How To Make Healthy Albondigas

Tonight I made Albondigas for the family and after posting a video of the meal, I got several requests for the recipe. So first of all, albondigas are a traditional Mexican meal. It consists of a soup/stew and meatballs, yes meatballs can be eaten without marinara sauce!

This is actually a pretty healthy meal if you make a few adjustments to the original recipe. I love it that most of the homecooked meals I grew up on can be made in a healthy way!

So here goes…

There’s 3 parts to this meal, the soup, the veggies, and the meatballs.

Tonight I cooked some shell pasta, the picture above has fideo pasta, and it can also be made with white rice. The healthy alternative would be a whole grain like brown rice. Those of you who are braver can try quinoa and it should still taste great but I would stick to soup style grains. The first thing to do is fry the rice until golden brown, I use some olive or coconut oil (choose your amount based on your number of servings and meal plan portions). I grew up watching my mom pouring a half of cup of vegetable oil to brown the rice and i grew up thinking that it was necessary but it really isn’t, I have made rice with just a teaspoon. The trick is to watch the pan and keep stirring. During stirring, add chopped onions. This gives is a great flavor! I add a ton because I love them. I then add some chicken bouillon and tomato sauce ( you can make these yourself or buy healthier versions to avoid added sodium, sugar, fat, or other unwanted additives. A great bouillon substitute that’ll give you flavor and add protein is a creamy chicken soup snack from here) Some people like to add chipotle sauce, I personally cannot stand that flavor but it does give it more depth. Let the onions sweat and then add water!

You’ll add your veggies to this. The veggies are up to you, in the picture above I only used potato, celery, and carrots. Tonight I used tomato, potato, celery, green and yellow zucchini, carrots, and jalapenos. The tomato and celery are for flavor so I suggest adding those for sure. Potatoes are very starchy so you might not want them if they are not part of your meal plan or if you are avoiding empty carbs. I have used cauliflower in the past as a substitute but I only do that when I have added a ton of veggies that way my family doesn’t notice ;). Not all veggies would go with this meal and are not traditionally used like broccoli or peas. I have seen people post about adding corn but I haven’t tried it. Now my family hates onions and zucchini but cooking all these veggies give them such a good flavor that they don’t care, they just eat it! Big tip: add the potatoes first because they take the longest and once they are halfway soft add the rest. Season with salt, cumin, oregano, and cilantro. Make sure to add more salt if you’re using potatoes because they suck up all the salt and it will have noooo flavor at all. (A good salt to use if you need low sodium is Morton Lite Salt) Let these all cook together, make the meatballs while they are boiling because they’ll be added at the last ten minutes. I don’t give exact times because it depends on how much you are making, just keep checking for the consistency of the veggies and rice. You don’t want mush but you don’t want them hard. Don’t be afraid to taste as you go :).

The meatballs are the hardest part because you can’t taste them while raw but it’s important for them to have a good flavor. This are my amounts but if you know for a fact you like more or less of something by all means add it.

1 lb. of ground beef, 1 egg, 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of cumin, 1 tsp of oregano, 1 tbsp of cilantro, and a single clove of minced garlic.

Mix well (get your hands messy) and choose the size of your meatballs. Growing up my dad would restrict the amount we get because we would all try to grab as many as we could and leave behind all the veggies. I make them about an inch in diameter , my dad made them almost twice the size. The way I see it, the more the better, that way everyone feels like they got enough. If you are on a meal plan then keep track of how many you make in a pound. On my meal plan a serving of protein is about 6oz so if I make each meatball an ounce then I can have 6, etc. You’ll add them in with rest of the soup and let them cook on high for about 10 minutes. Check to make sure they are cooked all the way but you don’t want them to overcook because they will get tough. Add water as needed, its up to you how condensed you want it. For those of you who are avoiding red meat, you could make this with turkey or even chicken, heck even soy!

Add lime , chile arbol salsa, heat up a corn tortilla, and serve!

Let me know how you like it and if any of you are brave enough to make it with quinoa and tofu, share your results