Zesty Chicken Meatballs with Mango Salsa & Cilantro Cauliflower Rice

Guys, can you believe it? It's going to be above 70° this weekend here in LA!I know that isn't uncommon, and probably annoying to hear, but I stand by the fact that it's been unusually colder here this spring. And by cold I mean 65°.

Shh, if you listen closely, you can probably hear my boyfriend rolling his eyes at me.

It's Friday today, and this weekend will be my first free weekend in LA for the last several weeks. I do have to work for a few hours on Saturday, but I'm looking forward to not getting in my car for the remainder of the weekend, soaking up some sun, and returning to some sort of active lifestyle. The past two weekends were spent away from home. Two weekends ago I was in Vegas for my good friend's bachelorette party, and the following I was home for Easter and another friend's birthday. Nothing beats several weeks of running wild with my friends and spending quality time at home, but I can tell you now, my body is feeling it.

I'm used to being active and making healthy choices both in what I cook and what I order out, but after several weeks of not worrying about choosing a salad over some chicken strips, I've felt a little stuck. Most notably, with sugar. I've never been one to crave sugar. My cravings usually come in the form of umami or salty; typical comfort foods. Now, don't get me wrong...I love sweets - candy, cookies, you name it. However, when it comes to cravings, sugar-induced ones were always few and far between. Whenever a sugar craving did hit, I was usually able to suppress by adding cacao or chocolate powder in a smoothie, a bite of peanut butter and honey, or I would simply give into the craving and move on. It was easy. Now, not so much.

That said, I think I'm going to attempt the Whole30 starting May 8th. Now that I've made it public (to all 5 of you who read this), I really can't go back. The Internet knows!

Last May I did something similar called The Whole Life Challenge. Though the food options were far more lenient than the Whole30 will be, it really helped transform my healthy lifestyle and eating habits. Since then, I've adopted a weekly Paleo-ish lifestyle, which incorporates foods that I deemed appropriate for myself (corn, beans, some sprouted bread and grains). On the weekends, I don't put a label on what I eat. I live my life fairly well in what Whole30-ers know as "Food Freedom," but sometimes we all get into a rut (read: sugar), and I love a good lifestyle challenge. So, here goes nothing...

Thankfully, a lot of my meals in Dollop of Dani are Whole30, or with a few simple tweaks can be Whole30. The hardest part for me, other than getting through those first few angry sugar cravings, will be replacing beans and greek yogurt. I don't always eat a lot of meat, and I love a good veggie bowl or salad. In order to get solid protein when eating vegetarian, I rely heavily on beans. My go-to breakfast bowl will need to be tweaked, *cries internally*. As for yogurt, I use it as a replacement for sour cream and mayo. I thicken sauces with it, make dressings and dips, and eat it as is with fruit. This is always in my house, so switching to coconut yogurt and paleo mayo will be a big change. Other than that, I'm looking forward to coming up with some creative new meals to get me through. If anyone is interested in doing it with us (I've persuaded my friend Bridget to join me), has questions, or is just genuinely curious...hit me up. I love chatting.

These Zesty Chicken Meatballs are perfect for a light spring or summer meal, and can easily be tweaked to fit any diet. Gluten free? Sub gluten free bread crumbs and add regular rice! Paleo or Whole30? Stick with the almond meal as a binder and serve with your favorite salad or try the cilantro cauliflower rice below! No diet preference? Use whatever bread crumbs your heart desires!

Serving Size: 4

INGREDIENTS:

Meatballs:

1 lb chicken*

1/4 cup minced red onion

1 large tablespoon jalapeños, minced

1 egg

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 cup almond flour*

4 cups riced cauliflower

1/2 lime, juiced

1/3 cilantro

splash of broth

Salsa:

1/4 cup red onion, diced

1 cup chopped mango

1/4 cup cilantro

Salt and pepper

1/2 lime, juiced

1 tsp of olive oil

Notes:

1 pound of chicken makes roughly 13-15 meatballs, depending on how large you shape them. I recommend making the entire serving, even if you aren't feeding 4 people, and freezing any leftover. Cutting the recipe in half messes with the ratio.

If you are not gluten free, paleo, or on Whole30 you can sub in any bread crumbs you prefer. I've made meatballs before by toasting sprout bread and sending it through the food processor, works wonderfully.

Instructions:

1. Preheat your oven to 375°.

2. Add all ingredients for the meatballs to a bowl and combine. Best to use your hands!

3. Heat a large tablespoon of oil in a skillet, add the meatballs, and brown 1-2 minutes on each side. If your skillet is oven safe, transfer to the oven once all meatballs are lightly browned. If not, transfer to a greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through.

4. While meatballs are cooking, prepare your salsa ingredients.

5. Add the dry ingredients to a bowl, pour over the lime juice and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, mix to combine, and set aside.

6. In a large non-stick skillet, heat a table spoon of oil. Add in the cauliflower rice, broth, and season with salt and pepper and coo, stirring constantly, for about 5-6 minutes.

7. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice.

8. To serve, place 3-4 meatballs over 1 cup of cauliflower rice per person. Top with mango salsa and preferred hot sauce!

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