Paleo Spinach Orange Smoothie

It’s Hump Day, y’all! That means we’ve reached the halfway point of the week and we’re ALIVE. Praise the good Lord almighty ;) I’ve been busy this week, between work, getting ready for a friend’s baby shower this weekend, cleaning the house, trying to catch up on laundry & maintaining some semblance of a hairstyle. On that note – can I get a holla for the topknot?! Seriously, whoever made that an acceptable style is my hero!

Since I’m about to run to work, let’s get down to business: the smoothie. This was a random creation I threw together one night last week since we had almost nothing to eat at the house (wife fail!) and we were starving. My husband doubted my smoothie powers (“I really think this is going to be gross”), but little did he know I’m a wizard when it comes to smoothies. Okay, wizard might be pushing it but it WAS delicious! SO delicious, in fact, that he even requested it the next day. Booyah! That’s what I call #winning. Here ya go!

PALEO SPINACH ORANGE SMOOTHIE (makes 2 servings)

Yum!

Yum!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 small oranges, peeled
  • 1 banana, ripe
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple
  • 1-2 TBSP raw honey
  • Handful of spinach
  • 8-10 ice cubes

Put all the ingredients into a high-powered blender (we use our Vitamix & LOVE it!) and blend until smooth. Cuz it’s a smoothie.. see what I did there? ;)

ENJOY!!

P.S. I’d love to hear from you! You can find me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram (search “theculturedcavewoman”).

Paleo Zucchini Lasagna

Y’all, I am so super excited to share this recipe with you! Because it’s delicious. And nutritious. But mostly because it’s delicious. Ya know, Paleo can be really overwhelming, especially in the beginning.. but the more you play with your food (yes, mom, I’m allowed to do that now), the easier it gets! I promise! This recipe was created from a deep craving for some good ol’ comfort food… and there wasn’t any around. Aren’t the best things usually born out of desperation??

Anywhoo, the recipe. It’s fairly easy & makes a huge quantity of lasagna. We ended up eating off of the pan for the entire week – it was so nice to have a quick, ready-made something in the fridge that we could heat at a moment’s notice. I love meals like that, where there’s enough to last for days – especially when you’re too tired to make dinner on a Wednesday night or lunch on a Sunday. Can I get an amen??

PALEO ZUCCHINI LASAGNA

The ingredients!

The ingredients!

  • 5 medium/large zucchinis
  • 1 pkg mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 jar marinara sauce (this one in the picture is sugar/preservative/additive free)
  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • 1 cup cashews, raw and unsalted
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper to taste

 

In a small saucepan, combine the cup of cashews and 1.5 cups of water and let soak for 20 minutes.

Rinse the zucchini under cold water & use a mandolin slicer to thinly slice the zucchini.

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Sprinkle salt on each of the slices of zucchini and layer them in a colander over the sink. The salt helps the zucchini “sweat” and removes all excess moisture so your recipe doesn’t end up soggy. Let them sit for about 10-15 minutes.

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After the zucchini has “sweated”, lay them flat on some paper towels & dab until dry.

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After the cashews have soaked, use a food processor to grind the nuts into small pieces.

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Add the spinach to the cashews, along with garlic powder, salt & almond milk and blend until you reach a ricotta cheese consistency.

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In a nonstick pan, brown your ground turkey with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Add the chopped onions and cook until meat is cooked through and onions are tender. Add the marinara sauce and mushrooms and stir until combined. Let cook an additional 3-5 minutes or until mushrooms are soft and then remove from heat and set aside.

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Layer the zucchini on the bottom of your pan.

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Top with a layer of meat sauce, then add a few spoonfuls of the nut “cheese” and spread with a spatula (this took a gentle hand!)

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I finished with a layer of meat sauce & then baked at 350 for 25 minutes (or until heated through). Enjoy!!

The finished product!

The finished product!

I didn’t get a great “after” photo, but you get the idea!! This turned out delicious – the hubs took some to work & texted me after he ate saying, “It tastes just like REAL lasagna!!!” Which is quite possibly the best compliment in the entire WORLD! That’s what I want Paleo to be for you guys – super incredible tasting AND good for you!! I can’t wait for y’all to try this one! :)

PS: I’d love to hear from you! You can find me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram (username: __theculturedcavewoman__ or just search “itsbrenae” and it will pull up!)

Crockpot Shredded Chicken Tacos (with Paleo Tortillas)!

