Secret Ingredient Swedish Meatballs

Food, GF, Uncategorized

John and I decided in late December to complete a January Whole30. We’re on day 11 and going strong! One thing that I’m loving about Whole30 so far is how creative it has pushed me to be in the kitchen.

If you follow me on Instagram (@bethannsbites – go follow if you don’t already!), you saw the Swedish meatballs I prepped for week one. I was so excited to share this recipe with you that I even shared a glamour shot preview!

These Swedish Meatballs are your meal prep dream. The real deal plus a special ingredient that makes them my own. They freeze well and reheat well for meal preps or leftovers.

I bet you’re wondering by now what the secret ingredient is, it’s sage. Swedish Meatballs are typically seasoned with allspice and nutmeg but I’ve added sage for two reasons: 1. I love a sage sausage. 2. my parents always get their pork processed with the same butcher and have for my entire life and he puts a heavenly amount of sage in every batch, so it’s partially nostalgia.

Regardless, I PROMISE you won’t regret giving this recipe a try whether you’re on your own Whole30 journey, Gluten Free, or just looking for a decently healthy meal for the family!

Ingredients

For the meatballs:

  • 1 lb plain ground pork (I got an 80/20 ratio)
  • 1 lb ground beef (I got a 93/7 ratio)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

For the gravy

  • 1/4 cup clarified butter or ghee
  • 3 tbsp arrowroot starch
  • 2 cups beef broth or beef bone broth (if you’re on Whole30 check for sulfites and sugar!)
  • 3 tbsp coconut cream (can sub nutpods or compliant milk if on Whole30)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Procedure

  1. In a skillet, saute onions in olive oil over medium heat until they become almost clear.
  2. In a large mixing bowl add sautéed onions to ground beef, ground pork, almond flour, eggs and seasonings. Mix well and form into 1-2 inch meatballs.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes on a baking sheet – I sprayed mine with avocado oil.
  4. While meatballs are baking, heat ghee, beef broth, and coconut cream in a saucepan over medium heat.
  5. Take about a 1/2 cup of broth and place in a small bowl. Whisk arrowroot starch in. It will turn white-ish in color and be thin at first.
  6. Add the arrowroot slurry to the beef broth that is still on the stove. Continue to whisk the gravy until it thickens.
  7. When you noticed it has thickened, remove from heat or place on very low heat setting and avoid much stirring. Arrowroot gravy can come apart from overheating or over-stirring.
  8. Serve with a great mashed potato and a veggie side for a balanced meal.

Be sure to give this recipe a try! If you like it, share on Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #biteswithbeth — and tell all of your friends! They need this recipe in their life too! These Whole30 approved Swedish Meatballs will change your life!

Whole30 Aldi Must Haves

Food, Nutrition, Whole30

I decided in late December after finally having the chance to read The Whole30: 30-Day Guide to Total health and food freedom, to do my first Whole30 in January of 2020. After I mulled over grocery lists, made sad attempts at meal plans, and made several off-hand comments about how difficult this was going to be (I know, I know, “This is NOT hard…”), John decided Whole30 would be a great idea for him as well. I’m very persuasive, obviously.

If you’re currently planning and prepping for your first Whole30, you may be in the “sticker shock” stage that I found myself just a couple weeks ago. Whole30 is a temporary shift in your diet to eliminate problematic things that may be causing food sensitivities and allergies or otherwise not making you feel your best. Unfortunately, many of those things that may not be making us feel our very best are in like, EVERY-thing. This can make buying higher quality alternatives to your normal grocery items seem very expensive.

Not to fear, you don’t need to shop exclusively at trendy health-food stores to get the supplies you’ll need to sustain yourself for the next 30 days, Aldi has our backs.

1.Produce

Aldi has an array of affordable produce. This is especially helpful if you’re attempting a Whole30 in a state with colder weather in the middle of the winter. Although I live in Texas with year-round affordable produce (woohoo!), I remember my days as a broke college student who could only afford the Aldi produce section during the winter months. Aldi often has “club packs” of avocados like you’d find at Sam’s Club for $2-3 less than Sam’s. They carry lots of seasonal fruits and veggies often with organic varieties as well.

