A Healthy Transformation

A blog about diet, exercise, and health

A Day in the Life of Nessie, Part 3 June 22, 2010

Filed under: Diet,Recipes — fitnessie @ 7:19 pm

I’m a little behind in this series because I didn’t have any photos of one of the dinners I wanted to write about. Last night I finally slaved away in the kitchen so I could photograph and present my favorite weekday dinner to you!

Weekday Dinner:  Turkey Meatballs, Veggies, and Marinara Sauce

This dinner is super easy and especially great when I’m feeling nostalgic for my Mom’s home cooking.  She used to make this with ziti or bowtie pasta  for me all the time, and now I can make my own healthy twist of one of my favorite home cooked meals!  It still doesn’t taste as good as when my Mom makes it, but I’ve never figured out quite why.  When I cook this, I only use one cookie tray and one wok, making clean up a breeze!  I also make enough to eat it for dinner the whole week so I don’t have to worry about cooking every night after work.


Baked Turkey Meatballs

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground lean turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 3 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
  • garlic salt
  • assorted spices (I use oregano, parsley, and basil)
  • 1 TBSP olive oil

These little meatballs are easy to make and are a lot healthier than their pan friend alternatives.  Preheat your oven to 375.  Mix all the ingredients together except the olive oil in a bowl and stir them together with a fork until everything is pretty evenly distributed.  Then, using your fingers (my least favorite part of the process), roll meatballs that are about an inch in diameter and plop them on a nonstick cookie sheet.  I sprayed the pan with olive oil cooking spray before I put them down.  Then, after they’re all lined up, I brushed them with the olive oil to help out the browning, since I like my meatballs to have a crispy outer-shell.  Pop them in the oven for 35-45 minutes, and while you’re waiting, get started on the veggies!

Steamed Vegetables in Red Sauce


  • Zucchini (~4 medium sized)
  • Mushrooms (1 bag of pre-sliced & washed criminis)
  • Broccoli (1 head or 1 bag of pre-cut and pre-washed)
  • 1/2 head of garlic (chopped)
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 can tomato puree or sauce
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese

This ends up timing out pretty perfectly with your meatballs so the whole meal only takes about 1 hour to cook.  Take a large wok that you hopefully have a lid heat it on medium on the stove top.  I always prefer getting everything pre-washed and pre-cut, especially mushrooms, which tend to have more dirt on them than I care to contemplate.  I dump the broccoli in the wok with a bit of water, put on the lid, and let it steam while I slice the zucchini.  When it’s done, I dump it into a colander I leave in the sink, let it cool off in there, and throw in the zucchini and a little water.  When that’s done, I pour that into colander with the broccoli, add the mushrooms to the wok, repeat.  Most of these veggies will change color when they’re finished cooking (broccoli turns bright green, mushrooms turn a darker brown, and zucchini becomes translucent), and while you can let them steam and watch your favorite episode of The Real Housewives, try not to overcook the veggies.  It’ll make for mushy leftovers!

Let the veggies chill out in the colander and sautee the garlic in a bit of olive oil in the wok.  Once it starts to brown add the tomato sauce & paste and stir on medium heat.  If it starts to bubble, turn down the heat, and then add spices, salt, milk, and cheese.  Let it simmer and thicken up for a little bit and then add the veggies.  Stir it all up, put it on low heat and throw the lid on, and relax until the meatball timer dings.  When it does, plop the meatballs in the sauce, and then let it sit on low heat for as long as you like.  The longer it sits, the more the sauce will soak into everything and make it even more delicious.  I actually prefer leftovers because everything is marinated with delicious homemade sauce!

Now just put some in a bowl, top with some grated Romano cheese, and enjoy.  When you’re done, throw the leftovers in a Tupperware container and you’ve got dinner for the week!

Weekend Dinner:  The 5 Ingredient Challenge

This wonderful idea was stolen from my good friend Steff, whose healthy living blog you should definitely check out!  Every Friday night, Ian or I go to the grocery store and buy 5 edible items.  It can be any five items you want!  The following day, the person who didn’t buy the items is expected to make a meal of said items.  It has to involve at least two courses, and it can use any other additional ingredients you want.

I absolutely LOVE doing this.  Ian and I both are learning a lot about cooking, especially new items out of our comfort zone.  It’s also a cheap way to make me feel better about not having the money to go out to eat every week.  I don’t miss it at all when I have the challenges to look forward to!  It adds a versatility to my very routine meal plans, allows us to oooh and aaaah over each other’s culinary undertakings, and usually is quite delicious!

Here are the five ingredient challenges we’ve done so far.  You’ll notice how much better the dinners get as it goes along.

Challenge #1

I bought:

  1. Scallops
  2. Pineapple
  3. Pine nuts
  4. Parsnips
  5. Chickpeas

He made:

Hummus and pine nuts with carrots for dipping as an appetizer, and grilled scallops and pineapple with a side of mashed parsnips for the main course.

Challenge #2*

He bought:

  1. Carrots
  2. Pork tenderloin
  3. Cinnamon
  4. Green beans
  5. Shallots

I made:

Cinnamon carrot bread for an appetizer and a herb crusted pork tenderloin with a white wine and shallot sauce with garlicy “breaded” green beans for the main course.

*For a more detailed description of this challenge, including recipes, go here.

Challenge #3

I bought:

  1. Pork cutlets
  2. Sweet potatoes
  3. Avocado
  4. Leeks
  5. Almond meal

He made:

Leek and avocado soup as an appetizer and herb crusted pork cutlets with a side of sweet potato fries for the main course.

Challenge #4

He bought:

  1. Tomatoes
  2. Arugula
  3. Tilapia
  4. Shaved parmesean cheese
  5. Greek olives

I made:

Tomato bisque soup as an appetizer and an arugula and walnut pesto crusted tilapia with an argula salad (tomato, greek olives, shaved parmesean and homemade greek vinegrette dressing) as a side.

Challenge #5

I bought:

  1. Raspberries
  2. Ahi tuna
  3. Eggplant
  4. Mozzerella
  5. Basil

He made:

Avacado and tuna tartar with corn tortilla chips for dipping and an eggplant and mozzerella fritata as the main course, and “raspeberry fool” (basically raspberries, sugar, and lots and lots of cream) for a very decadent dessert.

Thus concludes “A Day in the Life of Nessie”!  Honestly, it really turned out to be a week in the life of Nessie, but who’s counting?  If you have any recipe requests for the 5  ingredient challenges, 5 ingredient attempts of your own, or any questions/feedback in general, feel free to comment away!


One Response to “A Day in the Life of Nessie, Part 3”

  1. Katy Says:

    What the hell, Vanessa! I showed this to Mike and we both just looked at each other like “yeah right!” Haha 🙂

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