Whole 30 Turkey Meatballs

For approximately the last two weeks I’ve been attempting to follow the Whole 30 diet to drop a couple of pounds, clean up my diet for the summer, and prepare for the Savage Race, an 8 mile run with obstacles that my coworkers talked me into and I am not nearly prepared for. For those of you not familiar with Whole 30, you basically can’t have anything I would normally reach for to keep me happy, i.e. dairy, sugar, CHEESE, and BREAD.

Why would anyone want to do this you say?? Aren’t you hungry all the time? It’s a great way to see what types of food irritate your body and you have to make sure you snack constantly to keep up your energy and fuel your metabolism. However it’s not without its challenges. Case in point: we’re not going to talk about the fresh baked Philly pretzel slathered in Philadelphia cream cheese that I broke down and ate 9 days in and washed down with a Devil’s Backbone Vienna Lager. Sorry not sorry.

With that being said, the next morning it was back to being compliant, at least for a few meals. I truly was seeing a difference in my energy level and waistline and while I don’t think sticking to an absolute Whole 30 diet is for me, I am open to adopting a modified version with occasional treats.

Before starting a stretch of 3 night shifts in a row preceeding what is sure to be a food-centric trip to New Orleans this weekend, I opted to hit the pavement for a 4 mile run and cook up some (mostly) Whole 30 friendly turkey meatballs to take with me to work so that I don’t hit the vending machine or the fast food options in the cafeteria. I found a great recipe on Pinterest that took me no time at all.

You will need:

  1. 1 Egg, beaten
  2. 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  3. 1 Small/Medium Onion, peeled and chopped into small pieces
  4. 3 Cloves Garlic, finely minced
  5. ¼ Cup Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
  6. 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  7. Salt & Pepper
  8. ¼ Cup Almond Flour
  9. 1 Tablespoon Coconut Flour
  10. 1 Pound Ground Turkey
  11. EVOO
  12. Tomato sauce

Preheat your oven to 400. Combine the first 9 ingredients and mix well, then add in your turkey. As a side note, make sure you read your labels on the tomato paste. It’s very difficult to avoid sugar unless you’re ordering something special online that probably costs an arm and a leg and you have to wait for. I chose a brand whose only ingredient listed was tomatoes. Most tend to list tomatoes and citric acid.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then heat a large skillet over medium-high heat coated in EVOO. Form the meat mixture into balls and sear in the hot oil for approximately 30 seconds on each side and until a brown crust develops. Then place them on the parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes.

Serve hot with your favorite tomato sauce! To be completely Whole 30 compliant you probably need to make your own pasta sauce to serve with the meatballs which can be very time-consuming. I’m here to tell you that if you do not have time to make your own sauce it’s okay to pick one from the store, just try to grab one that has as little sugar as possible. We can’t be perfect all the time 🙂

The meatballs weren’t too dry as turkey can often get and had quite a bit of flavor. If you’re worried about the almond and coconut flour you can’t really taste it so no worries there. The recipe also made 15 meatballs and has lasted me 3 nights at work thus far, which is pretty awesome when all I feel like doing is coming home and passing out after a shift. These will definitely get made again.

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Cosima

Within the city limits, at the end of Falls Road and near the neighborhood of Hampden, lies Cosima, a hidden gem in Mill No. 1. Keep your eyes peeled for the signs directing you down a steep driveway between the mill buildings that leads you to the restaurant’s front door and free valet parking. We almost missed it the first time!

Specializing in Southern Italian cuisine and owned by local chef Donna Crivello, Cosima is elevating beloved dishes with fresh combinations and eye-catching presentations that reflect the owner’s Sicilian grandmother. The restaurant is housed in what used to be a boiler room and has retained much of the brick work and a few pieces of the old machinery. Don’t let the centerpiece of skinny breadsticks on the table fool you into thinking they’re a decoration, you can eat them!

To start the meal we said an enthusiastic yes to the two offered varieties of homemade bread, one a focaccia with black olives, the other a crusty Italian bread, both freshly baked and served with creamy herbed butter.

In time honored tradition we each picked an appetizer to share with the table. The gnocchi is served in a small rectangular cast iron skillet piping hot from the oven, coated in a beautiful golden layer of breadcrumbs and dotted with herbs.

A favorite is always the burrata and this was no exception. It’s creamy and was the perfect consistency to spread across the Italian bread drizzled in olive oil, sea salt, and vin cotto, then topped with roasted cherry tomatoes and basil. You get a little bit of salty and sweet in each bite.

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If you’re also a fan of charcuterie, you can’t miss with the cured meats and aged cheeses with house made duck fat crackers and dried apricot mostarda. This appetizer goes well with any of the restaurant’s fantastic craft cocktails, most notably the Spritz and Abbella.

The highlight of the meal for me was my entrée, the Fettucine Nero con Aragosta, a grilled half lobster, house made cuttlefish ink pasta, and charred tomato lobster sauce. Our waitress made sure that the requisite claw cracker, shellfish fork, and bowl were present and you want to make sure you use them to get the sweet claw meat or you will be missing out!

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The contrast of the inky pasta against the brilliant red of the lobster makes for a beautiful dish but it was somewhat marred by the dearth of sauce that was pored over the lobster itself. Regardless it was tough not to over indulge in every single last bite of pasta and save some room for dessert.

One of Cosima’s most interesting dessert offerings is the sfinci, Sicilian doughnuts brought to the table in a paper bag, shaken up in a bath of cinnamon sugar and served piping hot. These are airy and light treats that put doughnut holes to shame. They also offer their own twist on the classic Italian cannoli and have several flavors of gelato along with a moderately sized menu of rotating desserts.

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Out of all the Italian restaurants I’ve visited over the years, Cosima is by far one I hope to find myself coming back to again and again to feel like I’ve gotten a little taste of Sicily.