October Healthy Cooking Class Recipe

CYO Nutrition Education: October 2012

Whole Grain Spaghetti with Homemade Sauce and Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs is one of the easiest meals to ensure a full range of nutrients. Whole-grain noodles are a complex carbohydrate that stabilize blood sugar. The sauce cooks tomatoes with oil to release lycopene, a cancer-fighting phytonutrient. The small servings of lean turkey meat give just enough protein to build fat-burning muscle. Your family can make a big pot of this Sunday and eat it through Wednesday! Add all kinds of toppings: shredded veggies, olives, beans, even eggs! The toppings are really where kids can customize this recipe to their exact specifications. Totally tasty and little-kid-friendly, the basic version of this spaghetti and meatballs features spinach, herbs, lean meat, and whole grains in one nutritious bowl.

Spaghetti and Spinach for Four

4 servings


·       1 16 ounce package whole-grain spaghetti

·       1 teaspoon salt

·       6 cups water or low-sodium vegetable broth

·       3 handfuls spinach


1.     Bring the water to a boil. Measure in the salt and carefully add the noodles. Cook as directed on the noodle package.  

2.     Meanwhile line a colander with the spinach. When the noodles are ready to drain, slowly pour the water over the spinach until all the cooking liquid is gone. Don’t shake out too much liquid from the colander, though, because keeping just a little bit of cooking liquid on the pasta helps the sauce stick! Pour the noodles and spinach back into the pot.

3.     Stir some salt and pepper into the noodles and spinach. Ladle into separate bowls. Pour on a cup of Simple Brightest Tomato Sauce and stack three Tangy Turkey Meatballs together for a yummy dinner for all seasons.

Simple Brightest Tomato Sauce

Yields 2 cups

·       1/2 yellow onion, medium dice

·       2 cloves garlic, slivered

·       ¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons olive oil

·       14 ounce can crushed tomatoes

·       2 sprigs basil, chiffonade

·       Zest of 1 lemon


1.     Heat a sauce pot on medium heat. Add a couple tablespoons oil and once that’s hot, cook the onions until they earn a golden brown on the sides.  Add the garlic and cook til the garlic gets some color and becomes fragrant. Don’t overcook the garlic or it becomes bitter!

2.     Pour the can of tomatoes into the pan. Turn the heat to high and watch the sauce get hot and bubbly-- this is air escaping and evaporating some of the liquid with it. Keep the sauce at a high simmer until it reduces by one third. This process will cause the flavor to concentrate into solids and intensify by one third!

3.     Stir in the basil in the last five minutes of cooking. Lower heat to a bare simmer until ready to serve. Sprinkle with lemon zest before serving.

Tangy Turkey Meatballs

Rolls 10 – 15 Meatballs


·       2 sprigs rosemary, minced

·       1 red onion, minced

·       2 cloves garlic, minced

·       1 Tablespoon minced parsley

·       ½ teaspoon dried oregano

·       1 ½ Tablespoons Dijon mustard

·       ¼ cup corn meal

·       1 egg, whisked

·       Salt and pepper

·       ½ pound ground turkey meat

·       1-2 Tablespoons canola oil for cooking


1.     Make sure all your minced ingredients are chopped as small and fine as you can cut them. The texture of finely minced ingredients helps the meatballs maintain their shape as they cook. Mix everything together in a large bowl or if you like, you can combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is uniformly sized.

2.     Ready a pan on the oven at medium high. Add a tablespoon canola oil to the pan and let it heat up. While you are waiting for the pan to heat, form the meatballs. Take a tablespoon-sized scoop into your hands. Pat and form it into a ball shape.  Roll it in your palms to smooth out the shape then carefully drop it into the pan on the stove. Repeat with the remaining mixture.

3.     Let the meatballs cook on one side for about two minutes, then roll them to the opposite side to cook for a couple more minutes. After two sides have been cooked, you can gently roll the meatballs around the pan until they are cooked all the way through, about 15 minutes. Remove to a paper towel and let the excess oil drain off. Serve while warm.

