How you start your day sets up your health and nutritional momentum until you go to sleep again. Most commonly, people confess that their main fallback in their diet is excessive snacking after dinner. What is one, easy fix for feeling like a bottomless pit at 9pm? Eat more at 9am! (Not literally 9am…you get it).
When we address issues with nutritional intake, the most successful and unexpectedly easy solution is to INCLUDE more “good” things rather than only focusing on excluding “bad” things. This recipe for Breakfast Meatballs is the perfect start to your day, especially if you follow breakfast with a more sedentary job or inactive lifestyle. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, most of our carbohydrates should be consumed around our workout time (just before exercise to use for energy and shortly after to promote recovery). These Meatballs are low-carb so that you can eat more carbs later in the day to power your workout! If you are a morning workout fiend, pair these meatballs with a piece of toast, some fruit or oatmeal.
My Breakfast Meatballs will also help you INCLUDE more vegetables to your diet (something I am a huge proponent of) and INCLUDE more bulk to your breakfast. My rule is to eat vegetables with every meal; It helps us eat other foods in moderation because they are filling yet don’t contribute many carbs/calories and they are full of fantastic *micronutrients* including antioxidants and vitamins which help our bodies really function at its best. It’s definitely most challenging to get vegetables in at breakfast but this is one delicious and easy way to sneak them in without even knowing they’re there! Also by consuming more calories earlier in the day, you feel more energetic throughout the morning, helping you be more productive. At the end of the day, since you’re not at a severe caloric deficit from not eating enough from the very start of the day, you have less urge to binge at night! It may seem counter intuitive to “eat more to eat less”, but if you’re able to make yourself feel more full and satisfied with something healthy (like these Breakfast Meatballs…or make them Lunch Meatballs, or Snack Meatballs, do you!) that will add in an additional, say, 300 calories during the day, it will then help you not eat an excess 600 calories in unhealthy nighttime snacks resulting in overall less calories for the day! (Which is required for weight-loss or weight-maintenance)
This recipe makes 8 Meatballs with 15g protein/7g carbs/5g fat per Meatball (each one is made to be about 115g). Another reason these make the perfect breakfast is it’s balance of macronutrients! Protein should be eaten pretty regularly throughout the day in order to keep this “protein pool” that we have in our body constantly filled so that we can pull from that to build and repair rather than break down other muscle proteins. While we sleep, our bodies perform tons of essential repairs and use up much of our “protein pool” so it’s important to start your morning by refilling it.
The carbohydrates in this recipe come from sweet potatoes, zucchini, carrots, and oats, which are all lower on the Glycemic Index. That means these foods are digested, absorbed, and metabolized more slowly which results in a slower rise in blood sugar (as compared to pure glucose, the most simple form of sugar). As I discussed in last week’s Recipe post (Recipe: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bake) avoiding a blood sugar spike, especially in the morning, is vital to avoiding a mid-morning crash as well as preventing additional fat storage.
Having only 5g of fat each, coming from the eggs and turkey, it leaves a greater allowance for fats throughout the rest of your day. Treat-type foods are usually high fat, so you can still fit in a favorite treat of yours – which helps you maintain your sanity and your healthy lifestyle by promoting balance for longevity. For weight-loss, limiting fat intake is important because it reduces overall calories at a greater rate than the other macronutrients (protein and carbs) (see The why… for more details). Fats from healthy sources (nuts, avocados, fish, eggs) should still be consumed in moderation as part of your balanced diet throughout the rest of your day (especially away from workout times)!
I had these for breakfast all last week and having them already prepared was so helpful for my morning! My typical, go-to breakfast is 2 pieces of Dave’s Killer Bread (highly recommend) covered in mashed avocado and topped with 2 egg whites and 2 eggs. It’s not a long process to cook it up, but having an extra 15 minutes to sleep, especially during Open season, has helped me get a little extra recovery time each day! Also, keeping it lower carb in the morning, I was able to add in some additional carbs to my pre-workout snack which really helped me feel great during my training sessions and 17.1!! I’ll be doing it again this week for sure! (Check out my post on Eating for the Crossfit Open & Nutrition Strategies for 17.1 each week for how else to eat throughout the Open).
Breakfast Meatballs: Turkey & Veggie
16oz Ground Turkey
1/2c / 50g Shredded Zucchini
3/4c / 150g Shredded Sweet Potatoes
1/4c / 50g Shredded Carrots
3 small white mushrooms, finely chopped
1/2c Oats (blended into oat flour)
Salt, Pepper, Parsley to liking
Preheat oven to 375
In a bowl, add the Ground Turkey and Eggs
Take a cheese grater to the Zucchini, Sweet Potatoes, and Carrots right over the bowl and add in the chopped mushrooms (you can also add any other vegetable you like too! Thinly slice some greens, rice cauliflower or broccoli, shred cabbage…)
Blend the Oats (I used a mini magic-bullet type blender) into Oat Flour and add to bowl (if you don’t have the tools to blend into flour, you can add the oats whole but may also need an additional 1/4c to hold things together, or another egg)
Add in your preferred spices (I only used salt, pepper, and some parsley because I like my breakfast food flavors more mild so I’m not burping Italian spices all morning…but that’s up to you!)
Bake for about 40 minutes, I flipped mine twice for even cooking and browning, and knew they were done when they were baked all golden!
I reheated the toaster oven each morning and topped with some organic ketchup, ate with some eggs, or alongside my Oatmeal Bake. They would also be good with a tbsp of mayo (real/homemade, preferably) or sirracha if you like it hot!
I added 1.5cups of black beans and some cilantro and then pressed the meatballs into turkey-veggie burgers on round 2 of making these. They made for a yummy higher carb & protein lunch full of vegetables. I ate them on toast or on romaine lettuce with hummus and pickles!