Zuke and Balls. Otherwise known as weekday lifesaver.
Life has been feeling incredibly busy the last few weeks, mainly by my own hand – but incredibly busy nonetheless. I have very quickly come to realize that I don’t truly enjoy being busy anymore, perhaps that’s just part of getting older. Years ago I could work three jobs, go to bed at unfavorable hours and be up to do it all again the next day; don’t forget the ease in skipping meals and yet never hearing myself utter unpleasant verbiage due to be hangry.
That is so far from my current reality.
The feeling of being completely exhausted not just because of late bedtimes and early mornings, but due to the sheer knowing that projects are due and deadlines are approaching. It’s bad news for me, bad bad news.
Luckily, generally being prepared enough with at least a batch of something (be it dandelion pancakes, falafel, or simply roasted veggies) is incredibly life saving. The beauty of having plenty of veg in the fridge also means that salads are pretty easy to throw together before heading straight out the door. Also, the ability to swirl a squash into a bowl of noodles in under two minutes is pretty dang outrageous. Enter the lifesaving Zuke and Balls.
In order to balance out the stress and remaining on-the-go weeks before things start to calm down and bedtimes can normalize (yes, I may be 27 going on 80);I have begun to make a list of 5-10 areas in my life that could use some optimizing. I’m calling it Optimal October. Some of the points on my list include putting myself out there and saying yes, enjoying at least 15 minutes of uninterrupted stretching daily, being over prepared with snacks on long workdays and being increasingly creative with my proteins + healthy fats. Simple things, little things. The things that make life seem more calm in the busy times yet push my boundaries and get me reflecting.
Another big one on my list is enjoying the autumn while it’s here. Autumn here in Alberta feels fairly fleeting, the leaves are big and bright green one moment, have turned the brightest of yellows the next and are scattered all over the ground in the blink of an eye. Just like that, it’ll be winter. I don’t want to miss the autumn, so with open arms I embrace the yellow leaves and the warmer comforting bowls of the cooler months.
Zucchini, thanks to a spiralizer (or slightly more labor intensive julienne peeler) become twirl-worthy noodles in a flash. Hip hip for a really simple raw option that tastes great, has a beautiful crispness and according to some in my family – I’m looking at you, mom – is the only way to eat zucchini. Now, the trick to ensuring this whole meal goes from fridge to bowl in record fast time – the balls need to be prepared in advance. Sauce too, if you’re making it from scratch. Let’s just say for simplicity sake you either have some in the fridge, cupboard or freezer and all you really need to worry about actually cooking are the balls.
If you know me, you know I praise batch cooking. So do that, and you will have the flashiest bowl of spaghetti and balls in no time. If you aren’t super into batch cooking or you don’t operate on being quite that prepared, have no fear! The balls themselves are pretty simple to throw together and cook up quickly.
- Optimize your October. Nothing crazy, no 30-day Push up Challenge (unless you want to!). Just a few simple ways you can make your life simpler, less hectic or a touch more prepped
- Get outside and soak up all the wonderful colours of autumn. The smells, the change in the wind, all of it.
- Don’t shy away from raw foods just because the summer is coming to a close. There are still plenty of ways to use raw fruits and vegetables in your daily meals
- Check out these bowls of autumn-y warmth for further inspiration! Elenore’s Warm Lentils & Pear Salad, Renee’s Creamy Miso Carrot Soup, Laura & Nora’s Beetroot Risotto & Sofia’s Zucchini & Warm Winter Squash Salad
- 1 Large Yellow Zucchini
- 2 Cups Cooked Green Lentils
- ½ Cup Walnuts - Soaked for 3 hours + drained
- ½ - 1 Cups Quinoa Flakes
- 2 Cloves of Garlic
- 1 Small Yellow Onion
- 1 Cup Sundried Tomatoes in Oil
- 1 Teaspoon Whole Cumin
- 2 Teaspoons Hot Smoked Paprika
- 1 Teaspoon Chili Flakes
- 1 Teaspoon Maple Syrup
- Tomato Sauce*
- Preheat the oven to 375, line a cookie sheet with wax paper
- Peel the garlic and the onion, halving both and putting them into a food processor along wih the lentils, walnuts, sundried tomatoes (reserve oil), cumin, paprika, chili flakes and maple syrup. Blitz until a meat like texture is achieved
- Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the quinoa flakes, starting with ½ cup and adding more as needed.
- Add a tablespoon of the reserved sundried tomato oil to the mixture, continue combining
- Once the mixture has reached meatball-like consistency, scoop out balls using a large spoon or an ice cream scoop
- Arrange each scoop on the prepared pan, bake for 25-30 minutes or until the outsides have crisped and the balls are soft but do not fall apart.
- Allow to cool on the stove top while spiralizing the zucchini
- To arrange - measure about a handful or two of noodles into bowls, topping with your favorite tomato sauce and a few warm lentil balls. For some added zing and healthy fat - drizzle the whole bowl with reserved sundried tomato oil.
*My favorite tomato sauce is one that takes a bit more time than I have allowed for lately, however I tend to keep a full tray of tomatoes around just in case I need them. The sauce is extremely basic, 10-12 tomatoes cut into halves or quarters baked at 325 for 2 hours with 5 cloves of garlic, an onion and a sprinkling of salt. Once roasted, blend in a blender and reduce to a thicker sauce consistency (as opposed do the primo tomato soup that it is at this point in the process). Often I will add pitted olives, thyme, basil, anything on hand with a bit of bite – right at the end.
With Love & Optimizing Momentum,