Beef, Quinoa and Feta Meatballs – Ground Round Goodness

Beefy Quinoa Meatballs

On top of spaghetti or even nestled in a lettuce wrap, meatballs are a mainstay in my weeknight dinner rotation – the kids love them and so do I!  In fact, there is usually a stampede to kitchen to see who can get served first! These spherical mounds of ground meat goodness can be made from just about anything, but I like to use ground beef – preferably a 90/10 ground sirloin to keep them a bit leaner yet still offer loads of satisfying flavor.

Beef Quinoa Meatballs

I’m expecting a stampede to the dinner table with this beef meatball recipe!

Today, I have a deliciously nutritious recipe for you — Beefy Quinoa Feta Meatballs in Lettuce Wraps. Yup, that’s right – instead of bread crumbs or another filler, I’ve added quinoa to act as the binder in these yummy meatballs – this little swaperoo makes them ideal for folks following gluten-free, Paleo or low carb diets.  Quinoa, an edible seed that is a good source of nutrients including fiber, iron, magnesium, folate and heart-healthy omega 3s, is also considered a complete protein in itself with all the requisite amino acids. What a dynamic duo – a double punch of protein thanks to beef and quinoa, both superfoods!

Beef Quinoa Feta Meatballs

Not only to you kick up the protein with this beef quinoa meatball recipe, it also helps to stretch your food budget – adding the cup of cooked quinoa to ground beef lets you roll up a few more meatballs for hardly any more money (meaning, you can buy that better sirloin grind). And, in my family, more meatballs more happy boys and less arguing over who gets second servings.

Beef Quinoa Meatball Lettuce Wraps

You could serve these Beefy Quinoa Feta Meatballs  over the pasta of your choice or even a sub sandwich. I personally love them wrapped up in “bowls” of Bibb lettuce and drizzled with a tangy Greek yogurt dressing like a tzatzikis sauce – for convenience try OPA by Litehouse™ Feta Dill for the perfect lower-cal pairing.

Lil Critters Beef Meatball Bento BoxAlso, a fun kid-friendly idea for quickly-approaching October lunchbox duty — ‘Lil Critters Beef Meatball Bento Box. I made this happy monster meal in a post on ways to beef up a bag lunch for BeefLovingTexans.com — please visit to see the other ideas!

How would you serve these meatballs? Have you ever used quinoa for anything other than a side dish? Please share in the comments below — XOXO, Jennifer

 

 

 

 

Beef Quinoa Feta Meatballs
Beef Quinoa Feta Meatballs
Print Recipe
Create a hearty meal that will please the whole family. These meatballs are packed with wholesome, nutritious ingredients like lean ground beef and quinoa and can be served over pasta or in lettuce leaves.
Servings Prep Time
6 servings (24 mini meatballs) 10 minutes
Cook Time
18 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 servings (24 mini meatballs) 10 minutes
Cook Time
18 minutes
Beef Quinoa Feta Meatballs
Beef Quinoa Feta Meatballs
Print Recipe
Create a hearty meal that will please the whole family. These meatballs are packed with wholesome, nutritious ingredients like lean ground beef and quinoa and can be served over pasta or in lettuce leaves.
Servings Prep Time
6 servings (24 mini meatballs) 10 minutes
Cook Time
18 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 servings (24 mini meatballs) 10 minutes
Cook Time
18 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings (24 mini meatballs)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together cooked quinoa, ground beef, cheese, parseley, salt and peppers until well combined. Using hands or a melon-baller, shape into 24 balls and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Roast in oven until cooked through and golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes (internal temperature should reach 165 F degrees).
  4. Serve as desired -- in lettuce leaves, with pasta or in a sandwich are some ideas to get you started!
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Orange Miso Steak Lettuce Wraps + 6 More Protein Salads

Adding grilled strip steak to my Orange Miso Lettuce Wraps ups the protein to 25 grams -- perfect for the #proteinchallenge!

