The paleo diet is becoming a more popular way of dieting across the United States. With obesity rates on the rise, there’s a need to look for other food protocols that are just as satiating but lower in calories to help with weight management. One such diet that is becoming a frontrunner is the paleo diet. This diet places emphasis on avoiding refined carbs to help avoid gastrointestinal inflammation and carb cravings that lead to overeating. Sugar addiction is real, and when your kids’ are constantly being fed refined sugars and simple carbs, they can become addicted to them. Without these sugars, they may experience carb crashes or intense cravings for sugar, resulting in mood swings, unstable energy levels, and malnutrition.
While the traditional lunch box features a lunch meat sandwich with a bag of chips and a sugary soda, our recipe is anything but. These paleo meatballs are filled with healthy protein and fat, giving your kids the energy they need in a scrumptious package.
It’s Cloudy, with a Chance of Meatballs – In Your Kid’s Lunchbox
Start your recipe with grass-fed beef mince. It’s essential that you source grass-fed beef for this meal because you will absolutely taste the difference and the nutrition profile is excellent. Cows that are fed a grass-based diet are higher in Omega-3 fatty acids compared to those that are fed grains. Omega-3 EFA’s have a tremendous benefit for the health of your kids which include better cardiovascular health and lessened risk of stroke.
Next Up… Vegetables
While they may balk at the sight of vegetables in their lunchbox, it’s essential for overall health and wellness that they have at least a small portion of micronutrients in their meals. Start small if they’re really not fond of vegetables and slowly increase their portions so they don’t have a hard time adjusting. Organic produce is preferred for this because it contains no herbicides or pesticides which have been shown to cause adverse health effects.
Zucchini Noodles, the Game-Changer in Paleo Dieting
Most paleo dieters have come across zucchini noodles when looking for recipes online. That’s because it’s one of the best alternatives to wheat-based noodles and is easy to find, too. You’ll be adding the zucchini noodles to sauteed garlic (that smell!) to make the base of this dish. For the oil, we recommend using extra-virgin olive oil. This oil is rich in monounsaturated fats which is great for heart health as well.
Once all your ingredients are ready, simply make the meatballs. Combine the beef with the chopped and crushed garlic, onion and seasoning. Press them into pingpong-sized meatballs and baked for 8-10 minutes at 350°F. I like making smaller meatballs because it takes less time to cook and it cooks evenly up to the center. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of your oven so keep an eye on it to avoid overcooking.
If you have a vegetable spiralizer, now is the perfect time to use it. Spiralize your zucchini, halve your cherry tomatoes and cook them in a pan with more garlic. By now, your meatballs are just about done and your kitchen probably smells like heaven. Combine everything together and try not to dig in while you pack them into lunch boxes. Yum!
More Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids:
Paleo Meatball Kids Lunch
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 15
- Total Time: 25
For the meatballs
- 4 oz extra lean beef mince
- 1 tbsp finely chopped onion
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- ¼ tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp olive oil
- salt and black pepper to taste
The rest of ingredients
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium zucchini, spiralized into noodles
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ tsp Italian seasoning (optional)
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- To make the meatballs, in a bowl place the beef, onion, garlic, Italian seasoning and salt and black pepper to taste.
- Mix to combine.
- Form the meat mixture into 1 inch round balls.
- Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet.
- Brush the meatballs with 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
- Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or until cooked.
- Meanwhile, in a nonstick skillet heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the cherry tomatoes and cook stirring occasionally, until tomatoes release their juices, 6–8 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the zucchini noodles and Italian seasoning (if using) and cook for 3-5 minutes or until al dente.
- Remove from the heat, season with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Add the meatballs and toss to combine.