How obvious is it that I'm in full blown pumpkin spice everything mode? Sorry, not sorry. I hit up a great sale on canned pumpkin and stocked up, so there's no better time than now to start utilizing this stuff in as many recipes as possible. First it was my Paleo Pumpkin Jalapeno Poppers, and now it's this absolutely amazing recipe for Paleo Pumpkin Spice Turkey Meatballs. While there's nothing wrong with all the sweet pumpkiney treats this season has to offer, I'm more drawn to using pumpkin in savory, warm and comforting dishes. Not to mention, I'm a pretty mediocre dessert maker. It is what it is.
Let's briefly chat about why you should also be stocking up on pumpkin while it's in season, and no -not because they're cute Halloween decorations and Thanksgiving pie filling. You guys, they're really, really, really good for you! I won't bore you with the complete nutritional breakdown, but pumpkins are high in immunity-boosting beta-carotene and vitamin C. With flu season creeping up on us, this is the time of year to load up on immunity-boosting foods, like pumpkin. So dig in!
If you're worried these meatballs may be sweet because of the "pumpkin spice," don't be. Pumpkin itself has a very mild, earthy flavor and the herbs and spices used to flavor these meatballs is more savory than sweet.
Quick notes about the ingredients:
- Ground Turkey - I'm fairly confident that swapping out the ground turkey for ground chicken or pork would work just as well.
- Canned Pumpkin - Make sure to use 100% canned pumpkin (or pumpkin puree) as oppose to pumpkin pie filling. Check the ingredients on the back of the can. 100% canned pumpkin will list pumpkin (and maybe a little salt), while pumpkin pie filling will most likely have sneaky sugars and syrups. Big difference. For a Paleo-friendly/Whole30-compliant meatball sneaky sugars and syrups are a big no no.
- Coconut Flour - I used coconut flour as the binder for these meatballs because from my experience using coconut flour in meatball recipes results in yummy, moist meatballs. There's nothing more disappointing than a dry meatball. I surfed around a few similar recipes and almond flour seems to be another meatball recipe fan favorite. Use what you have on hand!
- Pumpkin "Spice" - The blend of herbs and spices I crafted to recreate pumpkin spice isn't exactly like the ingredients in the pre-made seasoning blends. It's definitely more savory, but absolutely delicious nonetheless.
- Avocado Oil (for browning) - Any cooking fat with a high smoking point will work. Once again, just use what you have on hand.
These meatballs are so easy to make!
- Begin by pre-heating your oven to 350 degrees. While the oven pre-heats, assemble the meatballs. In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, canned pumpkin, coconut flour, minced garlic, grated ginger and remaining dried herbs and spices. When mixing any sort of ground meat concoction, I have zero qualms with using my hands but that's totally up to you. Use a heavy spoon, if you must. No matter which method you choose, make sure everything is mixed thoroughly!
- After mixing everything together, I like to let the mixture chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. I've found that it's easier to form meatballs if the mixture is at a cooler temperature. It doesn't stick to your hands as much. No time for that? No worries. Wet hands are also a great tool for forming meatballs. Anywho, form the mixture into 12 heaping tablespoon-sized meatballs and set aside.
- In a large cast-iron skillet or heat-safe skillet, heat avocado oil until hot not smoking. Transfer meatballs to hot skillet, lightly browning for 2 to 3 minutes per side. The goal here is to get the meatballs to retain their shape before finishing the cooking process in the oven.
- Once the meatballs are lightly browned, transfer the skillet to your 350 degree pre-heated oven and bake for 20 minutes.
- Carefully remove from the oven and enjoy!
As an appetizer, these meatballs are great served alongside a creamy dairy-free ranch dressing. As an entree, these meatballs are great served on top of a pile of fluffy cauliflower rice or creamy butternut squash mash.
I made a huge batch and stored them in my fridge as a quick and delicious protein-packed snack! Even reheated, they retain their moisture very well!
However you decide to serve this delicious fall twist on a classic, I know you're going to love it!
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