Recipe Makeover: Emeril Lagasse’s Spanish Meatballs

Our healthy rework of this famous chef's recipe

Plate of spanish meatballs
Emeril Lagasse’s Spanish Meatballs get a healthy upgrade from the Clean Plates crew.

January 31, 2021

Holiday parties are just around the corner.  If you’re looking for a festive and savory appetizer to serve, Clean Plates’ makeover of Emeril Lagasse’s Spanish Meatballs is guaranteed to leave your guests clamoring for more. We keep all the flavor of the original recipe while boosting its nutritive value with better-for-you ingredients.

Gluten-free? Our recommendations below also accommodate those with gluten and wheat intolerance.

Replace ground veal with equal parts organic ground pork and beef from grass-fed animals free of antibiotics and hormones.  Pasture-raised meat also boasts lower fat, less calories, and health-promoting essential omega-3s. And if you aren’t tired of turkey yet, organic, grass-fed ground turkey is a nutrient-rich, lean option for this recipe.

Boost nutrients with organic, free-range eggs from pasture-raised hens.  If these aren’t available in your area, look for hormone- and antibiotic-free eggs from organic cage-free hens.  Battery-caged hens tend to have a greater chance of producing eggs with salmonella, lower nutrients and a bland, fishy taste.

Swap whole grain flour breadcrumbs for the processed, all-purpose white flour variety—here’s our recipe:

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Tear two pieces of whole grain bread into small pieces and pulse in a food processor until breadcrumb texture.
  • Spread the crumbs onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and dry the crumbs in the oven, stirring occasionally, until dry.
  • Allow to cool before adding to the recipe. Store unused breadcrumbs in a freezer bag or tightly covered container in the freezer for up to three months.

Raise your antioxidant levels, protect against disease (while keeping your waistline slim), and help the environment by using organic extra virgin olive oil instead of conventional varieties treated with harmful pesticides.

Add flavor and avoid additives by choosing organic, sodium-free chicken stock. Up for making your own? Here’s our recipe:

  • In a large pot, place 1 (3-lb) chicken, 2 carrots (peeled and chopped in a large dice), 2 stalks celery, 1 yellow onion (peeled and quartered), 1 bay leaf, 5 sprigs thyme, 5 sprigs fresh parsley and 1 teaspoon black peppercorns in a large pot.
  • Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to a simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours, skimming the foam.
  • Strain the entire contents through a colander and discard the solids.

Increase nutritional value with organic spelt flour, an ancient grain related to wheat with a nut-like flavor, in lieu of all-purpose flour.  Unlike other grains, even conventionally grown spelt is not commonly sprayed with pesticides or other synthetic chemicals. As an added bonus, those with wheat allergies often tolerate immune-strengthening spelt. To make a gluten-free version, use sweet rice flour or brown rice flour to thicken.

Replace Kosher salt with mineral-rich and toxin-free Himalayan crystal salt or Real Salt from Utah.  Both are pink-hued,unrefined salts harvested from ancient salt deposits.

Enjoy this season’s merrymaking and let us know if you have a favorite holiday dish you’d like us to give the Clean Plates makeover treatment!