooden spoon, but I always have better results when using my hands.
If your meat is straight out of the refrigerator, then your hands will get the hand equivalent of a brain freeze. Also, parts of your face or head will get a random itch. It WILL happen. Only because you now have meat hands and can’t touch anything. Fight through it. You’re a warrior. A meatball Viking. You can resist the itch.
Then you roll the meatballs. Have a friend to talk with, a show on, or listen to a favorite podcast while you’re doing all of this. Set it up ahead of time so you don’t have to touch anything with those meat hands.
I use a small cookie scoop so that the meatballs are close in size. It makes cooking them easier. But I have done this with a regular spoon as well, and eyeballed it. They all survived.
After browning the meatballs, you remove them and use the same skillet to start the sauce. It’s a very easy sauce, you just have to keep whisking it. It will thicken very quickly. Then add the meatballs back to the skillet and coat in the sauce.
I like to serve these over spaghetti squash. They would also be delicious over polenta or mashed potatoes.
A riff off of the traditional Swedish meatballs, this dish boasts the same flavor with healthier ingredients. Saucy with a hint of sweet, these meatballs are gluten free, refined sugar free, soy free, and dairy free. Serve over spaghetti squash or polenta for a deeply satisfying meal.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup almond flour
- 1 large egg
- 2 tbsp parsley
- 4 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- Coconut oil (for cooking)
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 cup coconut cream
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp salt (or more, to taste)
- freshly cracked black pepper (to taste)
- In a large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients except coconut oil. With your hands or a spatula, mix ingredients just until combined. Scoop out a tablespoon at a time and roll into evenly sized balls. Place on a parchment lined plate or baking sheet.
- Heat a thin layer of coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook meatballs in batches. Brown on one side then turn to cook other sides. Cook until meatballs are cooked through. This will be much easier if your meatballs are the same size. Remove cooked meatballs to a plate and start the next batch, adding more coconut oil if needed. Drain the skillet and set back on the burner to make the sauce.
- For the sauce, return the skillet to low heat and add the coconut oil (from sauce ingredients). Using a whisk, whisk in the cornstarch and continue to whisk vigorously. Once the cornstarch and oil are combined, slowly pour in beef broth. Whisk continuously as mixture thickens and is smooth.
- Increase heat to medium and add the remaining sauce ingredients. Whisk and simmer until thickened.
- Return meatballs to skillet and cover with sauce. Remove skillet from heat and serve immediately. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
You can sub ground turkey or chicken for the beef and pork, or use all beef or all pork. If you’re doing Whole 30, make sure you use a compliant starch instead of cornstarch, and a compliant dijon mustard. These serve well over spaghetti squash, polenta, or mashed potatoes.