Anatomy of a Meatball

My food life has been a little challenging of late. I mentioned my perfect storm a couple weeks ago and all that I was learning about radical self care in the process of healing.

Yes, me – the self care queen – still learning.

My radical self care journey began in earnest the day I found this childhood photo. I took one look at my two-year-old self and I felt compelled to ‘mother’ this child. She later found her way onto one of my SoulCollage® cards which has a prominent place in my deck. She’s here to remind me to take exquisite care of myself and to stay close to my roots.


I am one who reminds you that love
is yours to give AND to receive.
Stay close to your roots.

The diet and nutrition piece of this journey has been interesting. In addition to an elimination diet where I removed just about every potentially inflammatory (and high histamine) food known to man, I was instructed to include more red meat in my diet to build up my iron levels. I have to tell you, this has been a challenge. I could happily live on fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, fish and eggs (which also had to go). And probably in that order. I thought chocolate was going to be the most difficult food item to let go of but no, it was tomatoes. My beautiful little homegrown tomatoes!!!!

Knowing this would be the food I’d want to reintroduce first (Mediterranean roots, you know?), I continued to slow roast these little gems all summer so that I would have plenty of vine-ripened tomatoes in my freezer for the winter months.

tomatoesslow roasted tomatoes


I thought you might be interested in a few of the ‘Conscious Bites Concepts’ I rely on heavily at times like this. Perhaps you can use some of them, too. For my well-nourished woman community, this will be a great review.


cauliflower-and-sweet-potroasted cauliflower, sweet potatoes & onions
with fresh herbs

Batch Cooking (Cook Once, Eat Several Times): Roasting vegetables is one of the easiest ways to stretch a meal. I like to cut up enough veggies to fill two baking sheets (toss in olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and roast in 400 degree oven until tender.) Then, I puree one batch with enough homemade vegetable or chicken stock to make a yummy blended soup with very little effort and I use the rest as a side dish or a topping on leafy green salads. And, if you’re like me and you get tired of eating the same soup all week, place a different combination of veggies on each baking sheet and make two different roasted vegetable soups.  Remember: Variety in the Diet, Simplicity in the Meal.

sweet-potato-soupmagic mineral broth makes a great base for truly nourishing soups

Smoothies Rock: I would be lost without my blender. This summer I made a real effort to prepare a breakfast smoothie at least four times a week. This is an awesome way to begin your day with a good portion of your fruit (1-3 servings) and vegetable (6-14 cups, measured raw) allotment, particularly when you’re trying to rebuild your immune system. The easiest way to accomplish this nourishment practice is to have a Ziplock® bag (or container) on your counter while you’re cutting up a dinner salad so that you can prep your smoothie ingredients at the very same time. Then, all you have to do in the morning is pop those veggies in your blender with some filtered water and freshly squeezed lemon or lime and you have an amazing smoothie. Note: You want your veggies to be FRESH not frozen.

BTW, not every smoothie needs to be ‘green’ to be nourishing. I encourage you to mix it up. Frozen fruit (especially berries!) along with some frozen banana slices and homemade nut milk or coconut milk = a super easy way to make a 10-minute antioxidant-rich smoothie when you are pressed for time. Add some cacao powder or carob powder (my new love) for additional nutrients. Remember our ‘Eat Your Way to Gorgeous’ concept regarding breakfast? Ask yourself this question: Is it vibrant? Does it vibrate? Your skin will glow if you add this practice to your nourishment menu. Best facial ever.

anything-goeslinks to my smoothie pages here & here

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor at Bay: You’ve heard this little cliche I’m sure, but did you know that apples and cinnamon are good for calming inflammation in the gut? I know, right? It’s ‘honey crisp’ season here and I can’t think of a better snack.