2. Nuts

There were a variety of nuts available at Aldi – the thing you want to pay attention to is whether they are dry roasted or if they may contain oils or preservatives that are not Whole30 approved.

I found two versions of pistachios: Roasted with Shells and Shelled. In the true spirit of Whole30, although the shelled option appears convenient, it can turn into a situation where you consume many more Pistachios due to the extreme convenience. Before you know it, you’ve eaten the entire bag of pre-shelled pistachios.

3. Salsa

I found 4 or 5 Casa Mamita varieties of salsa that contained no sugar, sulfites, cornstarch, etc. They carried both a more Artisanal-feeling Organic variety as well as a variety that is not organic and seems comparable to Tostitos Salsa.

4. Hot Sauce

I found this Valentina hot sauce for just over a DOLLAR for the biggest bottle they make! Hot sauce is a great way to add some variety to your recipes later in the month when your routine may feel monotonous.

5. Kombucha

I found this GT’s Kombucha, which is Whole30 approved, for about 50 cents cheaper than I’ve found it in other stores! They have many more varieties of Kombucha but GT’s was the only variety I found at Aldi that had no added sugar and was appropriate for Whole30.

6. Barbacoa and Carnitas – convenience proteins!!

One of the daunting aspects of Whole30 is that it is so much prep from scratch. This can add hours to your kitchen prep time. I was pleasantly surprised to find this compliant Barbacoa and Carnitas that are a good convenience protein to be reheated when you’re low on time.

7. Fresh Meats

I found compliant ground beef, pork chops, stew meat, and various other cuts of beef and pork. Read labels carefully in the meat section! It seems to be of a pretty good quality, especially for the price point. I did note, however, that none of the chicken I saw was compliant as it had preservatives in it that are not Whole30 approved.

8. Bone Broth

Bone broth can extremely expensive and I’ve found many varieties in other stores that have added sugars or unapproved starches. I was pleasantly surprised to find Chicken or Beef Broth for only $2.99. If you find yourself without 6-12 hours to make your own bone broth (hahaha), this is an excellent Whole30 compliant option.

9. Chicken Sausage

I found this Never Any Country Style Chicken breakfast sausage that is Whole30 Compliant! This might make a quick addition to your breakfast before work. Pair it with fruit and potatoes or another vegetable for a balanced breakfast.

10. Olives and Peppers

The Tuscan Garden variety of black olives and Banana Pepper Rings as well as the Specially Selected Kalamata olives are Whole30 compliant. The banana pepper rings are a great find – I looked at the name brand in HEB and it contained noncompliant preservatives plus it was more than a dollar more expensive!

11. Tomato Paste and Sauce

Happy Harvest Tomato Paste and Tomato Sauce are both Whole30 compliant and at an extremely reasonable price point. Watch canned varieties of tomatoes (diced, stewed) carefully, though – I found several that were not compliant!

12. Healthy Fats and Oils

If for nothing else, go to Aldi to stock your pantry with affordable healthy fat sources! I found this Carlini light olive oil (perfect for the Mayo mentioned in the Whole30 book!) as well as several darker varieties of Olive Oil. All of the Olive Oils I looked at in my Aldi were Whole30 approved since they contained only pure olive oil! This Carlini Ghee was an awesome find at only $6.99! There were also several other Whole30 approved fat sources in this section such as coconut oil, coconut manna, and avocado oil. There were several organic versions available as well!

13. Canned Fruits

I was able to find many varieties of canned fruits packed in 100% juice with no added sugar and Whole30 compliant. I also found many varieties of canned fruit packed in syrup so read your labels in this section!!

14. Fun toppings

I found these compliant Marinated Mushrooms and Jalapeno Guacamole that could be fun to add to a meal you have on repeat. These juicy little flavor bombs will add a fun kick to even your most boring meal and they’ll keep you on your Whole30 meal plan!

15. Fruit Juices

I found a great variety of 100% juices at Aldi including pomegranate, black cherry, cranberry, and prune. All of the ones mentioned were Whole30 compliant and can be used to flavor sauces or aide in seasoning meats. To maintain the true spirit of Whole30 they should not be consumed on their own!

