This recipe got me through my first Whole30, and is a staple on every one that I do. These meatballs (some call them poppers) can be eaten on their own as a meal or snack (especially when combined with a tasty Whole30-approved sauce), or can be the essential part of numerous quick-and-easy meals; for example, throw them on top of some zucchini noodles, pour some italian (or other) sauce on them and you have a quick spaghetti-like meal.
- 1 lb. ground chicken breast (or turkey, or whatever) (raw)
- 2 cup grated zucchini (leave peel on and squeeze out some of the liquid with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel)
- 2–3 green onions, sliced
- 3–4 tablespoons cilantro, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon cumin (optional)
- Optional (if pan-frying): avocado oil, for cooking (or coconut oil, or ghee)
In a large bowl mix together the chicken (or turkey, etc), zucchini, green onion, cilantro, garlic, salt, pepper, and cumin (if using). This mixture will be quite wet. Scoop meatballs with a small scoop or heaped tablespoon and gently smooth with your hands. You may yield anywhere from 16-28 poppers depending on how big you make them (typically 20-24).
I recommend cooking them on the stovetop by heating a drizzle of oil in a medium pan over medium-low heat. Cook six to eight of them at a time for about 5-6 minutes on the first side. Flip and cook an additional 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Make sure the centers are cooked through.
Alternatively, if you want to bake them, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle a little bit of olive or avocado oil onto a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake at 400 degrees 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through. If desired, place under the broiler for an additional 2-3 minutes or until browned on top.
As a snack: Serve with guacamole, salsa, or your favorite dip.
As a meal: Throw them on top of some zucchini noodles, pour some sort of Whole30-approved spaghetti or similar sauce over them, and microwave for three to five minutes (depending on your microwave). Tip: the zoodles don’t even need to be precooked - they’ll soften up in the microwave as a result of having the sauce on them.
It’s really important to squeeze the liquid out of the zucchini because it has a lot of moisture and they won’t stick together well if there’s too much moisture, or you may even scorch them when the wet meat goop hits the pan.
If you pan-fry them you don’t need much oil - just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. If you use a cast-iron skillet you’ll get a nice browning effect (use a low heat so that they’ll brown while still having enough time to cook through). But, if you want to bake them, that’s super convenient and fast. It’s up to you.
- Swap out any kind of meat you want: pork, beef, venison
- Instead of cumin (kind of Tex-Mex), swap in basil for more of a Mediterranean flavor.
- Or parsley and dill.