I don’t know if you’re like me, but after a long day of work, the LAST thing I want to do is cook for 2 hours. Which is why I LUURVE my handy dandy Crockpot. Seriously, I could kiss the person who invented those things!! And this is one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever made in mine. It literally takes 5 mins of prep work & then a few more for the tortillas and voila! Perfect dinner on the table. Wham bam thank you ma’am.

PS: For those wondering, my first day of work yesterday was amazing!! The people I work with are pretty fantastic & I can’t wait to see what I’ll gain from being there. I’m actually looking forward to going in today, which is something I haven’t felt in a long time. Yay new jobs!

PPS: This was a last minute toss-together meal, so I didn’t take very many pictures, especially of the tortillas! Okay, okay, I didn’t take ANY of the tortillas. Food blogger fail. Haha! I’ll post the recipe today though & hopefully get a separate post up soon with some darn photographic instructions!

CROCKPOT SHREDDED CHICKEN TACOS

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 2oz can diced green chiles (mild)
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Add all of the above ingredients, starting with the chicken, to your crock pot.

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Stir together, set on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours, depending on how long you plan for. When the timer beeps, shred the chicken using a fork & enjoy!

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PALEO GUACAMOLE

  • 3 medium avocados
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • juice of 3 lemons
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • a few turns of coarse ground black pepper

Cut your avocados in half, starting at the top and moving your knife around the seed in the middle. Pull apart gently & remove the seed. Squeeze out the avocado into a bowl and mash with a fork. Add the tomatoes and red onion & mix together.

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Squeeze the lemons directly into the bowl, making sure no seeds fall in! Add the spices & stir. The lemon juice should give it a nice smooth texture. Add more salt/garlic powder to taste, if you wish!

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PALEO TORTILLAS

Okay y’all, I warned you! No pictures for this one. So I’ll try to use beautiful words and paint a mental image instead ;)

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 TBSP almond flour
  • 1 TBSP coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • sprinkle chili powder
  • sprinkle onion powder

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl, making sure there are no clumps of batter. Spray a non-stick pan with some coconut oil & heat it over medium heat. Wait a minute or so for the pan to warm up, then pour about 1-2 TBSP of batter into the pan. Quickly swirl the pan around to spread the batter out – you want it to be pretty thin all around!

Cook for about 1 min on each side, or until you can flip it easily. I found the easiest tool to flip it with was a rubber spatula. My plastic spatula would tear the tortilla. Cook until golden brown on both sides, then remove & do the next one. Repeat until all of your batter is gone.

The finished product!

The finished product!

The finished product!

The finished product!

Y’all. These tacos HIT. THE. SPOT. Like fo real. You definitely have to be a little more gentle with the Paleo tortillas than normal ones, but when a craving strikes… these deliver. It was so nice to actually be able to HOLD my taco and take a bite. It didn’t fall apart. I didn’t have to wrap it in lettuce, which I do sometimes! It was just nice for a change of pace.

I hope you enjoy these & let me know how you like them!! :) You can find me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram (username: __theculturedcavewoman__)

Salmon with Roasted Butternut & Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus

Ahh yes, another Monday has arrived! And just in order to brighten yours up, here is my first recipe post of 2013!! Yaaaay! I’m hoping it brightens mine up too, to be honest ;) This weekend was particularly sad, since it was the last few days before the hubs & I head back to work. Womp womp. We’ve had SUCH a good Christmas break & it’s so hard to think about only seeing each other for a couple of hours in the evening after spending 14+ straight days together. The only bright point is that we are both people who function well under structure, so getting back into a routine will be rather enjoyable. Call us nerds. But my house may actually stand a chance at getting cleaned & laundry might actually make it into drawers and closets! I mean, there’s not need to get crazy now, but still. Hopefully there will be some benefit to gettin’ back to the grind. ;)

Soo, one of our (many) New Year resolutions is to stay away from any meat that has been treated with hormones, antibiotics and the like. I know this can get pricey (believe me, we’re feelin’ it!), so while we definitely can’t always go that route, we’re trying to do it as much as possible. That being said, I decided to go with Sockeye salmon for this dish! It’s a little pricier than Atlantic salmon, but it’s not farmed or treated with anything. And the taste… OUT OF THIS WORLD. Seriously, I don’t think I could ever go back. Plus, the peace of mind in knowing we’re putting GOOD stuff into our bodies makes it completely worthwhile :)

SALMON WITH ROASTED BUTTERNUT & BACON-WRAPPED ASPARAGUS

The ingredients!

The ingredients!

