Gut-Healing Greek Meatballs With 24-Hour Yogurt Tzatziki Sauce

24-hour yogurt sauce
24-hour yogurt sauce

Most of us know we should eat more 24-hour yogurt. After all, it’s one of the most powerful gut healing foods: each tablespoon of properly prepared yogurt contains 700 BILLION CFUs per cup.

That’s a lot of probiotics.

With that in mind, I challenged myself to come up with some new ways to eat 24-hour yogurt. (I also had a freezer full of ground meat from hunting over the fall and winter.) The result? Gut-Healing Greek Meatballs with 24-Hour Yogurt Tzatziki sauce.

This recipe sounds fancy, but even my kids ate it. (Maybe because they like anything you can dip!)

Making Your Own Meatballs

I love cooking (instead of baking), because with cooking you can sub stuff out easily without ruining the recipe.

Like if you don’t have fresh parsley, you can use dried. And if you don’t have dried? Just skip it entirely or sub some other herb. The recipe might taste a little different, but it will still turn out.

When I created this recipe, I built it around what I had on hand and what I can tolerate. That means this recipe is really versatile:

  • Use whatever ground meat you have around or like best (just avoid extra-lean ground turkey or chicken, or the meatballs will be very dry!)
  • Use fresh or dried herbs. If you’re using dried where fresh is called for, cut the amount in half. If using fresh when dried is call for, double the amount.
  • If you don’t tolerate eggs, just omit the egg. The meatballs will still come together – they may just crumble a bit more. You could also add a gelatin egg, but it probably isn’t necessary.
  • Garlic, coconut aminos, and a little tomato paste build depth of flavor. If you can’t tolerate any of these ingredients, just leave them out.
  • The grated onion is a great source of prebiotics and helps keep the meatballs moist. If you can’t tolerate onions, sub in ½ cup grated zucchini with the moisture wrung out instead.

And if you need to make some other modification – or have an idea of something else to add in – don’t be afraid to try it out.

These meatballs are inspired by Keftedes or traditional greek meatballs. However, traditional keftedes use milk-soaked bread to thicken the meatballs, and these meatballs are grain-free.

I’m no chef and don’t want to offend any Greek cuisine purists – so let’s just call these Greek meatballs 🙂

Use The Right Ingredients

Any recipe is only as good as the ingredients you use to make it.

Especially with simple recipes like these, high-quality ingredients really shine through.

For high-quality, affordable meat, we recommend Butcher Box.

And while you could use store-bought yogurt, this recipe is infinitely better (and more nutrient rich) when made with homemade 24-hour yogurt.

Yogurt making can seem scary, but with the right tools, it’s actually effortless. It starts with the right yogurt maker (this one is our favorite).

Here’s our complete guide to making yogurt at home.

You can use cow’s milk, goat, sheep – or even camel! But for the Tzatziki sauce, we don’t recommend coconut or almond milk yogurt. It just tastes a little weird.

If you’re worried you can’t tolerate milk yogurts, learn why 24-hour yogurt is different here.

How To Drip Your Own 24-Hour Yogurt (It’s Easy)

Have you ever wondered what makes “Greek” yogurt different from regular yogurt? The difference is that Greek yogurt has been “dripped” to remove the liquid whey and results in a  thicker yogurt.

You can easily drip your own homemade 24-hour animal milk yogurt to create Greek yogurt. Here’s how:

Ingredients & Tools

  • Prepared 24-hour animal milk yogurt
  • Clean cheesecloth
  • Twine or rubber band
  • Pitcher or bowl
  • Wooden spoon that is longer than the opening of your pitcher or bowl (so it can lay flat across the top)

Method For Dripping Yogurt

  1. Prepare animal milk yogurt following directions here.
  2. Lay out cheesecloth over the top of bowl or pitcher.
  3. Spoon or pour yogurt into the center of the cheesecloth.
  4. Use twine or rubber band to tie up the corners of the cloth with yogurt contained in the middle.
  5. Hang the cheesecloth bundle over the wooden spoon and lay the spoon across the top of the bowl so that the whey can drip away freely.
  6. Don’t squeeze the cheesecloth or wring the moisture out – allow it to drip out slowly into the bowl.
  7. The longer you allow the yogurt to drip, the thicker it will become. Dripping for 30 minutes – 1 hour will result in a greek yogurt consistency. You can leave the yogurt to drip overnight for a cream cheese consistency.

Pre- AND Probiotics

I know you’re probably ready to get to the recipe by now, but I just want to make a brief point about prebiotics and probiotics.

Probiotics are what you hear about all the time – they are the “good” gut bugs that are in fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut.

Prebiotics are like food for the probiotics.

When you pair prebiotic foods with probiotic foods, you get the most benefit from both.

For that reason, I really like to pair these meatballs and yogurt with cooked and cooled rice. Cooking and cooling rice increases the resistant starch content – meaning more prebiotics.

If you can’t tolerate rice (or avoid all grains very strictly) you could try cooked and cooled potatoes or cauliflower rice, instead.

(If you’re concerned about consuming safe starches like rice or potatoes, here’s a good resource for more information.)

Greek Meatballs With 24-Hour Yogurt Tzatziki Sauce

Ingredients For Meatballs

  • 1.5 lbs ground meat (turkey, chicken, grass-fed beef)
  • 1 medium onion, grated or minced
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill
  • ½ tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried cumin
  • ½ teaspoon dried cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste (omit if avoiding nightshades)
  • 3 dashes coconut aminos
  • 2 cloves minced or crushed garlic
  • Salt & Pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix gently to combine. Avoid over mixing or meatballs will be dense and dry. Gently shape into golf-ball size balls. Bake at 350°F for 18-22 minutes, or until cooked through.  

Ingredients For Tzatziki Sauce

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 cup 24-hour yogurt (goat, sheep, or cow), dripped (see above)
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill
  • Salt & Pepper

Grate cucumber on box grater. Wring out extra moisture using cheesecloth. Combine with all other ingredients and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with Greek meatballs or as a dip for crudites.

I hope you enjoy this recipe!

– Jordan

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