I am still getting used to cooking meat again after being a pescatarian for two years. While I felt great for a while, I initially ran into a wall and faced hormonal imbalances and hypothyroidism that needed more attention. Animal meat has an incredible abundance of micro-nutrients with higher bioavailability than many plant foods. Supplements are a great way to amp up your intake of micro-nutrients, but I wanted to make sure that my body was absorbing as much as possible. Vitamin B12 in particular is not available from any plant foods, and has to be in very specific forms for our bodies to benefit from supplements. So, I gradually began re-introducing meat into my diet.
Even before I was a pescatarian, I never considered myself a big meat-eater and I had convinced myself that I did not like meat. However, I had not paid attention to the difference between conventionally raised meat and grass-fed (and finished), pasture-raised meat. BIG difference!!! Not only in flavor, but also in quality, color, nutrient-density, and muscle or fat quantity and tenderness. It also helped that we were on a trip to Italy and France around the time I opened the doors to animal meat, so the quality and flavor was exceptional from the start.
Grass-fed, grass-finished and pasture-raised animal meats have many benefits over conventional grain or soy fed animal meats. Grass-fed and grass-finished cows have higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is a fatty acid that helps regulate blood sugar levels and can reduce onset of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and obesity. They also have higher ratios of omega 3 essential fatty acids, stearic acid, betacarotene, vitamin E, glutathione, zinc, and iron. Stearic acid does not raise cholesterol, omega 3 fats help our heart and brain (plus much more), betacarotene keeps our eyes healthy, and other vitamins and minerals help regulate so many of our day to day functions.
Although I gradually included meat into my meals, it still took me a while to want to cook it. Thankfully, Patrick quickly mastered the art of searing steaks and stir-frying ground meat, but I wanted to get more creative in the kitchen. After lots of scrolling through various blogs and Instagram posts, I found inspiration for working meat into my recipes again. And I have not lost my love for veggies, so I had to cook more than just a piece of steak with a side of roasted veggies. One of my latest adventures in the kitchen was adapted from AutoImmune Wellness after I found some wonderful spring produce and had leftover sweet potato. As it is getting warmer out, these salisbury meatballs taste great cold too. Enjoy!
Salisbury Meatballs with Summer Squash Salad
Serves 5-6, Total Cook Time: 1 hour
- 1lb grass-fed, grass-finished ground beef
- 1 cup sweet potato, mashed
- 1/4 c chopped parsley
- 1 TB coconut aminos
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 TB nutritional yeast
- 1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced into ribbons, and scraps cut into rounds
- 1 medium yellow summer squash, thinly sliced into ribbons and scraps cut into rounds
- 1 beet, cut into 1/4″ slices
- 2-4 carrots, coined
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 TB chopped fresh rosemary
- 4 TB beef tallow (or other fat – coconut oil, avocado oil)
- 3 TB arrowroot starch
- 3 cups beef broth
- optional 2 TB chopped fresh herbs (basil, mint, rosemary, parsley)
- In a mixing bowl using a wooden spoon or your hands, combine beef and next 6 ingredients until fully incorporated.
- Form beef mixture into 6 equal meatballs.
- Heat 1 TB of beef tallow in a dutch oven over medium-high heat, add meatballs and sear on both sides until brown or about 1-2 minutes. Remove meatballs from dutch oven and set aside.
- Add remaining beef tallow, garlic, and rosemary to dutch oven and sauté 2 minutes.
- Add arrowroot starch and whisk 3-5 minutes to form a roux-like consistency.
- Add broth and whisk frequently for 5-10 minutes while simmering to create a gravy.
- Pour gravy into a separate bowl, then add beets, carrots, and any squash scraps to the dutch oven. Place meatballs on top of the veggies.
- Pour gravy over the veggies and meatballs, cover with lid.
- Simmer on the stovetop for 35-40 minutes on low-medium heat. Meatballs should be cooked all the way through when finished.
- While meatballs are cooking, mix squash ribbons in a bowl with 1TB olive oil, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 TB lemon zest, and 1 TB chopped basil.
- Serve meatballs over veggies, drizzled with gravy, and with a side of summer squash salad.