These simple baked turkey meatballs with orange ginger glaze are loaded with fresh Asian-inspired flavors and make a super healthy dinner when eaten over a bed of cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles.
Bonus: They are gluten free and paleo friendly. Woot!
Friends, I have solved all your dinner and lunch dilemmas for the rest of the year.
Possibly breakfast, too. And I’m not just saying that because there’s only two weeks left in 2015 (although that is the alarming truth).
I’m saying it because these gluten-free baked turkey meatballs with orange ginger glaze are so good that you’ll want to eat them three times a day.
forever x infinity2
Just ask my husband, who has basically gone on a meatball diet ever since I made them.
And I can’t really argue with him, considering that these baked turkey meatballs with orange ginger glaze are hella healthy. I mean, of course they are—I wouldn’t share a recipe with you guys if I thought it was unhealthy.
I’m just saying that being married to a nutritionist means that my husband gets to “discuss” the finer point of what constitutes “healthy eating” more often than the average man (i.e. at least daily #sorryimnotsorry).
BUT when it comes to these meatballs, I didn’t fight him. In fact, I wholeheartedly support his decision to eat them at every meal. I mean clearly, I insist on there being a ginormous mound of vegetables, too, but as for the main star?
Meatballs for the win!
MEET YOUR NEW FAVORITE MEATBALL
Move aside meatballs and marinara—this healthier, lightened up version is not only free of gluten, wheat, and soy but also super versatile and bursting with Asian-inspired flavors like ginger, orange zest, and garlic.
Because by this time in the season, you may be getting sick of all the heavier comfort food and be looking for something a bit lighter (or at least light enough to make having a few holiday cookies for dessert less likely to impact your waistline).
Am I right?
Either way, I know you’ll love the bazillion different ways you can enjoy these crazy versatile meatballs.
For example, you could eat ‘em…
With cauliflower rice to boost your non-starchy vegetable intake
On top of a mound of fresh spinach and other greens
As an appetizer straight up
In a soup
Between a gluten free baguette for a Vietnamese Bahn Mi-inspired sandwich
Crumbled over zucchini noodles with steamed carrots and red onions
They are a great source of lean protein, healthy fats, and also freeze exceptionally well, which will likely make them your new go-to effortless weekday meal, party appetizer, or Game Day food.
MEATBALLS FOR EVERYONE
These meatballs contain no flour or wheat (i.e. no gluten) and are held together using a mixture of eggs and almond meal. They get an Asian spin from a splash of coconut aminos instead of soy sauce so if you avoid soy for health reason, you won’t need to worry about that either.
You could probably even get away with leaving the eggs out if you have an egg allergy, although I haven’t tested it that way myself.
Obviously the only person who won’t enjoy these would be someone who doesn’t eat meat, which I totally respect. After all, until just recently I was a longtime vegetarian. While I know it may seem like I endorsed eating meat at every meal earlier in this post, I hope you know I was (mostly) joking. I think that meatless meals are really important and cleansing for the body but above all else, it’s important to find a balance and what works for your body and makes you feel you’re best—inside and out!
As always, when selecting your meat, look for high quality butchers (ideally locally) that can guarantee you’re getting humanely raised meat without hormones or antibiotics. Otherwise, you may as well be taking the same medicines that the animal was given. I’m pretty sure you don’t want nor need a bunch of who-knows-what pharmaceutical drugs on your plate.
Yes, the meat will be substantially more expensive but as long as you’re not seriously eating meat at every meal—or as long as that only happens when you make this recipe—it’s worth the splurge.
Oh and if you don’t like turkey, simply use something you do enjoy like grass-fed ground beef or organic, free-range ground chicken.
I love using citrus zest, especially this time of year when the more unique varieties (blood, cara cara, clementine and satsuma oranges, as well as tangerines) are in season and adding a bit to the actual meatballs really elevates the entire flavor profile.
