Twinks Gets Fit...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Spinach Meatballs, Sweet Potato Pancakes & Sweet Potato Fries

I really try to mix up Little's food so she doesn't get bored. To make this easier having a hectic schedule, I like to keep the freezer stocked with homemade stuff that just needs to be reheated. Here are two of my favorite recipes:

Spinach Meatballs--sooo YUMMY!
1 package Jennie-O ground turkey 93/7
1/2-2/3 package frozen spinach (I use Fresh & Easy's) can also use fresh, but frozen is a little easier
2 eggs
1/8-1/4 cup of bread crumbs (optional, but I think it holds them together better. If you leave these out, the recipe is gluten-free--I modified it this way for my best friend Sherry could eat them!)
Italian blend spice
Garlic powder
Olive oil cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2.Whisk eggs then mix together with ground turkey
3. If using frozen spinach, it's easiest to use a vegetable steamer. Fill base with water, add 1/2-2/3 of the bag, add cover, cook for about 4 minutes in microwave. If you don't have a steamer, follow package directions. Just be sure that once cooked, strain and blot thoroughly with paper towel. If using fresh spinach, fill a large saucepan about 1/2 full of water or so. Bring to a boil. In the meantime, cut stems off spinach and cut the leaves into strips. Once the water boils, toss in the spinach and "blanch" for about a minute. Strain and thoroughly blot with paper towel. Mix spinach into egg/turkey.
4. For the spice and garlic powder, I rarely measure. Use your judgement. Same with the bread crumbs, if you use them.
5. Spray a shallow baking pan (I wouldn't recommend a flat baking sheet) with olive oil cooking spray.
6. Shape into meatballs and bake for about 20 minutes or until cooked through.
The finished mixture before taking meatball form.
As you can see, there's a good amount of spinach in this recipe!
Makes about 16 golf-ball sized meatballs in my experience.

These are sooo good. I've used them mainly for Little (she loves them w/ Fresh & Easy's Goodness brand whole grain pasta shaped like animals and their pasta sauce, which has no sugar or artificial ingredients or preservatives added), but I've started using them for "adult" dinners too. These freeze really well!

Sweet Potato Pancakes

2 sweet potatoes
3 eggs
1 cup whole wheat flour (for a lighter texture, use 1/2 whole wheat, 1/2 all purpose)
2 tbsp of butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk (or more)

1. To cook sweet potatoes--Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scrub and poke holes in potato with knife (careful), then rinse with water (it helps cook them). Wrap in foil and cook 40-60 mins or until softer to the touch. Obviously use an oven mitt, but you should be able to squeeze it and have it "give." I usually cook these in advance if I'm making baked sweet potato fries. It's easier to work with once it's cooled. Just store in fridge in foil.

2. Mix sweet potatoes in a mixing bowl with eggs. Stir in the flour and add the baking powder.

3. Add up to 1/2 cup of milk, stirring. Use your judgment--mixture should have a thick, lumpy sauce consistency. Stir in 1-2 tbsp butter.

4. Heat a skillet to medium-high. I use a griddle because I can make more at once. Spoon batter (I like to use a 1/4 or 1/3 measuring cup to scoop and pour) onto the griddle and cook until bubbles rise to the surface of the pancakes and break.
5. Using a spatula, flip the pancakes and cook another 2 minutes or so until cooked through.

This recipe makes about 14-16 2 1/2-3 inch pancakes so you can increase or decrease the ingredients depending on how many you want to make. These also freeze really well. I use these mainly for a "side" for lunch/dinner for Little. She'll eat them plain, heated with a little butter, or with jam. I'll save pumpkin or banana oat or blueberry pancakes for breakfasts.

Since I mentioned them, though I don't have photos, here's the basic recipe for:

Baked Sweet Potato Fries that even the Sweet-Potato hating Hubs loves

1 large sweet potato, uncooked
1-2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
Cinnamon, ginger, brown sugar, nutmeg (whatever spices you'd like to add--I use cinnamon, ginger & nutmeg)
Olive oil cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Scrub potato then slice into wedges--they'll shrink a little once cooked so consider that when slicing
3. In a large bowl, mix together olive oil and spices. Toss wedges into bowl and mix around until all are coated. This can be a little awkward if you are doubling this recipe. It might be a good idea to use a large storage ziploc and toss, but you might need a little more oil.
4. Coat baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray then arrange a single layer of wedges.
5. Bake about 30-40 mins until tender.

These are far more nutritious than regular french fries and they're baked instead of fried. The Hubs seriously dislikes sweet potatoes, but I made these with dinner one night and he said he could eat a ton of them they're so good. Don't expect french fry consistency. They have a crispiness to the outside, but they're gooey on the inside. These are great for kids, too, but be sure they can handle the skins (Little had trouble the first time I made these for her, but does fine now).

The great thing about the top two recipes (if you pre-cook the sweet potatoes) is that they aren't terribly time-consuming for prep. Last week, I made both after work and got them cooking in about 15-20 mins while Little did this:

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