16. Frozen Veggies

I found many 16 oz frozen vegetable options for only 99 cents! This is a great way to get your servings of vegetables in on Whole30 without breaking the bank!

This is by no means a conclusive list of Whole30 compliant options that can be found at Aldi! I’m sure there are many other great Whole30 compliant options at your local Aldi store. The key takeaway and one of the many great lessons of Whole30 here, is to read your labels and know what it is you’re looking for or looking to avoid. Aldi also has different varieties regionally so I’d encourage you to go explore your local store today to score some health-conscious deals!

I hope this list was helpful to you! If you’d like to see more posts like this, please leave a comment to let me know!

Gluten Free Must Haves

Allergies, Food, GF, Nutrition

Because I know how overwhelming making a major diet change can be, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite gluten free products. I will admit, I felt completed restricted when I began the switch to gluten free options. Strangely, I felt limited to JUNK foods! I found foods that were labeled gluten free and marketed as such. This led me to a small little corner of an aisle in HEB with about five things to choose from.

Before we dive into the list of Gluten Free must haves, it’s important to understand labels and the distinctions between gluten free and other things you might see on a food label. I personally gravitate towards Gluten Free options not because of a gluten intolerance, but because of a wheat allergy.

Gluten is naturally occurring and can be found in a variety of foods including: wheat, barley, rye, bulgur, and oats. It’s important to note that the oats themselves do not produce gluten but there is often cross contamination during processing. If you are GF for a gluten intolerance, be sure to get certified Gluten Free Oats, should you choose to enjoy them.

Gluten Free All Purpose Flour

GF All Purpose Flour is a safe place to start when making the switch. Other flours can take a learning curve to figure out what exactly they’ll work for and how you personally like to eat them. The great thing about GF All Purpose is that it can be swapped 1-for-1 for any recipe you’d use regular flour in. (Note that you’ll want to verify this on the package when you are purchasing as some GF flours leave out xantham gum, which is an important binder for some recipes.

A few GF all purpose flours that I have tried and loved are as follows.

  • King Arthur Gluten Free Measure for Measure flour – this is a finer flour, great for baking
  • Pillsbury Gluten Free Multi-Purpose Flour – this flour has a friendly price point and is great for cooking as well as baking depending on your project!

Almond Flour

Almond flour is something you’ll DEFINITELY start to run into when you venture into GF baking and cooking. Many times, it is paired in varying amounts with other types of flour to achieve the taste and texture desired. If you’re looking for an easy place to start with Almond Flour, I suggest Kelsey from Little Bits Of Real Food’s Cheeseless Chicken Parm, or if you’re looking for something sweet and simple, Rachael’s Good Eats’ Cashew Chocolate Chip Cookie. In fact, I believe these were two of my first successful almond flour recipes that I tried! (I won’t lie, there are some DOOZIES out there!)

I’ve been very happy with HEB Store Brand, and for those of you not in the great state of Texas, Bob’s Red Mill and Nature’s Eats are both affordable and good quality Almond Flours as well.

Coconut Flour

Similarly to Almond Flour, Coconut Flour is Often mixed with varying amounts of other flours to achieve the taste and texture desired. Coconut flour is a good thickener. Because of it’s role as a thickener, it is important to mention that it will suck up ALL of the liquid. This makes it unideal for baked goods on its own, but fantastic when mixed with other types of flour.

Potatoes, Rice, Oats

This one may seem obvious, but when I went Gluten Free, I went HUNGRY because I hadn’t adjusted my diet to be balanced. I just started avoiding wheat and all the other things. It was tough, wheat is in a lot of things and this girl sometimes requires a healthy amount of carbs to feel satisfied (and avoid eating 300 servings of chocolate later!)

Potatoes can be an excellent healthy carb in moderation. We like to keep some type of white/gold/red potato as well as Sweet Potatoes and occasionally Japanese Sweet Potatoes as a special treat – they’re hard to find in our area unless we drive an hour to Whole Foods!

Although rice itself is gluten free, if you’re avoiding due to gluten intolerance, be sure to get a brand that is certified Gluten Free. I like Lundberg Farms. They are Gluten Free, Non-GMO, and carry just about any type of rice you could possibly want! We swear there is a taste difference as well, it’s just better.