stewed-applesHomemade Applesauce

Change Your Mind: The single most self-sabotaging habit that I’ve observed in both myself and in my clients is a muddled mindset … a conversation (or story) that we have in our heads that we’re unable (or unwilling) to challenge. Things like I don’t have time to eat breakfast or home cooked meals are too much bother. I’ve encountered many more but I’ll share this one with you because it comes up a lot. A few of my clients have expressed that they are hesitant to prepare fresh fish because they don’t like the unpleasant odor it emits. I’m really curious about this because I cook fish at least once or twice a week and there is never an odor, at least not one that I can detect, particularly when I’m cooking it en papillote. Here’s what I’m thinking: the fresher the fish, the less likely there will be an unpleasant odor. It costs a little more but you want to purchase the best fish your budget allows, preferably wild-caught, sustainable, and high in omega-3 fatty acids (like salmon). If you can’t find quality fish locally, a great online source is Vital Choice Seafood. I prepared this fish recently with some of those slow roasted tomatoes. Thankfully tomatoes are back on my ‘approved’ list.

halibut_mediterraneanMediterranean Halibut

Stay Close to Your Roots: I mentioned my quandary over the need to add more red meat to my diet. Believe me, I have included EVERY iron-rich plant-based food to my repertoire for years; sometimes it just isn’t enough. Recently I delivered a SoulCollage® workshop in Wayne, PA and my lovely hostess took me to her favorite Italian restaurant for dinner. I ordered the meatball salad; it was AMAZING. I felt like my grandmother was whispering in my ear, “Try adding meatballs to your diet!” Why didn’t I think of that? Once again, cook once, eat several times. So now I am trying to duplicate her magnificent meatballs. Stay tuned, I’ve been collecting recipes from Facebook friends and relatives, I’m sure I’ll have the perfect meatball eventually but it may take a while. I’m fussy that way.

Meanwhile, I’m going to direct you to Dinner, A Love Story because I love this food writer and her meatball recipe looks pretty close to the one my grandmother made though, as many of you know, there was never ‘a recipe’ … just a little of this and a little of that until it ‘feels’ just right.

Note: I would definitely replace the shredded Parmesan cheese in this recipe with grated Pecorino Romano. Grandma would insist.


And, because I love a good story …

When I posted my meatballs on Facebook yesterday friends and relatives chimed in with stories they remembered from their childhood. One in particular just made me grin. My cousin Peter shared this:

“I remember a time when Aunt Connie came to watch us kids and we made spaghetti and meatballs. She had us knead the mixture, roll the meatballs, and then throw them to her at the stove to put them in the oil. She was such a hoot!”

Another childhood friend shared this:

“Seeing this picture triggers a memory of me sitting at that very table, facing that window and refrigerator, and your grandma encouraging me to eat the food she prepared. I don’t remember what it was but I was a picky eater and I needed prompting. She encouraged me with “Mangia, Mangia!” followed by ‘or else’ in Italian.”


And that got me thinking that perhaps the next evolution of my Luscious Legacy Project could be a “family package” where I bring families together to reminisce and construct their project in collaboration. What do you think? Is that something you would invest in? A structure, an LLP playbook, and perhaps even me orchestrating your story keeping. I think it would make an awesome holiday gift, don’t you? Stay tuned.

Okay friends, chime in below and tell me what this post ‘stirred’ in YOU.



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16 Responses to Anatomy of a Meatball

  1. Laura September 25, 2016 at 1:02 pm #

    I’m a huge believer in the cook-once-eat-many-times edict; as a kid I was picky, but as an adult, leftovers are one of my favorite things. After a fabulous dinner, I’ll sit at my desk at work the morning after just salivating at the thought of lunch. And I never cut up fruits or veggies only for what I need at that moment — it’s always so that I’ll have more to play with later. I haven’t gotten into making smoothies, but that’s mostly a logistics issue — I’ll get it sooner or later!

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason September 25, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

      A woman after my own heart … salivating at the thought of lunch and happy to chop those veggies fresh each and every time. For me, it’s a moving meditation. xxoo

  2. Mindy Sanjana September 25, 2016 at 5:30 pm #

    My sister-in-law has been here in the U S for the first time since 1992.I have been interviewing her for my next Luscious Legacy book. Both kids and my husband have contributed reminiscences. I’m very interested in how this will turn into “my” next volume. Suggestions welcome.

