Have you ever been in the store and thought, what can I get that I can cook quickly and within the confines of my way of eating? I thought that just the other day. The frozen meatballs are right here in the store. They must be a home run, right? Or at least adequate.
What’s in a frozen meatball?
It probably depends on the brand. Some are probably better than others in terms of nutrition. Bread crumbs are a key ingredient in most meatballs, and therefore questionable for many dieters.
I stumbled across a package of frozen meatballs a few days ago.
I was impressed when I looked at the front of the package. There was a little thing that read, “no artificial flavors or colors. No preservatives.”
Great, I thought. This is going to be a meatball good enough for my eating habits. Meat (preferably beef), egg, maybe a trace of bread, Italian spices. I was willing to go with a trace of bread.
Meat, egg, bread crumbs, spices, and heat. That’s all you need right? Yeah, that’s all you need. Your grandma probably insisted on bread. Mine did. But you don’t even need bread–keep reading.
Were those basic ingredients all that was in this package? I turned to the ingredients label, sure enough…nope.
Those pesky ingredients
What I saw was far from a reasonable expectation, given what was on the front of the package.
- Pork: The first ingredient. Not beef, but good enough. Off to a decent start. I like pork.
- Mechanically-separated chicken: Not just chicken, but how it was prepared. That’s a little weird. To be honest, I definitely didn’t expect chicken in a meatball. A little less impressed already.
- Water: I can see this one being a necessity. I take no issue here.
- Textured soy flour: Things are starting to go off the rails. Textured soy flour is a low-cost, readily available substitute for beef. Instead of beef, you’re getting this mixture of chemicals. Of course, there’s the term soy. Touted as a wonder food, soy really isn’t. Stay away.
- Bread crumbs: To be expected, but not totally necessary. There are Keto-compliant alternatives to the meatball.
- Wheat flour: Just an unnecessary addition since you already have bread.
- Bleached wheat flour: As if wheat flour wasn’t enough, they had to add the bleached kind (along with its own chemicals).
- Leavening: A rising agent, such as yeast.
- Sodium bicarbonate: More commonly known as baking soda. Not bad.
- Sodium aluminum: Baking powder. What all is involved? Click here.
- Phosphate: You may know this as the stuff that’s mined near my hometown of Tampa and has a pronounced smell that can you notice anytime you’re downwind. This is how it’s used in food. Common in processed foods such as lunch meats and cheeses
- Dextrose: A sugar made from corn. More processing involved.
- Soy protein concentrate: Another soy product, and yet more processing.
These meatballs also: “contains 2% or less of beef, salt, parmesan and romano cheeses (made from cow’s milk, part-skim cow’s milk, cheese cultures, salt, and enzymes), dehydrated parsley, and flavorings.” Apparently, the makers of these meatballs were conscious of not overloading on things that aren’t chemicals–and wanted to make that abundantly clear in the list of ingredients.
Is there such a term as exponential processing? This would be a great example.
Have I given you enough to read about? Chemicals on top of chemicals, processing on top of processing. All of it unnecessary, save for mass-consumption.
Did you notice the total lack of egg among the ingredients?
The more I dig into our eating habits, the more I realize we (understandably) crave convenience. It’s more convenient to buy a bag of meatballs that don’t stick than it is to make meatballs and go through a preparation process.
Companies are simply catering to our preference for convenience and acting accordingly. We, as customers, come back to these companies with suggestions, and companies respond by going to the lab to make their product more convenient to mass-consumption.
I’m not naming names or telling you which products not to buy. That’s up to you.
Check the labels on everything you buy.
In this way of eating, there really are no shortcuts.
Stay away from those frozen, mass-produced meatballs. Make your own. There’s a number of recipes. It’s really all a part of meal prep.
- Delish‘s Keto Meatballs
- Simple Keto Meatballs, as featured on PerfectKeto
- Ditchthecarbs‘ creation with a mushroom sauce
- Grain-Free Comfort Food‘s Meatball Parmesan Casserole
Want just meatballs? No problem. Just skip the parts about sauce and casseroles.
These recipes keep to the basics of meat, eggs, salt, pepper, and select spices. That’s all you need.
When finished, let them cool to room temperature, then get them ready for the freezer.
Don’t want them to stick or fall apart? Wrap them individually in freezer paper, put them in a bag, then reheat in your own time.
For a plate of 6-8 meatballs, they should be ready in 75-90 seconds in the microwave at full power. Before microwaving, place a paper towel on top.
Eat up–and enjoy your own meatballs, knowing you’re eating real foods and not God knows what.
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Have your own meatball recipe? Have you tried one of the recipes linked in this post? Please drop a comment in the box down below.
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