Lunchbox: Offal Meatballs (grain and dairy free)

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Packing school lunches can be a real challenge. The boys are in first grade and I have learned that the main lunch dish must be both appealing to the eye and also not a distraction for fellow lunch mates. By a distraction, I mean it must not be too green, smell too fishy or look like anything other than commonly recognized foods. If the food looks like it might attract too much attention or draw negative comments, the boys will not even open the container. GRRR! I get it though, being in first grade is tough! I definitely do not want to make it more difficult!

My solution to this issue, it’s not really a problem, is to sneak the nutrients into their food in an acceptable vessel. Sure, this takes more time, planning and effort. Read on to discover all of the benefits your rapidly developing little cherubs will receive from these nutrition powerhouses.

The meat in these meatballs is a special grind including offal and ground beef. Here is my system…I ask my local Whole Foods to grind a mix in the following ratio:

beef heart 6 pounds
beef kidney 4 pounds
beef liver 5 pounds
ground beef 5 pounds

Then they separate the meat into ten, two pound packs and I freeze it until I am ready to use it. It does not stay together as well as ground beef so I typically mix it with either ground pork, buffalo or venison. That binds the meatballs together better.


Offal refers to the edible parts of the animal other than the muscle meats. Organ meats are the most concentrated source of just about every nutrient, including vitamins and minerals. Always make sure you are sourcing the highest quality offal. Look for pastured, grass finished beef or pastured pork or chicken. On page 194 of her book, The Paleo Approach, Sarah Ballantyne details the benefits of offal:

LIVER

  • one of the most concentrated forms of vitamin A.
  • outstanding source of vitamin D, B12, copper, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and iron.

KIDNEYS

  • high in vitamin B12, selenium, iron, copper, phosphorus and zinc

HEART

  • concentrated source of a vitamin-like nutrient coenzyme Q10, a potent antioxidant
  • contains an abundance of vitamin A, B12, folate, iron, selenium, phosphorus and zinc
  • is the number one source of copper
  • twice as much collagen and elastin as muscle meats which means this is a good source of glycine.

Ok, are you convinced yet? Not only will your children’s brains thrive by being bathed in these nutrients their tissue development will benefit as well. Consider, heart being a concentrated source of glycine, an important amino acid for tissue repair, connective tissue health, joint health and digestive health.

Isn’t that fabulous? All of that nutrition in one little meatball!


Here is how I made them:

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds of offal grind (listed above)
1 pound of water buffalo (you could use bison, pork or more ground beef)
1 zucchini
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 red onion
1 carrot
2 stalks of celery
1 bulb of garlic
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/3 cup nutritional yeast

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Chop all of your veggies. Sauté them until soft in coconut oil.
  3. Combine the offal and buffalo in a large bowl. Add the sautéed veggies and mix well.
  4. Add the nutritional yeast, mix well again.
  5. Finally, add the chopped parsley and mix well. I use my hands.
  6. Form into 1 1/2 size balls and place on parchment lined baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Test for doneness.

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For school lunches, I heat the meatballs in a small saucepan along with a can of plain tomato sauce. I serve them in the boys thermos. They also had a side of steamed green beans, white sweet potato and cantaloupe. One batch gives me four days of lunches plus a couple for snacking.

I hope you enjoy!!

Ballantyne, Sarah (2013). The Paleo Approach. Las Vegas, NV: Victory Belt Publishing.

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