I love LOVE salads, many of you know that – I post my salad photos ( #saladselfie #saladrevolution #saladintheATX)  nearly every day on Instagram @thefitfork.  Often the mounds of lettuce I get at casual restaurants or take-away are pretty skimpy on the protein – this makes me hungry within the hour, no matter how BIG the salad was – that’s one of the reasons I prefer making my salad at home. Protein is so important for people living a fit and active lifestyle – adequate quality protein promotes heart health, helps muscles recover and grow and gives a long-lasting feeling of fullness that prevents unhealthy snacking later in the day. I got a chance to talk about this and the 30 Day Protein Challenge on Good Day San Antonio on 4th of July Morning!

Sharing ways to get more protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner on KENS5 Great Day San Antonio.

Sharing ways to get more protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner on KENS5 Great Day San Antonio.

There are lots of ways to boost the protein in salads, everyone should be aiming to get 25 – 30 grams of protein per meal adding beans (edamame, garbanzo, and black beans are some of my favorites) and adding a modest amount of nuts with heart-healthy oils like (almonds, walnuts and pistachios are so good) are two ways to reach optimal protein intake – I also love these Snack Crisps from Eat Enlightened. They are baked crunchy from broad (fava) beans and come in a bunch of yummy flavors like Sriracha, Garlic and Barbeque! For only 100 calories, I get an extra 7 grams of protein and lots of satisfying crush – whoohoo, they work as paleo croutons!

Lean beef ups the protein in this healthy, asian-inpsired salad.

Of course, the most direct way to pump up the protein in a salad is by adding lean red meat; chicken, turkey or other poultry; or fish, shrimp  or type of seafood. Today, I’m sharing my recipe for Orange Miso Beef Lettuce Wraps along with a collection of other beef salad ideas I curated in a collection for Mode Stories.

Check out Beef Up a Light Lunch – Seven Steak Inspired Salads

by The Fit Fork at Mode

Eat Nakd Bars - thefitfork.comAlso, I wanted to share with you a yummy snack I’ve been enjoying lately –  Eat Nākd from Natural Balance Foods . Eat Nākd bars are basically fruits and nuts “smooshed” together in a nutritious, healthy bar for convenience  Eat Nākd Protein Crunch bars are just as delicious and are have a bit of plant-based protein added for sustained energy. Individually wrapped for convenience and available in a ton of tempting flavors (hello chocolate mint), these bars are the perfect way to get some quick energy before a workout or when you need a little pick-me-up to nosh on at the office. They are also vegetarian and Paleo diet friendly; gluten, wheat and dairy free; and have no added sugars or hidden extras. These bars are made in Britain and you can order online with quick delivery – this product totally worth checking out!

protein challenge badge

Click photo to sign up!

Join the 30 Day Protein Challenge — you’ll learn how to get enough protein in your diet. Or, you’ll discover why you should rearrange the protein you’re already eating — did you know most Americans eat 2/3s of their daily requirement at dinner? It needs to be evenly portioned out through the day! The #ProteinChallenge also gives you access to delicious recipes and support with nutrition tips and a hunger scale to help you optimize your health!

What is your favorite or most unusual way to add protein to a salad? Please share in the comments below — XOXO, Jennifer

 

This post is sponsored in part my Mode Media. 

Adding grilled strip steak to my Orange Miso Lettuce Wraps ups the protein to 25 grams -- perfect for the #proteinchallenge!
Miso Orange Steak Lettuce Wraps
Print Recipe
This healthy, Asian inspired salad can be grabbed and wrapped up to-go -- or eat like a traditional salad! Beef and edamame beans pump up the protein so you'll be satisfied through to the next meal!
Adding grilled strip steak to my Orange Miso Lettuce Wraps ups the protein to 25 grams -- perfect for the #proteinchallenge!
Miso Orange Steak Lettuce Wraps
Print Recipe
This healthy, Asian inspired salad can be grabbed and wrapped up to-go -- or eat like a traditional salad! Beef and edamame beans pump up the protein so you'll be satisfied through to the next meal!
Instructions
  1. Combine Rub ingredients; smear evenly onto beef steaks.
  2. Place steaks on grid over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 11 to 14 minutes (over medium heat on preheated gas grill 11 to 15 minutes) for medium rare (145°F) to medium (160°F) doneness, turning occasionally.
  3. Carve steaks into slices. Place lettuce leaves on serving platter. Evenly layer vegetables onto lettuce leaves. Top evenly with steak. Drizzle with vinaigrette; sprinkle with nuts.
  4. Tip: To pan-broil steaks, preheat large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Place steaks in skillet; cook steaks 12 to 15 minutes for medium rare (145°F) to medium (160°F) doneness, turning occasionally.
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Busy Day Fuel – Southwestern Tuna Quinoa Salad Two Ways!