To Assemble: Mix the sauce in with the noodles and spinach. Sprinkle some lemon zest on top and dust with grated parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast. Lay the meatball on top and enjoy.


Aversion to tomatoes? You can still get a dose of those cancer-fighting phytonutrients by making a Red Pepper sauce instead! Start by parboiling some red peppers then roasting them in the oven til the skin can easily peel off. Blend the roasted peppers with some minced onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes til it’s smooth. You can gently reheat and serve this as you would the tomato sauce.

Roasted Brussels are a delicious and nutritious topping here. Cut some sprouts in half and wash thoroughly by submerging in water with 1/3rd apple cider vinegar. Dry them off and toss with olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper. Lay the sprouts out on a parchment-covered baking sheet and roast at 500 for 12 minutes. Flip them over and roast another 5 minutes. They are done when they have a rich brown color with NO charring. Serve hot!

Create a colorful and nutrient-dense dinner with an accompanying quick spinach salad. Wash a couple handfuls spinach. Pat them dry and add to a bowl with chopped red bell pepper, a little diced onion, some sunflower seeds, and 4 or 5 raisins per serving. Squeeze and zest a lemon over the salad and toss it up with olive oil and fresh black pepper. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Breakdown!

Turkey—good source of high-quality, low-fat protein. Other than water, protein is the most abundant component of our body. Amino acids are famously the “building blocks” of protein. During the course of a single day, our body breaks down a pound of protein into amino acids then reassembles those acids into new proteins. The new proteins are what form our hair, muscles, skin, tendons, and other body structures. Some of these new proteins will function as enzymes, hormones, and even genes! The process of breaking down proteins and building new ones is essential to our body’s ability to grow and internally defend ourselves. Turkey has sixty-five percent of your daily protein needs in a four ounce serving. 

Whole Grains—essential source of carbohydrates and fiber. “Whole” grains are grains that have not had the bran and germ removed in the act of processing them for longer shelf life. Let’s first examine the benefits of retaining the bran and germ! This is a topic and a diagram we will frequently return to over the year.

Bran- this is the outer portion of the grain which consists of tissues between the outer seed coat and a layer called the aleurone. The bran is removed during processing, which is unfortunate since it supplies most of the fiber in whole grain foods.

Endosperm- this is the storage compartment of the grain. It is composed primarily of protein and carbohydrates. Refined grains are white because once the bran and germ is removed, the endosperm is all that remains and even then, it is bleached to a “purer” white. This removes any nutrients that were present and is why you see refined grain products that have been “enriched” with synthetic vitamins.

Germ- contains sprouting mechanisms of the grain. Vitamins, trace minerals, and phytonutrients (those cancer-preventing plant compounds) abound in the germ.


Whole grains are a critical part of any growing kid’s diet! And they continue to be a critical part of any adult’s diet! The whole family has to consume whole grain flours, breads, cereals, and grains to ensure everyone gets the fiber, complex carbohydrates, and nutrient profile that they promise.

Local Farmers Markets

Ferry Plaza Farmers Market: Year Round!

1 Ferry Plaza (Embarcadero):  Tuesdays 10 – 2; Thursdays 10 - 2; Saturdays 8 - 2

Saint James, Saint Anthony’s

Mission Community Market: Bartlett Street between 22nd and 21st: Thursdays 4 -8

Saint Paul’s

Noe Valley Farmers’ Market: 3861 24th street: Saturdays 8 - 1

Saint Finn-Barr

Glen Park Market: Parking Lot of Glen Park Bart Station: Sunday 10 -2 (thru 11/25/2012)

Good Shepherd

Half Moon Bay: Shoreline Station: Saturdays 9 – 1

Pacifica: Rockaway Beach: Wednesdays 2:30 -6:30

Zion Lutheran

Parking Lot between 8th and 9th Avenue, South of Irving:  Sundays 9 – 1

Kaiser Farmer’s Market: 2525 Geary at Saint Joseph’s street: Wednesdays 10 – 2:30

Saint Vincent de Paul

Fort Mason Center: Marina & Buchanan:  Sundays 9:30 - 1:30



 *Photo Credit: http://www.okiedokieartichokie.me