The orange ginger glaze is sweet but-not-too-sweet and contains no refined sugar, which also won’t surprise you since you know that’s how I roll.
Simple Baked Orange Glazed Turkey Meatballs
gluten free, dairy free, paleo, refined sugar free
Yield: 4-6 servings; 20 medium-sized (3-inch) meatballs | Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 30-40 minutes
1 lb all-natural lean ground turkey
1 lb all-natural ground turkey*
1/4 cup almond flour/meal**
2 free-range, organic eggs
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1-2 tbs orange zest (roughly zest from one orange)
2 tsp coconut aminos
1/2 tsp black pepper (or to taste)
1 tsp sea salt
2-3 tbs fresh chopped green onions (garnish)
sesame seeds (garnish)
sliced orange wedges (optional garnish)
For the Orange Ginger Glaze
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (I used cara cara orange—blood oranges or even regular O.J. would work, too)
1/2 cup filtered water
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
1 garlic clove, pressed
2 tbs rice wine vinegar
1 tbs coconut aminos (or tamari)
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
zest of one orange (about 1 tablespoon)
- Preheat oven to 350-degrees Fahrenheit and line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper.
- Whisk eggs, coconut aminos, orange zest and seasonings in a glass bowl, add almond flour/meal and turkey meat and use hands to combine. If this grosses you out (totally get it!), consider getting a box of food grade gloves to keep on hand for dealing with raw meat.
- Using hands or a small cookie dough scoop, form meatballs into 2-3 inch balls and evenly distribute on prepared baking pan.***
- Pop in the oven for 30-35 minutes until slightly browned on top. If you want them even more browned, consider turning on the broiler for 5 minutes at the end (I didn’t do this for these—just saying).
- While meatballs are baking, make the glaze.
For the Orange Ginger Glaze:
- Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and whisk to combine.
- Heat on medium high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until reduced by about one third to one half.
- As a party appetizer—you can simply arrange the meatballs on a serving plate and drizzle with orange ginger glaze (or even pour glaze into a small bowl for guests to use at their discretion). Garnish with fresh chopped green onions and sesame seeds.
- As a meal, 3-4 meatballs with lightly steamed broccoli over a bed of basic cauliflower rice or even zucchini noodles for a delicious paleo meal. You could also use regular white rice or even quinoa. Drizzle with glaze and add green onions and sesame seeds. If you want to make it spicy, add red chili pepper flakes.
*If you don’t like dark turkey meat, you could also use another pound of lean ground turkey but I think the fat in the regular turkey meat really adds a lot of flavor to the meatballs (and most of it will cook out on the pan anyway). Plus, fat is your friend! I promise!
**For baked goods, I always use Honeyville Almond Flour, but for savory dishes, any almond flour or almond meal will do just fine!
*** If you want to make smaller 1-2 inch balls for a larger party, that’s fine, too but keep in mind you’ll want to reduce the cooking time accordingly.
****Make ahead—freeze the fully cooked meatballs without the sauce for a quick and effortless weekday meal or holiday party appetizer. High five!
So whether you eat these meatballs within 24-48 hours after baking them or freeze them for later, I hope they will help make your next dinner emergency less of one.
In fact, much to my husband’s dismay I froze the rest of this batch so we have something quick and easy to eat when we get home from our trip to the East Coast for the holidays next week. We haven’t been home for Christmas since before my dietetic internship, which was two years ago, and this year we are super excited to meet our new 7-month-old nephew.
Wishing you all a stress-free, joyous week ahead and don’t forget to come back on Friday for the next Healthy Holiday Cookie recipe—here are the paleo gingersnaps and cranberry pistachio biscotti recipes if you missed them.
Did you make these meatballs? How did they turn out?! If you’d share them on social media with #honestlynourished you’ll be my new favorite. Seriously. Plus, you’ll have meatballs so you’re really the winner.
Annnnnd if anyone has a great vegetarian meatball recipe, I’m all always looking for good ones so share below!