Sunday, May 30, 2010

Skinny Swedish Meatballs

Our friend Rick is in a concert band that marches in a few summer parades. When he found out that I twirled flag and rifle an eon ago in high school he asked me to twirl in their flag unit. Practices start less than an hour after Husband gets home from work. If I want to avoid a fast food meal on the nights I have color guard practice, I need a quick meal for dinner, like 30 minutes or less kind of dinner. Semi-homemade is one way to go because we eat most of our leftovers for lunch.

Enter Farm Rich. I checked the Farm Rich website and found that their food is free from trans fats, hydrogenated oils, and high fructose corn syrup – things I don’t want in my food. Their meatballs are made from a combination of pork and beef, which made me think of Swedish Meatballs.

Every Scandinavian has their own version of how to make meatballs. Yes, even us Danes. My favorite meatball recipes are the Swedish ones that use both pork and beef (hold the veal thank you) in the meatballs and calorie laden heavy cream and butter.

Hm… I wonder if I can use the Farm Rich Meatballs and tweak a Swedish meatball recipe to make it a little less on the calories for a quick meal?

Lisa’s Skinny Swedish Meatballs

The picture isn't out of focus. That's steam raising from the meatballs.
Food photography is tough I tell you! (Seriously.)

Farm Rich Meatballs (or make your own from scratch) There are approximately 64 meatballs in a bag (when I finished it I used the empty plastic bag for doggie duty.) I was able to get two meals out of a bag.

Whole wheat pasta

1 cup of skim milk
½ cup of plain yogurt
2 Tablespoons margarine
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
¼-Teaspoon salt
¼-Teaspoon pepper
¼-Teaspoon ginger
¼-Teaspoon ground cloves
¼-Teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
Meatball juices (optional)

1. Prepare the meatballs per the cooking instructions on the bag. I choose to bake mine for 30 minutes because it gave the meatballs a nice crispy texture. 

2. Combine skim milk, yogurt, margarine, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, ginger, and cinnamon over medium heat.

3. Stir in the cornstarch to thicken the sauce.

4. When the meatballs are fully cooked through, stir in combine the meatballs and meatball juices into the sauce (as desired) and heat through.

5. Serve over a bed of whole wheat pasta

It was delicious! The Skinny Swedish Meatball recipe is worth keeping. What about the Farm Rich Meatballs?

Pros

1. Farm Rich does not contain transfats, hydrogenated oils, or high fructose corn syrup in the meatballs or in any other Farm Rich product for that matter. Yay!

2. Farm Rich Meatballs can be prepared in the slow cooker, stove top, microwave oven, or conventional oven. I preferred the oven because it made the meatballs a little crispy and I could easily drain the juices if I choose.

3. These meatballs are probably going to be a better choice if you live in a small town or rural area like my parents and in-laws. They don’t have ready access to fancy schmancy gourmet groceries or as many choices to grocery shop at as I do in a large city. That's why I choose to review some less than perfectly green products like this, so you have options if you need them. As always, your mileage may vary.

Cons

1. Farm Rich Meatballs are a prepared food and I know some of you don’t like that. Sometimes our activities leave us in a time crunch for dinner and semi homemade is a better option because we refuse to eat in shifts. Family dinners are important to us even when the family consists of two people.

2. The meatballs are a bit high on the sodium scale but hey, it is a prepared food and that is not uncommon with prepared food including the organic stuff. Since I try to watch the sodium, it is better for me to eat Farm Rich Meatballs on occasion.

I’m not sure how to call this one. If I were a staunch person (and I am about some things), I’d pan them immediately just for that fact that Farm Rich Meatballs  are a prepared food in a resalable plastic bag. I reused the plastic bag for doggie duty because I have to bag it so again, I'm OK with the plastic bag while some of you may have issue with it. However, my life isn’t always so black and white and because that would be boring and unrealistic.

Farm Rich Meatballs taste good. They are something that allows me to do a quick meal that doesn’t have transfats, hydrogenated oils, and high fructose corn syrup in the ingredients, which I am staunch about avoiding as much as possible. However, the sodium is high and while we don’t have heart or blood pressure issues, we try to follow a low sodium heart healthy diet so those problems won’t crop up early. You’re welcome insurance company.

Nevertheless, we do make allowances along the lines of The Conscious Shopper’s 80/20 Rule because since Husband and I are so healthy, we can eat less than perfect food on occasion. Am I using the 80/20 Rule as a trick arrow for my quiver or as a cop-out? I will leave it up to you. What do you think?