Happiness is Turkey Meatballs

August 18, 2019

“To protect what is wild is to protect what is gentle.  Perhaps the wildness we fear is the pause between our own heartbeats, the silent space that says we live only by grace.  Wilderness lives by this same grace.  Wild mercy is in our hands.”    ~ Terry Tempest Williams

Photo Credit – Paula – Baby Deer

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You know those people whose spirit lights up an entire room?

Meet Paula Bartholomy, Hawthorn University's Director of Online Events and Registrar.  As I interviewed her for the series, I couldn't help but think,  “What a beautiful person, who radiates joy.”  Her confidence, passion for helping others, and decades-long journey in holistic health were so inspiring.

I hung up the phone, wishing I could take her to lunch, and become lifelong friends.

Previously – She talked about her family's influence, the areas she's studied, and the disease she avoided working with for a very long time

Last time – We chatted about self-care, her wellness philosophy, seeking health-related truth in a world of misinformation, and the beautiful presence she brings to those at the end of their lives

Today – You won't want to miss her thoughts on our weight-loss culture, her health non-negotiables, (not-so-guilty) pleasures, and the most beautiful nightly ritual

(  ps: You can read more about Hawthorn University in Part I  |  Part II  |  Part III Part IV of the series )

Photo Credit – Readers Digest

Do you have any thoughts about the culture of quick-fix weight loss?

Quick-fix weight loss simply doesn't work in the long run, so I'm going to address the culture question.

It's our culture that supports this tragic concept, and while we're not alone, it's especially tough for women.  Too often we see our self-worth related to the number on the scale, the size of the clothes that we wear, what we see in the mirror's reflection, or what others project onto us.  So much of what we see in the media isn't real because it's has been Photoshopped or touched-up in some way.  A person's inherent worth isn't being addressed.  Then people, especially women, try hard to emulate and be like what they see on TV, in magazines, on-screen, etc.  But it's not possible, or healthy.

I come from a place of busting untruths, and addressing false beliefs is a huge part of my practice.  I've seen it transform people again and again.  We need to learn to listen to ourselves.  When I hear somebody say, “I'm not worthy,” I ask, “Is that true?”  It may be what you believe, but it's not true.  I'll take the false belief of “I'm not worthy?” and ask how does that feel?  Where do you feel that in your body?  Instead, I ask, how does it feel to say “I am worthy”  Repeating it again and again.  “I am worthy.  I am worthy.”  Believe it.

Other things I hear often are “My body is a burden.  I'm out of touch with my body's instincts.  I'm unprotected.  I'm unlovable.  I'm fat.  I'm fat.  I'm fat.”  Again, it's about busting false beliefs.  Asking good questions of my clients and me is really helpful because it leads to self-exploration and self-discovery.  When someone can identify a false belief in a specific area, we'll work with that to develop positive communication within.

When I realize it's happening to me, I think – “I don't believe that.  I don't want to be repeating that to myself!  Oh, my goodness!”  Change is easy for me when I recognize there's a need for change.  My challenge is seeing what needs to be addressed.  It's far easier for me to see that in someone else than within myself.  So I value other people's reflections of me too.

Photo Credit – Paula

If someone wanted to improve their health, what are two or three simple things they could do today that would have a lasting impact?

I may have more than one or two, but I'll try to narrow it down.  I think pledging self-love, kindness, and compassion is a starting place.

Daily intentions are helpful.  What's my highest intention for me today?  What's my highest intention for my meditation?  What's my highest intention for this interview?  What's my highest intention before I present a webinar?  What's my highest intention for the meals I'm going to prepare for myself today?

But simple things we can do?  Eat the colors of the rainbow of whole foods.  As fresh as possible.  More vegetables than fruit.  Engage in ‘forest bathing' and be in nature.  Move your body regularly.  Current research suggests exercise is the most important factor to support health and wellness .. movement, even more than food, more than environment.  So move your mind, emotions, and body!

Move it or lose it!

Even when you're at your busiest, what are your one or two health non-negotiables?

We don't find the time.  We make it.  For me, it's preparing my own food and mindful eating.  Conscious breathing, mindfulness, prayer, moving my body, and my mind.  Those are my non-negotiables.  But it starts with making my food because, without it, I can't do the other things.

Photo Credit – Paula – Peace Rose

Do you have any daily rituals?

It's going to vary, certainly.  But I begin and end my days with reflection and gratitude.  Night sky gazing is a big one for me because I'm drawn to that world, the sky and the expanse of it.  It's very soothing and calming to me and puts me in the perspective of what a speck I am.  How glorious the world and life is.  It takes me back into gratitude.