Oats are another simple pantry staple that are so useful for a hearty bowl of oatmeal or to use when baking…or not baking – don’t discount those No Bake Cookies you felt so adult when you made by yourself in middle school! As previously mentioned, if you’re avoiding gluten be sure to get Gluten Free Oats!

Bob’s Red Mill GF Products

I know, I know, I’ve mentioned Bob’s Red Mill a lot in this post. It’s not sponsored, they just have so many great Gluten Free Options. A few that I highly recommend trying out – especially if you’re new to GF and just learning to make all of those carby wheaty things you’re probably craving, are:

  • Bob’s Red Mill GF Pancake Mix: I can typically find a great deal on this in bulk on Amazon. It’s great because it’s so easy to customize for whatever type of pancake you’re craving. I also recently modified the recipe to create THE BEST gluten free waffles I’ve had.
  • Bob’s Red Mill GF Pizza Dough Mix: I’ve really only ever used this to make pizza, but it makes a delicious, massive, satisfying pizza big enough to share with friends.
  • As previously mentioned, their almond flour, all purpose Gluten Free, and Gluten Free Oats are high quality and affordable as well!

Simple Mills Chocolate Chip Cookies (NOT the soft baked – the crunchy.

Though I wouldn’t call these a pantry staple, they are SUPER good and healthy-ish. Just be sure to get your serving out of the box and then tuck that sucker far far away and out of reach because you WILL eat the whole box.

Simple Mills Soft Baked Peanut Butter Cookies

I just recently tried the Soft Baked Peanut Butter Cookies. I won’t lie, I bought the soft baked Chocolate Chip several months ago and was super disappointed. They were delicious but I really had my heart set on the Crunchy Simple Mills Chocolate Chip cookies. There’s just something about them. I digress. The Soft Baked Peanut Butter Cookies are phenomenal on their own but would also be decadent when paired with a chocolate mousse or pudding.

Simple Mills Crackers

I love a good box of Simple Mills Crackers. They’re a simple snack or side to add to a packed lunch. They are awesome alone and even better when paired with Hummus or Kitehill Cream Cheese. My personal favorites are Sun-Dried Roasted Tomato and Rosemary and Sea Salt.

As I began to work on this post, I realized I have a lot of feelings on this topic. What can I say? I love food and I’m allergic to so much of it! If you’re just getting started with a GF diet and don’t know where to start, send me a message with questions! I will do my best to help you out!

Mari’s Blender Salsa

Appetizers, Food, Sauces

I’ve always loved Mexican Food, even when I didn’t know real Mexican Food, I loved ‘taco night.’ Thankfully, I grew up to learn what real Mexican Food is and realize that it is sooo much better than the Americanized version I grew up with. I went to great restaurants introduced to me by even better people, learned to cook authentic Mexican dishes from dear friends, and eventually gained the confidence to give those recipes my own twist. This recipe is my take on my soul sista, Mari’s, homemade salsa.

This recipe is quick, simple, and deeply satisfying with chips, used in another dish, or to top your favorite recipe. I love this recipe because it is so quick and low prep. No tedious dicing and chopping – and if you’re like me, worrying if your pieces are the same size!

Ingredients

  • 5 Roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 of a large white onion, quartered
  • 1 tsp garlic powder – minced fresh garlic is great as well!
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice
  • 3 Tbsp fresh Cilantro

Procedure

  1. In a medium saucepan, place tomatoes and fill with water until completely covering the tomatoes bring to a boil and let the tomatoes boil until the skin begins to peel.
  2. Drain the water and allow tomatoes to cool briefly.
  3. Combine all ingredients in blender and blend for 30 seconds to 1 minute (if you have a high speed blender).

Be sure to try this recipe out and share your creation using #biteswithbeth on Instagram and Facebook!

Gluten Free Greek Pasta Salad 3 Ways

Food, GF, Salads

Pasta salad is always a crowd pleaser and never more satisfying than at a hot 4th of July barbecue. If you’re looking for a fuss-free potluck recipe that won’t have you roasting in the kitchen, this recipe is for you!