5:15 am –  alarm clock, grab breakfast, run, shower, see three kids off to school, check emails, make work phone calls, start laundry, research and writing for client, leave for errands, hit the gym, eat lunch, grocery store, pick up kids from school, check mail, return emails, make more phone calls, go over kids homework, pick up clutter, make recipes, style photos, take blog photographs, chauffeur to sports practice and boy scouts, make dinner, pick up from band practice, finish laundry, pack next day’s lunches, go over family’s schedule, check emails, social media, talk to husband, play with dog, make a snack, sleep  – 11 pm (hopefully).  

alternative fish tacosOkay, so you can see I don’t usually have a lot of time for long, leisurely meals.  Normally, I am scarfing down breakfast, lunch and dinner quickly while standing up at the kitchen island or on the go. While my kids always get a nutritious, sit-down dinner before their nightly activities, my plate of food often gets pushed down the priority list while I wash the dishes, talk to them about their days and tackle the remainder of my  frenzied, gotta-get-out-the-door checklist.  Oh, if I had a dollar for every artistically-plated meal I’ve dumped into a Tupperware container to eat it in the car  . . . I’d have enough money to get the deluxe car detailing package that would remove crumbs from the nooks and crannies!

Maybe the whirlwind of life is why I love salads so much – by design, everything is meant to be jumbled up together – it’s not always pretty, but it’s productive!  Salads can be made ahead of time without worry of reheating and will wait patiently in the fridge until called into service. A big hearty salad with all the fixings is also the standard fare for my late-working, non-cooking husband.  To keep the love alive with my salads, I mix up the combination of dressings, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and extras like cheeses, nuts, grains and more – there a gazillion variations and I never get bored (this seems like an analogy for my life).

quinoa tuna saladAn easy and tasty protein that often tops my salads is tuna. I always keep a stockpile of  Bumble Bee® Tuna in the pantry and it has saved me from the “hangries” on many occasions with no-cook, no clean-up, super nutritious convenience.  I’m a fan of the single-serve, 2.5 ounce pouches of the Bumble Bee® Premium Albacore Tuna and Light Tuna because they don’t require a can opener or messy draining, making them oh-so workable in a lunch box.  But, if you’re used to the traditional cans, don’t worry, Bumble Bee® still makes those!

If you need a quick and easy dinner idea, check out my Fiesta Tuna Quinoa Salad Recipe  —  it can be served two ways! First way is to serve in a bowl as pictured above and get your protein fix with a spoon – did you know that 2.5 ounces of the Bumble Bee® Premium Albacore Tuna has 17 grams of protein and the quinoa adds even more to the mix! Red quinoa and tuna make a snappy pair and all the healthy veggies and southwestern citrus dressing will make you want to jump up, stomp your boots and shout “Ole!”  Don’t be scared that there are a lot of ingredients, it’s super easy to put together — chop, chop!