Do you keep a gratitude journal?

I have.  I don't now.  You know, I journaled for years, and in the last year, I've seen myself picking up a pen less and less.  Not chronicling my thoughts, but practicing being present.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Guilt is not an option.  Pleasuring myself is.  But if you're wondering if I like cookies, that's another question!

(Ali – Dark chocolate, maybe?)

Definitely dark chocolate, but I'm not guilty about it.  I remind myself of the health benefits of dark chocolate.  Have some occasionally.  Do I get some at the end of this interview?

What are you most excited about in the field of holistic health right now?

That more people are waking up and embracing these healthier approaches.  That's very exciting.  Functional approaches are back in vogue.  Meaning, we're addressing the whole person with personalized nutrition and medicine.  Really, it's that our voices are rising above the dogma.  That excites me.

( .. to be continued .. )

Today's recipe was inspired by Hawthorn grad, Rebecca Katz.

Over the years, I've written a dozen renditions of a meatball, but included here is the most concise for the sake of healthy weeknight dinners.  Tender meatballs filled with ricotta and herbs are classics in every way, except for one: they call for turkey instead of the usual beef (or a beef-veal-pork combination).

It's the kind of cooking the can be accomplished with only minimal attention.

Rebecca serves hers in slider form with pita pockets or buns, and that combination is definitely delicious.  Although, lately, I've been partial to meatballs.

It's nice to have the little nuggets in the fridge to dip in pesto or warmed in marinara sauce for an afternoon snack.  But honestly, they're great with anything, including a pile of roasted veggies, couscous, quinoa, or no grain at all.  A toasted bun for a meatball sub situation, over noodles, or even zucchini noodles can help fill out a larger meal.

I hope these make it to your weeknight repertoire.

A few notes about the recipe:

If you're able, use ground dark meat turkey; it has a deeper, richer flavor than white

Ground beef will be great if you prefer a more traditional meatball

For the breadcrumbs, I like the texture of day-old bread pulsed in the food processor best.  I realize this isn't always quick or available.  You can use a piece of sandwich bread, or panko as well.

For a gluten-free option, use gluten-free prepared breadcrumbs.  Also, I imagine the new “rice crumbs” from Trader Joes would be a success

Kite Hill makes dairy-free ricotta.  You could sub a sprinkle of nutritional yeast in place of the parm

Prep the meatball mix in advance and keep it stored in the fridge; the flavor gets better with a little rest.  Brown and warm the balls when you’re ready for dinner.

Double the batch and freeze them (after baking).  They come in handy when you need a quick dinner on the table, or something to deliver if a friend has just moved, had a new baby, etc.



ps:  You can read more about Hawthorn University and Paula Bartholomy in Part I  |  Part II  |  Part III  |  Part IV  |  Part V  |  Part VI Part VIII  |  Part IX  of the series

— — —

~ Adapted from Rebecca Katz

Happiness Is Turkey Meatballs


  • cup breadcrumbs
  • cup ricotta
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • a big handful of fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, chopped
  • pinch red pepper flakes, optional (more or less, depending on your tolerance for heat)
  • ½ tsp each, fine-grain sea salt + freshly ground black pepper
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 lb ground turkey (dark meat, and not super lean)
  • olive oil
  • 1 (24 oz) jar marinara sauce
  • mozzarella &/or parmesan cheese, for serving
  • Fresh basil or parsley, for serving



  • Combine the breadcrumbs, ricotta, and egg.
  • Add the garlic, herbs, and lemon zest. Stir to combine
  • Add the ground meat and combine, being careful not to over-work the meat. Chill for 30 minutes, or up to a full day in advance.

Cook the Meatballs

  • Form the meatball mix into small balls, (about 2”) and place them onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. 
  • Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large pot or sauté pan over medium heat. Brown the
    meatballs on all sides. Continue in batches, removing finished ones to your tray, and adding more oil as needed to keep a thin slick on the bottom. (They don't need to be cooked through, because they’ll continue cooking in the sauce)
  • Turn the heat to low. Return the browned meatballs back to the pot/pan. Pour the jar of marinara in, put the lid on ajar, and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, or until the meatballs and sauce have warmed through.
  • This is an optional step, but you can sprinkle some cheese over the top, and broil it for a few minutes for some crisp, cheesy topping.
  • Cook your noodles or zoodles according to instructions and serve with warm meatballs. Garnish with Parmesan and fresh herbs.
Serves: 6
Nutrition + Show
Calories 380
Total Fat 23.7g
Saturated Fat 6.2g
Carbohydrates 18.8g
Fiber 3g
Sugars 10.8g
Protein 25.4g
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