Albondigas!

You know how on December 26th or so you start thinking that you never want to eat food or drink alcohol again, like ever?

I exercised a little more control than usual this year. It helped a lot that much of my family has adopted a paleo-ish style of eating. For example, for my sister’s college graduation dinner, which we also celebrated over the holidays, we had: lamb shanks braised in beef broth with fennel, carrots, and onions; julienned radishes cooked in butter; parsnip mash topped with the reduced braising juices and veggies; and kale with bacon, blackberry ginger balsamic vinegar, and pecans.

It was a delicious and special meal that still felt good to eat. But then we followed it with tiramisu and White Russians and, well, you get the idea.

On top of the holiday indulgences, I started getting infusions of a new treatment this week. I read that I should expect to feel very tired for a couple of days. I feel pretty good so far, but I already stocked the fridge with food for meals that Chris could prepare in case I couldn’t. First up was one of our all-time favorite meals, a super-flavorful, veggie-packed albondigas (meatball) soup.

This soup is very adaptable to different dietary restrictions. For example, if nightshades are a problem for you, simply omit the tomatoes. You can also substitute plain ground meat for the chorizo, if chorizo is too spicy or if you can’t find one with acceptable ingredients, or switch out the summer squash for a winter squash or sweet potatoes. We’ve made this soup dozens of times–usually without a recipe and with whatever we have on hand. But the recipe I’m sharing here is our fave.

Chris did the cooking, but I prepped for him. I got out all the pantry ingredients…

ingredients

And chopped up all the veggies. In the back left, I have the sliced squash. In the ugly orange bowl, I prepared all the veggies that will go into the meatballs. In the front left, you can see the mirepoix that will be cooked first. And in the last bowl, cilantro. You can do this ahead of time, too, to make dinner a breeze.

prepped

Here is the final product. Buen provecho!

yum

closeup

Albondigas Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground meat (I used white meat turkey, but any ground meat will do)
  • 1 pound bulk chorizo (beef or pork is fine; just read the list of ingredients to make sure it is legal)
  • 26-28 ounces strained tomatoes (I use the Pomi cartons because they are BPA-free)
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and divided
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and divided
  • 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 summer squash, halved and sliced
  • 8 cups chicken or turkey broth (homemade is best, but this is a great substitute)
  • 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped and divided
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 limes
  • Coconut oil
  • Cumin
  • Oregano
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Hot sauce, optional

Albondigas Method

  • Thinly slice 2 and 1/2 of the carrots and 2/3 of the onion. Set the rest of the carrot and onion aside for the meatballs.
  • Heat 1 spoonful coconut oil over medium-high heat in a heavy stockpot. Add carrots, celery, and onion and saute for 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle generously with cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper, and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  • Add broth and tomatoes to stockpot and bring to a boil.
  • Meanwhile, make meatballs. Grate the leftover carrot and onion and combine in a bowl with half the finely chopped cilantro. Mix the vegetables with the ground meat and chorizo. Season lightly with salt and pepper (go very easy if you are using chorizo, since it is already seasoned). Roll into small meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter.
  • When the broth boils, carefully drop in the meatballs and gently stir so they don’t stick together.
  • Turn down the heat so it’s just barely boiling. Then let simmer for 20 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked.
  • Add sliced squash to the soup and cook about 8 more minutes, until the squash are soft. Taste and adjust seasoning of broth.
  • Serve in bowls topped with lime juice, diced avocado, fresh cilantro, and hot sauce to taste.
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Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Orange Ginger Butternut Squash Puree

Last week I learned that you can spiralize butternut squash. I mean. This changes my life. Here is a video on that, completely unrelated to the rest of my post:

You can see that you end up with a lot of leftover squash that you can’t spiralize. So, I had the butts of two large butternut squash and some leftover cores that I needed to use. I’m a little tired of just plain old roasted veggies right now, so I decided to step it up a notch by making a puree. It was inspired by this recipe, which I’m sure is delicious as is, but I tweaked it so it would pair better with the pork tenderloin and marinade I planned to serve with it. The pork, by the way, is a variation on this recipe, which is probably my favorite pork tenderloin recipe of all time.

Let’s take a second to look at some of the nutritional highlights of this meal. Pork tenderloin has a similar nutrition profile to skinless chicken breast, which means it is a very lean source of quality protein. It also happens to be relatively inexpensive (I paid a little over $7.00 for a tenderloin that feeds my husband and I two meals each) and very easy to prepare. Butternut squash is also very healthy; it is a great source of vitamins A, C, and B6, and it is also high in potassium and folate, along with other vitamins and minerals. It also contains a lot of the antioxidant beta carotene and has anti-inflammatory and insulin regulating properties as well. This makes it a great grain-free and potato-free source of carbohydrates. Combine all that with a healthy dose of fresh ginger, which is famous for its soothing and anti-inflammatory effects on the GI tract, along with fresh orange zest and juice, and you can see that this meal is as healthy as it is delicious.

Did I mention that this is also a perfect fall dinner? Last night marked a very important seasonal shift in the lives of desert dwellers: the First Open Window Night. My husband and I took our greyhound on a walk around 8:00 last night and I almost wished I had a sweater. So when we got home we opened all the windows, made a cup of cinnamon spice tea, and luxuriated in the first delicious hint of fall in the air. It was a happy coincidence that we had also eaten a fragrant fall classic for dinner. When we were finishing, Chris looked at me and did his best Gordon Ramsay impression, “What a shame. I wish there was a little more.” I have a feeling there will be plenty more of this meal in the future.

Here are all your marinade ingredients, and what it looks like when you are marinading your pork tenderloin.p1000861p1000862

You can see here the butternut squash going into the oven and coming out, when they are glistening and soft and just beginning to brown.

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And here is the final product:p1000868 p1000867

Marinated Pork Tenderloin Ingredients

  • 1 Pork Tenderloin (whatever size works for the crowd you need to feed)
  • 1/2 cup coconut aminos
  • 1/2 cup marsala cooking wine (or any dry red wine plus an extra tablespoon of honey to be completely SCD compliant)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 an orange
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced sweet onion or shallot
  • 1 tablespoon dried herbes de provence (no salt added)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

Orange Ginger Butternut Squash Puree Ingredients

  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • zest of 1 orange
  • juice of 1/2 an orange
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • dash of cinnamon
  • salt to taste

Marinated Pork Tenderloin Method

  • Combine all marinade ingredients.*
  • Place the tenderloin in a small casserole dish or large bowl, and add just enough marinade to cover it half way. Marinate 1-2 hours, turning over halfway through.
  • Meanwhile, place reserved marinade in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes, then reduce heat and let simmer until significantly reduced, about 1 hour.
  • Grill pork tenderloin over medium-high heat for 20-30 minutes, until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part reads at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Let rest at least 3 minutes to continue cooking; then, slice into medallions. Top with a generous spoonful of reduced marinade to serve.

Orange Ginger Butternut Squash Puree Method

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Toss cubed squash with olive oil and a generous dash of salt. Spread out in a thin layer on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet.
  • Roast about 40 minutes, depending on size of cube, until the squash is very soft and just starting to brown in some places.
  • Place squash in food processor along with all other remaining ingredients. Process until very smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

*Note: This marinade is the bomb.com so I purposefully make extra to use later on in the week. It is great on grilled seafood, pork, and chicken. You can even use it as a quick stir fry sauce. Tonight we’ll be using the leftovers to jazz up chicken, pepper, onion, and pineapple kabobs. But, if you don’t foresee another use for it, you can always halve the recipe to prevent waste.