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Low Carb Kitchen
January 2014



Lamb-Garbanzo Meatballs


The Low-Carb Kitchen: Lamb-Garbanzo Meatballs
By Dennis Linden

Over half of those over the age of twenty in this country, some 154 million, qualify as being overweight or obese. Another 29 million of us have Diabetes, many as a result of being overweight. Then there are another 23.9 million overweight children who are following the example of their XL adult role models. Diabetes and the extra pounds half of the population is lugging around costs this country billions in both medical and economic resources, not to mention the collateral damage these maladies cause to a person’s general health and mental well-being.

The most shocking part of the data just enumerated is that both conditions are very manageable, even preventable, with a few lifestyle tweaks. By maintaining a sensible diet in conjunction with some consistent, no matter how minimal, exercise we are all in total control of how much we each weigh. All diagnosed diabetics already know that the path to managing their weight and blood sugar levels starts in the kitchen. It’s so very trite, but we really do become what we eat. And, in truth, those lifestyle tweaks do take a bit of work and a lot of fortitude; that is, compared to eating everything in sight, not exercising and letting one’s own physical condition deteriorate to the point of affecting life expectancy. One simple way to start taking control is to make diet decisions based on the glycemic index GI and glycemic load GL of foods. Since being diagnosed with diabetes-2 some twenty years ago, these two scores have become the keel that guides my own meal plans.

Emphasizing low-GI foods in the diet definitely goes a long way in helping with weight loss and weight maintenance. For diabetics, a weight loss of 5–10% can result in significant improvements in insulin sensitivity, resulting in a decreased need for medications while still maintaining better control of blood sugar levels. Low glycemic index foods promote a slow to moderate rise in blood sugar and insulin as they are digested. Because of this, appetite is reduced and one’s metabolism is actually encouraged to burn body fat. Conversely, for those who are overweight, a diet of foods that score high on the glycemic index and load charts have been proven to actually increase appetite and impede effective fat oxidation.

Quickie Glycemic Primer:

The glycemic index of a food compares its effect on blood sugar level to that of pure glucose, which has a score of 100. White breads, made of processed white flour, is at the top of this scale, scoring a “perfect” 100 on the glycemic index. For perspective, a score 55 or below denotes a low-glycemic-index food; 70 or above is considered very high. Serving size is not a consideration of the Index.

The glycemic load, on the other hand, focuses on how much digestible carbohydrates a food contains in a typical single serving. For glycemic load, a score of 20 or more is high, while 10 or less is low.

One needs to pay attention to both glycemic scores because a food could have a high glycemic index in general, but, if very little sugar exists in a typical serving size, then its glycemic load may be low. For instance, most store-bought whole wheat breads average about 71 GI, but score a low 9 GL based on a one serving slice.

It is hoped that the dishes that are presented in this feature each month will inspire readers to develop the habit of quickly checking the Glycemic Index and Load of a recipe’s main ingredients before starting preparation. Enjoy what you eat, for sure; just limit the carbs to reduce waistlines and control blood sugar levels with each tasty bite!

Recipe

Lamb-Garbanzo Meatballs

Here’s a tasty version of the classic meatball, only served without the usual carb-packed pasta, which you will never miss. The garbanzo bean is a lot more than the main ingredient in that familiar summer salad dish and should be a part of anyone’s diet looking to shed some pounds. Being a food extremely high in fiber, research has proven that Garbanzo Beans, even when consumed only semi-regularly, will suppress appetite by giving one a full feeling quicker than most foods. In a recent study, participants on such a diet not only began to have no cravings for snacks in-between meals, but their overall intake of food decreased as they also started plating smaller portions for themselves at those meals.

The subtle flavor of Garbanzo Beans, aka chickpeas, pairs well with lamb; the purée acts as a tasty binder for the rest of the meatball ingredients. The seasonings for the meatball mix are my preferences, but all recipes are made to be tweaked. You can really add in any herb or seasoning of choice; in fact, a little chili powder added to the meatball mix and/or the dip gives this dish a pleasant peppery kick! What’s presented in the recipe below is meant to be built on – just watch those carbs in doing so.

There are two options to preparing the Garbanzo Beans: (1) soak dry beans for a minimum of 4 hours before boiling, or, (2) open two boxes of Melissa’s Peeled & Steamed Garbanzos, which are ready to use. Those four hours could be spent enjoying this dish, so go for our convenient package without sacrificing an ounce of flavor. Serve these meatballs as a stand-alone main entrée along with the delicious dip recipe included. For a carb-free side, keep things simple with a baby spinach salad dressed in a few onion slices and a tangy lemon vinaigrette.

Ingredients

Meatballs

Meatballs

½ cup Olive Oil
2 packages of Melissa’s Steamed Garbanzo Beans GI=10, GL=3
1 pound Ground Lamb
1 small Sweet Onion, chopped fine GI=10, GL=4
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 teaspoons Ground Cumin
1 teaspoon Ground Coriander
2 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
½ cup Italian Parsley Leaves, chopped fine

Dipping Sauce

Dipping Sauce


1 cup Greek-style yogurt GI=14/GL=5
1 Tablespoon Italian Parsley, finely chopped
1 Lemon, juiced (1)
2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Coriander Powder
Note: Ingredients without a GI or GL score denotes that the item contains little or no carbs.

Preparation

Meatballs:

Place Melissa’s pre-cooked chickpeas in a food processor and process until smooth.

Place Melissa’s pre-cooked chickpeas in a food processor and process until smooth.


Sauté the onion and garlic on low heat for 2 minutes, until soft.

Sauté the onion and garlic on low heat for 2 minutes, until soft.


Add cumin, coriander and cook for another 2 minutes or until fragrant. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine chickpeas, onion mixture, lamb, parsley, S&P to taste.

Hand roll about a tablespoon of the mixture into small balls, place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper.


Hand roll about a tablespoon of the mixture into small balls, place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

To avoid crumbling, refrigerate meatballs until thoroughly chilled before cooking.


To avoid crumbling, refrigerate meatballs until thoroughly chilled before cooking.

Bake in a pre-heated 375° oven for 25 minutes or until browned all over.

Dip:

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl; season with S&P to taste.