HEALTHY SWEET & SOUR MEATBALLS
This recipe has cycled through my meal preps for years - it's so good! These Healthy Sweet & Sour Meatballs are inspired by a favorite Taste of Home recipe, modified to reduce the sugar and fat. It's got the perfect balance of sweet and sour, tropical pineapple, bright peppers, and tender homemade meatballs. It's gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free too! I used Swerve Brown instead of brown sugar to cut back on the added sugars.
Did you know? About 90% of the natural sweetener erythritol is excreted in the urine, while 10% is fermented by bacteria in the colon. Because of this, erythritol is virtually calorie-free (0.2kcal per gram), and does not increase blood sugar nor insulin. The only known side effect is gas and bloating when consumed in large amounts. (source)
Beef and alternatives
This recipe calls for 93% lean ground beef. I use leaner meats to limit the amount of saturated fat, which in excess can contribute to insulin resistance and high blood triglycerides. I also choose "grass-fed" or "organic" ground beef, which tends to be higher in anti-inflammatory fats compared to conventional beef. These types of beef also tend to be more humane!
If you don't eat beef or just don't have any on hand, you can substitute 93% lean ground turkey, ground chicken, or meatless ground.
Pineapple and vegetables
I recommend canned pineapple chunks in juice for this recipe, simply because we need the juice from the can for the sauce! However, if you use fresh pineapple, you could juice part of it for one cup of juice, or substitute orange juice.
Bell peppers and green onions taste delicious in this recipe, but you could substitute other vegetables like broccoli, green beans, zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, or carrots.
Also, if you don't have fresh garlic for the meatballs, you can substitute three-quarter teaspoon of garlic powder instead.
Sweet and sour sauce
For the sweet and sour sauce, I used coconut aminos, natural rice vinegar, sugar-free brown sugar alternative, and cornstarch. You can use soy sauce instead of the coconut aminos, but it won't be gluten-free and you may need more sweetener to get the right flavor. Also, make sure you use natural rice vinegar and not seasoned or sweetened (like mirin).
If you prefer not to use a sugar-free sweetener, you can use brown or coconut sugar instead. Just keep in mind this will increase the added sugar, carbs, and calories.
Lastly, tapioca starch can be used in place of the cornstarch if you prefer. You just might need an extra tablespoon or so to get the right thickness.
What to serve it over?
I served mine over fragrant Jasmine rice, which is one of my favorite carbs. That said, any type of rice will work - just cook according to the package. If you need to watch your carbs, try cauliflower rice!
Here is the printable recipe for these Healthy Sweet & Sour Meatballs. I hope you'll rate this recipe and comment below if you try it :)
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Healthy Sweet & Sour Meatballs
These Healthy Sweet & Sour Meatballs are based off a favorite Taste of Home recipe, modified to reduce the sugar and fat. It's got the perfect balance of sweet and sour, tropical pineapple, bright peppers, and tender homemade meatballs. It's gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free too!
2 lbs. 93% lean ground beef*
2 tbsp. coconut aminos* (or soy sauce or tamari)
2 tsp. fresh garlic*, minced
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. salt
1-20 oz. can diced pineapple in juice*
1 cup pineapple juice from can*
3 tbsp. coconut aminos (or soy sauce or tamari)
3 tbsp. natural rice vinegar* (not seasoned or sweet)
3 tbsp. sugar free brown sugar alternative* (like Swerve)
1 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch (or tapioca starch)
3 cups bell pepper*, chopped
1 cup green onions*, chopped
*See blog post for more substitutions.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Combine the first five ingredients for the meatballs. Mix just until well combined, then form into balls using heaping tablespoons.
Arrange meatballs on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes until cooked through.
Drain pineapple juice from a can into a measuring cup and set aside canned pineapple. If you don't have a full cup, you can add orange juice.
Add juice, coconut aminos, rice vinegar, sweetener, and starch to a medium mixing bowl for sauce. Whisk until combined.
Add meatballs to a large wok along with diced pineapple, peppers, green onions, and sauce. Simmer over medium heat, stirring often, until sauce is thickened and peppers are tender.
Divide wok contents into six equal servings into meal prep containers over rice (can use Jasmine, long grain white rice, medium grain brown rice, or cauliflower rice).
Enjoy! Leftovers will keep in a sealed container in the fridge up to a week or in the freezer up to a month.
Calories (per serving, not including rice): 317kcal, Fat: 10.9g, Sat fat: 4.1g, Carbs: 21g, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 16g, Protein: 32g, Sodium: 517mg
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