  • 2 fillets sockeye salmon
  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 5-6 slices of bacon
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp dried parsley flakes
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 375 and begin cutting up your butternut squash. Slice the ends off first, then cut into 4 equal pieces. Carefully run your knife down the sides, peeling the skin off. Quarter the remaining pieces into cubes, like this:

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Toss the squash pieces with 1 TBSP olive oil & sprinkle some salt and pepper on top. Line a cookie sheet with foil (we ran out, which is why I don’t have any in the pictures HA), lay the squash evenly on the sheet & roast for 30-35 minutes or until tender.

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Meanwhile, rinse the asparagus off under cold water and dry. Cut about 1-2 inches off the bottom stems (that part isn’t very tasty!) and place into groups of 2-3.

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Cut your pieces of bacon in half and wrap tightly around the asparagus. Line another cookie sheet with foil and place asparagus on the sheet. Add a dash of salt & pepper to each group of asparagus & drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil. The bacon will provide some grease, so don’t go overboard here! Just enough to give it some good flavor. Turn your oven to 400 & cook for 10 minutes, flip & cook an additonal 5 minutes or until bacon is crispy and asparagus is tender. I ended up broiling them on high for a minute or 2 at the end to really crisp up the bacon!

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Spread a little olive oil on a cookie sheet, and drizzle a little on top of the salmon. Divide the 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp salt. 1/8 tsp parsley flakes and dash of pepper between the 2 fillets.

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Cook at 425 for 12-14 min or until done. If you want to cook the asparagus and salmon at the same time, just cook the salmon for 15-18 minutes instead or until done (it will flake off with a fork).

The finished product!

The finished product!

The finished product!

The finished product!

The salmon was tender but moist. The flavor combination between the asparagus and bacon was incredible. And roasted butternut squash – always a winner!! This was such a great meal – not a crazy amount of prep time, great medley of flavors & full of good nutrition! A new fave in our house, for sure!

Let me know what you think! I’d love to hear from you on here OR you can find me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram (username: @itsbrenae) :)

The Cultured Cavewoman’s Fave Trail Mix

Wheeew. Soo, the next 2 days are going to be an absolute WHIRLWIND. My beautiful sister-in-law is getting married tomorrow night (and Matt & I are both in the wedding), so we have rehearsal dinner tonight, then more decorating & other last minute wedding madness after that. PLUS, we are leaving for California on Saturday morning… so we need to pack! Like, yesterday. I have 2 loads going in the washing machine right now & am trying to not freak out about everything that needs to get done before we take off. And to top it all off, my husband (very generously) passed along the sickness he just recovered from a couple days ago. Yay me.

Trying my hardest to focus on the good though – Christmas in California… it’s gonna be glorious! I’m originally from LA & haven’t seen my family since the wedding (in March!), so we’re pretty darn excited for 9 whole days of vacation with everyone. Sleeping in, relaxing, exploring, spending time together… cannot. wait.

Okay, onto the recipe. We love traveling (seriously.. like, LUUURVE), but we aren’t such huge fans of airport food (is anyone??). One, everything is so ridiculously expensive. And two, let’s be honest… the food just isn’t that great! So we generally try to bring some of our own goodies to munch on while we hang out in the terminal – yummy and cost-effective, the best! Here’s a recipe for one of our fave treats: trail mix!

TRAIL MIX: (makes appox 3.5 cups of mix)

The ingredients!

The ingredients!

  • 1/3 cup raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 2/3 cup raw, unsalted almonds
  • 1/2 cup roasted, salted macadamia nuts
  • 1/2 cup pistachio pieces
  • 3/4 cup organic dried cherries
  • 1/3 cup organic dark chocolate pieces

I decided to toast the almonds, sunflower & pumpkin seeds myself (because they always taste better homemade!). So grab a pan and dump the first 2 ingredients in (I did all 3 together at first but soon realized the almonds would take much longer to toast, so ended up separating them so the smaller seeds wouldn’t burn). Toast the sunflower and pumpkin seeds over medium heat, stirring constantly until they start turning golden brown & smell toasty. Be careful because they burn SUPER easily! Do the almonds next & then set aside in a bowl to let cool completely.

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Dried cherries are my faaaaavorite. Ever. And they taste so delicious in this trail mix!

Yum!

Yum!

Once the nuts & seeds have cooled completely, mix all of the ingredients together in a container. If you don’t let it cool, the chocolate will melt, which is no bueno. Unless you like your trail mix melted together. Then by all means, do whatcha do.

