Guest Post: Plaid and Paleo, Cranberry Pesto Meatballs with Butternut Squash Mash

Today we welcome Vanessa of Plaid and Paleo to our blog to share a recipe AND a leftover remix recipe! We love that idea! We first connected with Vanessa on Instagram, and we also recently featured two of her gelatin recipes in our mega Gelatin Round up. Her blog is beautifully designed with great photography, and sweet, personal stories that go along with her recipes. 
Hi there! As a longtime reader and newly converted lover of bacon, I am so excited to be blogging on Paleo Parents today! While I don’t have kids, I have five nieces and nephews. I admire how Stacy and Matt engage their boys in eating healthy and helping cook. If you have a family or even if you don’t, it can be hard to find the time to cook.
When I first started eating Paleo, I would make huge portions of one meal and eat it for five days straight. This got old quickly, but I wasn’t sure how to change my habit. Between working long hours and attempting to squeeze in working out, I didn’t feel I had time to cook something new every night. Finally I reached a tipping point after eating meatballs for lunch and dinner a week straight. On day six, I decided to whip up a zucchini “hoagie” and have myself a meatball sub. I’m not sure what took me so long to realize leftovers don’t have to be boring. 
I love this recipe because it stems from this same notion. You are cooking two dinners in one setting. While both contain the same ingredients, they are still very different. You can cook the meatballs one night and store the leftover turkey for burgers the next night. If you want to get all the cooking out of the way, you can easily cook the burgers at the same time as the meatballs and reheat them the next night. This recipe serves two but can be easily doubled for a larger household!


Cranberry Pesto


  • 2 cups fresh basil, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 date, seeded


  1. In a small sauce pot, simmer cranberries in 3/4 cup water until all berries have popped.
  2. Add in date and continue to cook until sauce reduces to jelly-like consistency.
  3. In a blender, mix all ingredients for the pesto until smooth.

Cranberry Pesto Meatballs


  • 1 lb ground turkey thighs
  • 1/2 cup cranberry pesto
  • 2 tbls coconut ?our
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp ghee


  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except ghee. Mix well with your hands.
  2. Let sit for 10 minutes to allow the coconut ?our to be absorbed.
  3. Over medium heat, melt ghee in a large ?at-bottom skillet.
  4. Roll mixture into 10 1-inch meatballs.
  5. Cook covered for 4 minutes, ?ip and cook for another 4 minutes. Continue to cook until all sides of the meatballs are browned.

Butternut Squash Mash


  • 3 lb butternut squash, cut lengthwise
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbls coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper


  1. Turn oven to 400 degrees. Roast squash with flesh side down for 45 minutes.
  2. Once the squash in done cooking, carefully remove the skin with a knife and cut into large chunks.
  3. In a food processor or blender, mix all mash ingredients until smooth.

For the second night meal:

Form remaining turkey mixture into two burger patties with a small divot in the middle. Over medium heat, crisp two strips of bacon. Remove and cook burgers in bacon fat for about 7 minutes until sides start to brown. Flip and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve on top of remaining squash with a dollop of cranberry pesto and bacon. 


vanessa_plaidandpaleoConnect with Vanessa:








[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]A year after going Paleo, Vanessa started the blog Plaid and Paleo to simply stay accountable to eating healthy. It has grown into a full blown passion, where Vanessa posts new recipes multiple times a week. She is a lover of all things food especially unique combinations and anything ethnic. When she isn’t in the kitchen, you can find Vanessa reading a book, cheering on the KU Jayhawks or talking about how she should probably be at a yoga class.[/author_info] [/author]

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