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Chia Meatballs with Easy Marinara

Chia = nature's perfect binder.

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by Angela Gallardo in Lunch & Dinner, Recipes

These chia meatballs are made without egg or grain as a binder.  The chia bulks up with the moisture from the meat and helps the balls keep their shape.  A simple homemade marinara and spiralized fresh zucchini lets the meatballs shine as the star of this meal.

Chia Meatballs

Yields 14-16 meatballs

  • 1 lb. grass-fed ground beef (recommended no leaner than 85%)
  • 2 tbsp. organic tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp herbs de Provence (or your fave dried Italian herbs)
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 2 tsp. avocado oil, for sauteing


  1. Combine all ingredients except the avocado oil in a large bowl and stir well with a fork.   Let rest for 5-10 minutes so the chia can do it’s thing.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the avocado oil.
  3. Scoop 8 balls and pat into a round shape (I used a #20 disher).
  4. Cook meatballs until brown, turning on at least 3 sides.
  5. Move meatballs to a plate to rest (they will not be fully cooked but will finish cooking later in the sauce) and drain all but 1-2 tbsp. of oil from the pan.

Easy Marinara

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. white wine (or sub juice of 1 lemon)
  • 1/2 c. beef or chicken stock (homemade, if possible)
  • 1 can organic diced tomatoes
  • 1 can organic tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground pepper


  1. Add the diced onion to the large sauté pan with the residual oil from cooking the meatballs.  Saute until translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook 1-2 minutes.  Add the white wine and stock and scrape down any brown bits left at the bottom of the pan.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, and stir well.  Cook over medium heat until sauce begins to reduce and thicken, about 15-20 minutes (it should be at a strong simmer).
  4. Reduce the heat to medium low and gently add the meatballs to the outer edge of the pan.  Cook 5-10 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through to desired doneness (10 minutes will ensure no pink inside).

Serve over your favorite spiralized veggie (zucchini is pictured here because it’s still coming in my CSA box!).

chia meatballs


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  1. Ali Maffucci says:

    I love this giveaway! I also love that you’ve given zucchini noodles the spotlight here! What amazing photography, I’m so glad I found your site (via Foodgawker). I love spiralizing so much, I started a food blog dedicated to it. Can’t wait to try these meatballs!

    1. Angela Gallardo says:

      Thanks, Ali! So glad you found me! A whole site about spiralizing? That’s amazing. I’m OBSESSED with my spiralizer so I completely understand! 🙂 Good luck with the meatballs!

  2. Beth Rizer says:

    How would these meatballs do if I make them in bulk and froze them? Will it be ok with the chia seeds or will it not act right when defrosted? I’m totally excited to try these!!

    1. Angela Gallardo says:

      Haven’t tried freezing them, what a good idea! My best guess would be that since there isn’t a TON of chia, they wouldn’t behave too oddly when defrosted. That being said, you may be safer to get them cooking when they’re just partially defrosted. Hope it works out!

  3. GT says:

    What are the nutritional facts?

    1. Angela Gallardo says:

      Hey GT, I don’t post nutritional facts because the focus on my recipes is eating nutritious foods and not watching macros or counting calories. That being said, this calculator is a good tool for calculating it yourself:

  4. ChiQua25 says:

    I really enjoyed this meatball recipe. It was so easy and quick to make. Even my picky husband and son loved it and asked for more.

  5. Ilana Posner says:

    how long would you cook the meatballs if you did it in the crockpot? and is the T tablespoon and “t” teaspoon”

    thank you!

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