    • Sue Ann Gleason September 26, 2016 at 2:24 pm #

      Ohhhhh, that is such a good question, Mindy. I’m going to think about that. Exciting. xxoo

  3. Cami September 25, 2016 at 6:02 pm #

    So much goodness in this post. I’m happy to be reminded about roasting veggies, blend half for future soup. Cut up smoothie veggies while I’m making our dinner salad. I think I’ll print this and make myself a kitchen love note. Thank you!!! And I would love an llp book to bring to the holidays!! A deeper way to connect. And fun!!

    • Sue Ann Gleason September 26, 2016 at 2:25 pm #

      You were (are are) my inspiration for that, Cami. I am going to begin sketching that out on the bus to NYC this week. xxoo

  4. Penny September 26, 2016 at 5:14 pm #

    Yes, my kitchen practice is ‘cook once, eat many times’, and I find I do this particularly in the autumn and winter, and early spring, when casseroles, stews, and other warming foods are seasonal. Meatballs, I don’t eat them (veggie) but I just love making them! They are neat, each one is a little self contained parcel of taste and goodness, and I love the repetitiveness of rolling a great big batch of them, and dropping them in concentric rings into a huge pot of homemade, simmering tomato sauce, preferably with the radio playing in the kitchen, and the rain lashing the windows. So satisfying! Adorable photograph of your little self too Sue Ann X

    • Sue Ann Gleason September 26, 2016 at 6:21 pm #

      I see we share a love of richly repetitive kitchen tasks, Penny. I need to add the radio playing for the next batch and who doesn’t love a rainy day in the kitchen? xxoo

  5. Jena September 27, 2016 at 4:11 pm #

    This has got to be one of the most delicious blog posts I’ve ever read. You made me want to run to the farm and then the kitchen!

  6. Laura September 28, 2016 at 10:07 am #

    Your gorgeous photos make me want to eat, and your family stories, lovingly told, make me want to pull up a chair at your table. As I have just finished roasted a pan of veggies this morning, I was thinking what a simple, yet nourishing act. Thank you for the affirmation!

    • Sue Ann Gleason September 29, 2016 at 4:12 am #

      I’m so glad, Laura, thank you for reading and responding. xxoo

  7. rebecca@altaredspaces September 28, 2016 at 10:42 am #

    There is the most generous apple tree outside my bedroom window, under which the deer bed down at night. There are never any apples on the ground. The deer keep them cleaned up for me. 🙂

    Autumn is always the time for appley things: bread, sauce, dried, dessert and then I always cut some up for the freezer to drop in my smoothies. Thanks for all these recipes! I have so many beets and carrots in the garden. I love your ideas for roasting them up.

    Can’t wait to slow roast some tomatoes!

    • Sue Ann Gleason September 29, 2016 at 4:11 am #

      From peaches to Aspens to apples. I love following your seasons! xxoo

  8. Allison September 28, 2016 at 9:31 pm #

    Mmmm, your photos make me salivate. Thank you for the Conscious Bites nutrition review — simple, smart. I didn’t know we are supposed to eat “6-14 cups of veg, measured raw.” Good to know. I adore batch cooking and leftovers, smoothies, apples, and cooking close to my roots. As for “change your thinking,” maybe you can advise me on how to encourage my son to eat a more varied, nutritious diet. He would rather go hungry than eat something that does not delight him. I’ve tried so many things for him to eat . . . and thrown them away, uneaten. It’s very discouraging. Can you suggest a way I could change my thinking?

    • Sue Ann Gleason September 29, 2016 at 4:10 am #

      Great question, Allison. First, how old is your son? I have some great tricks up my sleeve but they have to be age-appropriate. The little ones are easy, I can “hide” just about anything in a chocolate smoothie (including beets!). #formerfirstgradeteacher

      Teenagers are a little trickier. They key is not evoking the rebel, but rather, making the “healthy stuff” so delectable they can’t resist. Admittedly this is easier said than done depending on the foodie sensibility of your son. I always begin with what they enjoy and then I see how I can ramp it up. I hope that helps. Could be fodder for a future post, thank you. I completely hear and understand how discouraging it is to cook for someone who would rather go hungry than eat something that does not delight him. That sounds like my husband! xxoo

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