Pro-tip: If you’re a reader who has food allergies, I like to always bring a side that I’m able to eat and that I’m excited to eat! It keeps you in the clear to enjoy the party without worry of feeling crappy later!

Enjoy with Feta, if you’re not avoiding dairy
Enjoy over a bed of sweet baby greens for an extra nutrient dense meal
Or, with avocado for a dairy-free source of healthy fats

Ingredients

  • 16 oz gluten free pasta (dry) – I used Barilla Penne here
  • Large English Cucumber, quartered and cored, then sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 15oz can black olives

For the Greek dressing:

  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

To garnish:

  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, sliced

Procedure

  1. While water is heating to a boil, mix together the ingredients for the dressing in a shaker or bottle.
  2. Prep vegetables while pasta is cooking, setting aside in a large bowl with the dressing from step 1. Note: if you are using feta, toss it in the dressing as well so the flavors can marinate.
  3. When pasta is al dente, strain it over the sink running cold water through the strainer to cool.
  4. Toss cooled pasta with vegetables and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  5. When ready to serve: garnish with freshly sliced basil leaves tossing salad to be fully coated in dressing. Serve over a bed of greens or top with avocado as you please.

Be sure to share your creations on Instagram and tag @bethannsbites!

Tri-color Melon Salad with Lime Glaze

Food, Salads, Treats

One of my favorite things about summer has always been garden fresh food. For as long as I can remember, my dad has planted a large garden near the edge of his yard. I have loads of childhood memories helping my dad and sisters in the garden and even more memories of the tasty fresh food my mom would prepare with our harvest. Despite the fact that raccoons and deer almost always ate the corn we planted and I can’t remember a single successful watermelon, we’d plant them every year in hopes that this year would be different. All summer long we’d enjoy zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, and green beans – ugh – the sheer amount of work snapping green beans – with enough left over to share with family and friends. Late in the summer and into the fall, we’d be busy canning and freezing and storing our harvest to tide us over until the next summer.

This recipe features fresh mint from my garden. It is perfect for summer barbecues, 4th of July, and picnics. Eat it right away or let the flavors marinate overnight, either way you are sure to enjoy this light fruit salad.

Ingredients

  • 1 Watermelon
  • 1 Cantaloupe
  • 1 Honeydew Melon
  • 3 Tbsp Fresh Mint slivers

For the glaze:

  • 4 Tbsp honey, melted
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice

Procedure

  1. Wash watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew melon well. I recommend using 1 cup of white vinegar in the sink and let the melons bob for a while – spinning them occasionally to reach all sides of the melons.
  2. Slice melons in half, empty the shell using a melon-baller. Combine melon balls into a large bowl.
  3. Melt honey, stir until combined with lime juice in a small bowl or cup.
  4. Top melon balls with glaze and slices of mint – I like to just use kitchen shears to bring out the minty flavor and create a more consistent flavor profile.
  5. Stir to combine.

Drop me a comment below!

Lemon Garlic Brussels Sprout Salad

Food, Salads

I’m a sucker for a restaurant salad. Salads at home just never seem to hit the spot the same way – likely due to the fact that when preparing a salad at home I’m thinking of both nutritional impact and my true caloric needs. A quick review of a Steakhouse Salad (a dirty pleasure of mine) reveals that the restaurant industry is not always considering those same things. Nevertheless, this is NOT the case for this salad! Springy, delightful, and wholesome, this salad hits all the right spots and keeps you right on track with nutritional values.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups shaved Brussels sprouts
  • 1 cup whole garlic cloves, peeled and roasted
  • 6 cups organic spring mix
  • Lemon Garlic Dressing

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper, silpat mat or similar silicone mat, drizzle with 1 tbsp avocado oil.
  2. Add shaved Brussels sprouts with a bit of salt and pepper to the prepared baking sheet. Top with remaining avocado oil.
  3. Bake Brussels sprouts for 20 minutes or until crisped and brown at the edges
  4. Top spring mix with Brussels sprouts, and roasted garlic. If you’re not avoiding dairy, sprinkle with a grated Romano and Parmesan Cheese blend and drizzle dressing. I like Tessemae’s Lemon Garlic but homemade works well too!
  5. Toss and serve.