Let me tell you, taking an extra day off from work after a holiday weekend is pretty much the best thing ever.
That’s exactly what my husband and I did yesterday. Kieran has daycare on Tuesdays, so we dropped him off in the morning and had the entire day to ourselves…a true rarity. We shopped leisurely for an upcoming vacation and lunched. Yup. We LUNCHED. In the middle of the day. On a Tuesday. With glasses of wine. It was glorious.
It topped off an (extra) long weekend of indulgences. Sure, we didn’t go nuts (it’s just not in the cards for us anymore), but we definitely enjoyed the weekend to the fullest.
We took Kieran to a Phillies game on Friday night and enjoyed all the ballpark fare (hello, grapefruit shandy in a can! I love you). Then, on Saturday, we took him out for breakfast…which of course probably totaled more than any of us need calorically in a day (Dan finished his egg white omelette with a peanut butter cup milkshake the size of my head. Yup. Balance, people. Balance). We had a party/BBQ that evening, complete with cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and tonsss of snacks. Dan and I went out to an incredible dinner on Sunday night with friends, topped off with delicious cocktails and THE most insanely incredible cold brew coffee ice cream (which, if I can figure it out, I will try to recreate for you guys this summer). Monday was rainy and miserable so, naturally, we ordered pizza take out. Because that’s just what you do when it rains.
AND THEN, the grande finale, consisted of our daytime dinner yesterday. I call it a daytime dinner because that’s really what it was. A huge, indulgent meal out that we normally would be eating later in the day.
So, you could say, I am really craving some green food today. Light, lower calorie, and healthy things. Give me all the green smoothies and salads, please. I’m looking for that food reset button.
While these Greek meatball bowls aren’t particularly green (except for the cucumber), they ARE healthy as can be and taste way more indulgent than they actually are. They are exactly what I need today.
These bowls come together easily and with real ingredients. I stud chicken (or lamb!) meatballs with lots of flavor, including a little bit of feta cheese (a little goes a long way) and then bake them in the oven until crispy and golden. They go into a bowl of cauliflower rice (we’ll get to that in a minute) and topped with some of my favorite fresh veggies and loads of tzatziki sauce. Oh, and another sprinkle of feta cheese. Because we can.
Tzatziki sauce and I are having a major love affair these past few months. I mean, I’ve ALWAYS loved it. But I don’t typically eat it on the reg. Until recently, that is! Lately, I have been making or buying a batch weekly and loving it with sliced cucumbers and carrot sticks, or spread on toast, or with eggs (sounds weird I know but don’t knock it ’til you try it). It makes for the best snack ever. I crave it all the time. When I’m using it in a bowl like this, I often just buy it from the store. While it IS super easy to make (see here and here for some inspo) and that is my preferred way to do it, sometimes taking help from the store is A-OK. There are actually some really decent pre-made tzatzikis available now. Check our your local store’s selection. You may be pleasantly surprised.
The other thing that is a totally acceptable shortcut here is the cauliflower rice. Lucky for us, it is SO TRENDY right now (and has been for months and months) that you can pretty much find it at any grocery store, either in the fresh produce section or in the frozen veggie aisle. Now, for these bowls (and for the recipe below), I made my own…because it really is very easy to do so. BUT! If you’re running short on time, just grab some pre-made cauliflower rice from the store. It’s just as good, guys.
If you want to make it at home, like I did here, just pop some cauliflower florets in your food processor and pulse until it resembles the texture and shape of rice grains. Just be careful NOT to go too far! Otherwise, you’ll end up with cauliflower couscous, and to be completely honest, it’s just not as good. I’m such a texture freak, and I need it to taste like rice. Now, I’m not going to sell cauliflower rice to you as the flawless rice substitute that so many other people tout it to be. Nope. It’s still cauliflower. NOT rice. BUT! It does a great job mimicking that texture and will make you feel like you’re eating a huge bowl of something hefty.
Except it only has like 25 calories per cup or something ridiculous like that.
It will never totally replace rice for me (again, it still tastes like cauliflower), but it does provide a nice, lighter, lower carb alternative on nights where I need to reign things in a little bit.
Like today. And tomorrow. And the next five days.
Womp womp. With healthy meals like this one, though, I’m happy to do it. Because these are fabulous!
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
¼ cup milk
¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
1 lb ground chicken breast or lamb
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil, for drizzling
1 head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
The cauliflower rice
Tzatziki, homemade or store bought
Cherry tomatoes, diced
Red onion, diced
Feta cheese, crumbled
Fresh parsley, chopped
Fresh mint, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with foil. Spray liberally with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the egg and meat. Season the mixture, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Whisk in the egg and then gently fold in the meat. Mix until everything is evenly combined.
Form the mixture into 1-inch balls and place on the prepared baking sheet. Once all the meatballs are formed, drizzle them lightly with olive oil and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
Keep warm until you are ready to serve.
While the meatballs are baking, make the cauliflower rice by placing half the florets in a food processor. Pulse a few times to break down the florets. Keep going until it starts to resemble the texture of rice (don’t overdo it, though, or your rice will be more like the texture of couscous).
Place a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil and butter. Remove the “rice” from the processor and add to the skillet.
Continue the process with the remaining cauliflower florets and then add them to the skillet.
Season with salt and pepper and then cook the rice, stirring frequently, for about 8 minutes or until tender. Keep warm until you are ready to serve.
In each serving bowl, place some of the cauliflower rice. Top with a few meatballs.
Garnish the bowls as desired. My favorite is with LOTS of tzatziki, fresh tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, some finely diced red onion, and lots of fresh parsley and mint. I finish it with a little crumbled feta and a spritz of fresh lemon juice. Serve warm!