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I know there are like a million trail mixes out there that are prepackaged, but if you’re like me, I usually end up picking out 1 or more of the ingredients that I don’t like. So I have taken to making my own! Not only is it fresh and delicious, but it’s also pretty inexpensive! This whole batch cost me about $12. Can I get a wut-wut?! The measurements of the dried fruit, chocolate & nuts/seeds is pretty darn perfect in my opinion, but feel free to change out any of these ingredients with YOUR faves and enjoy!!

I’d love to hear from you!! You can find me on Facebook, Instagram (username: @itsbrenae) or Pinterest! :)

 

 

 

 

 

Cauliflower Leek Soup

Yesterday was a LONG day. We ended up ordering take out after work (General Tso’s for him and Thai Chicken Curry for me!) and snuggling on the couch watching Macgyver until it was time for bed. It was just one of those days! Thankful for a good night’s sleep and a hot cup of coffee right now. It’s a beautiful day where I am – crisp, breezy and the sun is juuust starting to peek through the morning clouds. Choosing to focus on the blessings each day has to offer – God is just too good!

Now, onto the recipe! All I can say is: YUM! I kinda played around in the kitchen with this one – adding a little of this and a little of that, until I got the flavors right. Lucky for you, I actually remembered to write down all of the changes I made this time! So yay for that! Y’all, this soup is delicious. I have to admit, my husband was a little skeptical at first (“Cauliflower soup? Like an entire thing of soup made from just cauliflower??”), but even he had seconds! It’s perfect for the cold weather that’s coming (and already has come for some of you!) – warm, creamy, filling. Sigh. There is nothing like a hot bowl of soup on a chilly evening! Am I right? Or am I right?

CAULIFLOWER LEEK(serves 4)

The ingredients!

The ingredients!

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 3 leeks (they have a mild onion-y flavor)
  • 1 can organic chicken broth
  • 1 medium-sized shallot (another onion)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 TBSP salt (+ or – depending on your tastes)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • BACON (it deserves to be capitalized, don’t you think?)

Alright – I’m about to share something that will change your LIFE! Okay, maybe not your life, but definitely the way you cook Paleo. Ever wonder how the heck you’re supposed to substitute the cream in various recipes? Such as soup, Indian dishes, etc? Well, look no further! And watch real close – cuz it’s like magic.

Fill a medium-sized sauce pan with water and add your cashews. Bring it to a boil, then turn the heat off, cover and let sit for about 30 minutes.

Cashews!

Cashews!

Pour the water from the pan into a bowl or measuring cup and SET ASIDE. DO NOT GET RID OF THE LIQUID! Then, add the cashews and about 1/2-1 cup of the liquid to your Vitamix (or some other high powered blender) and puree until it becomes a creamy sauce (about 30 seconds). TA DA!! You have your cream base. And you can literally use it for anything since cashews are essentially flavorless. You. Are. Welcome.

Amazeballs.

Amazeballs.

See? Creamy goodness.

See? Creamy goodness.

You can leave the cashew cream in the blender since you’ll be adding to it later!

Since you’ll have 30 minutes while the cashews are soaking, preheat your oven to 400 and cut up your cauliflower into pieces like this:

Drizzle with olive oil!

Drizzle with olive oil!

Add the 4 cloves of garlic (in their skin) to the pan and bake at 400 for 25 minutes or until your cauliflower is tender and looks like THIS:

Crispy!

Crispy!

Meanwhile, rinse the leeks (they tend to have a bit of dirt in the folds) then slice ’em up and dice the shallot.

Use the white and light green end!

Use the white and light green end (the bottom half of the leek!)

Cook in a non-stick pan with a little bit of olive oil until tender and set aside.

Love the colors!

Love the colors!

Lay out your bacon (I did 3 strips each because.. well… we love bacon) on a cookie sheet lined with foil and bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes or until your bacon is the desired level of doneness.

Baaaacon

Baaaacon

Glorious, glorious bacon.

Come to mama.

Add the cooked leeks and shallots to the cashew cream (still in the blender) and puree. We pureed in spurts, mainly because we wanted to keep some of the texture (runny soup just doesn’t sound appetizing, ya know?!). Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized pot. Next, add your roasted cauliflower and garlic (remove the outer shell after roasting) to the blender, along with the chicken broth and puree it on high until completely blended.

Almost there!

Almost there!

Once blended, transfer the entire mixture to the pot with the leeks and cashew cream and stir together. Add all of the spices (rosemary, paprika, thyme, salt, garlic powder and red pepper flakes) along with 1/2 cup-1 cup of water. The water will help smooth out the soup – I found it was WAY too thick before the water, but to each his own. I would start out with about 1/2 of a cup and then add more until it’s the texture you’re looking for.

