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I’m not gonna lie. If I didn’t have a few shortcuts, clean eating with kids would be a bit hard at times. And I would be tempted to opt for the fast food option. I’m only human. Life is busy most of the time and cooking from scratch is time consuming.
So on that note … if you want to do this properly, then take a look at my post on how to make Pasta Sauce from scratch. The rest of you – read on. You are about to have a little peak into what real life is like in our family on a busy weeknight.
Tuesday night goes something like this.
We all walk through the front door at the same time. Well back door, because the route to the front is paved with mud. Loads of it. Through the door at the same time. Groceries, kids, dogs, cat and schoolbags. And sometimes that one chicken. I think it’s the same one.
Kids look at you and say “What’s for dinner?”.
You put down groceries. Kick the dog, cat and chicken out the door. Trip over school bag on the way back.
“Did you not see I came home at the same time as you. I haven’t started dinner”.
“So how long before dinner’s ready?”.
Do you reach for a wine or pizza takeout phone number? No. no no. You reach for the pasta sauce. Shock. Horror.
Do you know what? I love bottled pasta sauce. It’s one of the few premade foods I actually buy. In bulk.
You can get really good, clean options in most supermarkets. I live in a tiny town in New Zealand and they even stock it here. Read the ingredients on the bottle. I always think that if I would recreate it in my own kitchen, with real food ingredients, it’s good to go. You only want to see onion, garlic, tomato and herbs in the ingredient list. That’s it.
When you find one. Grab it. And then stock pile more into your trolley.
Because a good ready to go pasta sauce is a godsend to busy parents. If you have pasta sauce and wholemeal pasta in your pantry, then you’re already
80% No. 87% of the way to getting that meal on the table before chaos erupts.
Meatballs in tomato sauce are a childhood classic. Kids love ’em. Don’t know why, but household battles have been fought over that last meatball. There are more times than I care to admit that I have had to cut a meatball, a single not too big meatball, into 4 equal, yes that matters, pieces.
To give the meatballs their stick-togetherness, I use Quinoa instead of traditional flour or breadcrumbs. They are just as delicious on their own as a little snack or lunch box addition.
And the health benefits are amazing. White pasta, white rice, and white bread essentially provide us with simple carbohydrates that are quickly digested but provide little nutritional value. Not Quinoa, uh uh. Quinoa is a wonder food. Since we started eating Clean, it’s become a pantry staple. Its an easy substitute for rice, sometimes flour and pasta.
7 Health Benefits of Quinoa
- Quinoa is naturally gluten-free
- Quinoa contains iron, B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, vitamin E.
- It is one of only a few plant foods that are considered a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids.
- Quinoa is one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat.It was proposed by NASA to be an ideal food for long duration space flights. I mean NASA eats it. Astronauts and stuff.
- Quinoa contains a healthy dose of fatty acids.
- Quinoa is high in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, which means it can help with prevention and treatment of disease.
- Quinoa is also a grain that is very high in antioxidants, which are the things that neutralize free radicals and are also believed to help fight aging (:) :) ) and many diseases.
Seriously. Wonder food.
As I mentioned before. This is the Meatballs and tomato sauce cheats version. So you are not going to get any mind blowing, masterchef worthy cooking lessons here. There are basically three steps to this dish:
1. Make Meatballs. 8 1/2 min. Faster if you get one kid to help. Two kids will fight so slows it down to 18 1/2 min.
2. Pour pasta sauce on meatballs. 10 seconds if you pour really slowly.
3. Bake until ready. 15 minutes. And you can finally go and pee while it’s in the oven.
So it’s super easy. But I promise you this. It will not disappoint. The sticky, wholesome texture (that’s the quinoa kickin’ in) of these meatballs is simply amazing.
OK. Ready. Lets get right to the recipe. Which you should print and keep close by. Because Tuesday nights like this come more than once a week.
Cheats Beef and Quinoa Meatballs in tomato sauce
- 1 lb / 500g ground beef or chicken
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil / coconut oil
- 1 large bottle of pasta sauce
- Preheat oven to 400'F / 180'C.
- Heat up a pan on the stove. Add a little olive or coconut oil.
- Mix all ingredients (EXCEPT pasta sauce in a bowl),
- Make up little balls (about the size of a walnut or 1 inch wide). Makes about 18-20 meatballs.
- Cook in two batches for around 3 minutes, turning them over until lightly browned all over. They don't need to be cooked through.
- Place them in an oven proof dish and pour pasta sauce over the top.
- Put into the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
- Serve on top of wholemeal pasta or wholemeal cous cous.