The second way to serve this healthy salad is to fill romaine lettuce leaves with this tasty tuna quinoa salad and eat them wrap-style. If you’re looking for more lunch box ideas, easy dinner recipes or other healthy meal inspiration, check out the Bumble Bee® collection of custom tuna recipessouthwestern fish lettuce tacos

Fiesta Tuna Quinoa Salad Recipe

  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground chile pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup olive oil (divided)
  • 1 ½ cups red quinoa, rinsed
  •  15 ½ -oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup quartered grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • ½ cup diced red bell pepper
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon diced fresh jalapeno
  • ¼ cup sliced green onions (bulb and tops)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus sprigs for garnish
  • 1 large avocado, cubed
  • 2 (5-oz) pouches Bumble Bee Albacore Tuna or Light Tuna (or four 2.5-oz pouches)
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (depending on heat preference)
  • Extras (optional): lime wedges, cilantro sprigs and romaine lettuce leaves
  1. Combine 1 tsp. salt, the cumin, coriander, and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  2. In a 3-quart saucepan, heat 1 Tbs. of the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the salt, cumin, chile powder and cinnamon; stir well and saute for 30 seconds to make flavors bloom.
  3. Add quinoa to spices, stir again for about 30 seconds. Add 2 cups water and bring mixture to a boil; reduce to a low simmer, cover, and cook until the quinoa for about 20 to 22 minutes or until water is absorbed.
  4. Remove pot from heat and place clean dish cloth between lit and pot; let sit for about 4 to 5 minutes. This will help absorb remaining moisture and keep quinoa from getting sticky. Let quinoa cool to room temperature.
  5. While quinoa is cooling, combine the black beans, tomatoes, corn, peppers, jalapeno, green onions, and chopped cilantro in medium bowl. Add citrus juices, remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic, honey and Sriracha sauce. Stir until coated. Mix in cooled quinoa, tuna and avocado; stir gently until combined.
  6. To serve, place in bowls or lettuce leaves and garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs and lime wedges. Note: this dish is excellent made the day before as flavors have more time to mingle together.
  7. Serves 4.

Do you have any favorite tuna recipes?  Please share a description or link in the comments!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Turn Over a New Leaf! Asian Turkey & Cashew Lettuce Wraps (Recipe)

jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com - turkey cashew lettuce wrapsInspired by last week’s yummy Asian Lettuce Wrap dinner kit from Greeling.com, I did a redo with store-bought ingredients and my own interpretation of the recipe. I have to admit, I had become a bit pampered with pre-prepped fresh food just waiting to be whipped up into a healthy recipe; it was a total bummer to mince my own garlic and chop my own onions. Note to self; on busy weeknights, always make sure that my box of organic, locally-sourced produce and kitchen kits are scheduled to arrive in time to meet my cravings!

I know Asian Lettuce Wraps have been on the low-carb scene for a while. Hello, have you been to P.F. Changs in the last decade? But there is a good reason why this higher-protein meal has been hanging around so long at my house too. It’s quick to make, filling, fresh and . . . . drumroll . . . even my kids will eat it! My Asian Turkey & Cashew Lettuce Wrap is a crowd-pleaser, but don’t be tied down to a single recipe. Say buh-bye to buns and bread; you can wrap almost anything in lettuce — a scrambled egg with salsa, tomatoes and tuna salad, or sliced beef skirt steak and guacamole.

Asian Turkey & Cashew Lettuce Wrap Recipe

  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground turkey breast
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • ½ cup chopped green onions (bulbs & tops)
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (more or less to taste
  • 24 large Boston or butter lettuce leaves, rinsed and dried

Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Toast cashews until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Remove cashews from pan, set aside.

Heat up olive oil in the same skillet. Add garlic and sauté for 1 – 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add in ground turkey breast and stir constantly, crumbling up, until cooked through, approximately 8 minutes. Stir in red onions and sauté for 2 -3 minutes or until softened, but not soggy.  Add in carrots and green onions, and sauté for an additional 1 minute, until heated through

Add chicken broth, hoisin sauce, teriyaki sauce, and Sriracha sauce to skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, for another 2 minutes until mixture heated and sauce cooked down a bit.

Nestle two lettuce leaves together and spoon in mound of turkey mixture. Sprinkle with cashews. Repeat for remaining ingredients.

Serves 4 (3 per serving)