Perfect soup - flavorful, creamy, thick!

Perfect soup – flavorful, creamy, thick!

I crumbled two of the pieces of bacon and stirred them into our bowls (it was like hitting the jackpot every time we got some in a bite!) and then topped it with the 3rd piece of bacon and a tiny sprinkle of rosemary.

YUM!!!

The finished product!

So what are you waiting for!? Go grab the ingredients, make yourself a nice big pot ‘o soup and cuddle up with a cozy blanket and full bowl of goodness- fall is upon us! So why not take advantage of it? :)

Let me know what you think!

“Spaghetti” and Meatballs

Welp, this past weekend was quite a productive one! The hubs and I ran a ton of errands, hit up our home away from home (Lowe’s) for several items and just had a lot of fun laughing together. Oh, and we hung the knife strip!!! I know you’re all dying to see a picture, so here it is!

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Yay!

Isn’t she lovely?! I love how it looks – and I LOVE these knives. They’re Wustoff Classics and they are AMAZING. My now-husband bought them for me as a Christmas present (we’d only been dating for about 5 weeks), but he called it an investment into his future HAHA. Apparently the man REALLY liked my cooking ;) Seriously though, good knives can be a big investment, but they’re totally worth it in my opinion.

On a side note, I decided to white-wash our fireplace on Sunday night! It was a bit of an impulsive decision, but it’s been bugging me for awhile now – the brick is a dingy white/tan color and it was pretty dirty. I even tried cleaning it! No such luck. Is it possible to clean brick? Does anyone know?! Anyways, the previous owners also stuck 3 random pieces of granite in the fireplace between the bricks (I don’t understand either), so it was really an eyesore. Finally, I just couldn’t stand it anymore so my husband came home to me flicking watery paint all around the living room (and I do mean ALL around)… and somehow he still managed to smile and (through gritted teeth) tell me how much he loves me. Whoopsie. I still need to do a second coat sometime this week – it doesn’t look BAD so far, but it sure doesn’t look good yet. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this doesn’t turn out to be a botched project… cuz there’s no going back! I’ll keep you updated ;)

Okay, spaghetti and meatballs! This recipe is SO easy, y’all. And it is also incredibly delicious!

SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS (serves 3-4)

The ingredients!

The ingredients!

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 1 jar marinara (preferably one with no added sugars, etc)
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 TBSP red onion, chopped
  • 2 TBSP fresh parsley, chopped and loosely packed
  • 2 basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 TBSP almond meal
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt & dash pepper

Preheat your oven to 400. Cut your spaghetti squash lengthwise and lay it facedown on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until very tender.

You can scoop out the seeds before you cook it or after - I usually do after!

You can scoop out the seeds before you cook it or after – I usually do after!

Next, chop your parsley, red onion and basil and add to a medium sized mixing bowl.

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Red onion and parsley add so much flavor!

Add in the remaining ingredients to the bowl, except the marinara. I’ve found the easiest way is to mix it with my hands, although it’s also the messiest way. To each his own! Spray a cookie sheet lined with foil with a bit of coconut or olive oil and then mix together and form into balls about 1 inch in diameter.

I was able to make about 20 meatballs from this recipe.

I was able to make about 20 meatballs from this recipe.

Bake the meatballs at 400 for about 12-15 minutes or until cooked through. Next, add 1 TBSP olive oil in a non stick pan and let it get hot (the oil will start to get runny). Add your meat balls to the pan and brown for about 1 minute on each side.

Yum! The crispy edges are my favorite!

Yum! The crispy edges are my favorite!

It’s such a quick process, but it adds so much to the flavor! Paleo meatballs can sometimes be squishy because there are no bread crumbs to really bind them together, so the browning will help add some texture!

Heat your marinara in a small sauce pan on medium heat and add the meatballs. Let simmer for 3-5 minutes or until heated through.

Doesn't this look amazing?!

Doesn’t this look amazing?!

Meanwhile, remove your squash from the oven, let it cool for about 5 minutes (or it’ll burn the beejesus out of your hands), then scrape out the seeds! Using the same spoon, scoop the squash onto 2 plates and top with the sauce and meatballs!

SO GOOD!

SO GOOD!

The finished product!

The finished product!

This was like heaven, y’all. The combination of the meatballs and marinara was so ridiculously good, it really felt like we were eating real spaghetti! Shoot, the meatballs were so flavorful and crispy, I could’ve eaten them by themselves! I even had some for lunch the next day and it was just as good. Definitely a keeper. Let me know what you think!