Chia Seed Pork Meatballs with Spicy Ginger-Soy Glaze

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pork-chia-meatballs-with-spicy-soy-ginger-glazeDr. Oz ate my meatballs this morning.

Pause for dramatic effect.

Let’s back up for a second.

Last Thursday, I received an email from a producer at The Doctor Oz Show asking whether I’d like to participate in a segment they were doing on chia seeds. Needless to say, I was pumped. I obviously love chia seeds, but more importantly, I’ve been waiting 26 long years to make my television debut. SIGN ME UP.

After agreeing to be part of the segment, the producer called me to discuss the details. She was fabulous, but she spoke very fast, and I was moderately to severely confused during most of the call. What I took away from the conversation was that the segment would have six guests, and each guest would discuss a recipe using chia seeds. That sounded easy enough. Then she read me a long list and asked if I had done, or would be willing to try, various recipes/techniques involving chia seeds (i.e. using chia seeds to thicken soups, as a coating for fish or chicken, as an oil replacement, etc.). I told her that I was mostly just a fan of chia seed pudding, but that I would happily tackle “chia seeds as a binder in meatballs.” Meatballs rock.

I hung up the phone, dropped all of the busy and important things I was doing, and immediately commenced chia meatball experiments. Priorities! A few hours later, Chia Seed Pork Meatballs with Spicy Ginger-Soy Glaze were born. They were truly magical little balls (I ate seven to be sure), and I was very excited to share this recipe with Dr. Oz and my his legions of adoring fans.

pork-chia-meatballs-with-spicy-soy-ginger-glaze-2Just as I was about to send in my recipe, I received another email from the producer. Subject: CHIA CHALLENGE. The word “challenge” did not sit well with my panic disorder, and the body of the email was even worse. “Please bring your chia creation to set for Dr. Oz to taste on the show. The winner will have their recipe posted on the Dr. Oz website as the recipe of the month.” UGH. I was clearly at a disadvantage, since bringing chia meatballs to the set first thing in the morning would be weird and gross. If I were Dr. Oz, I would be very angry with the person that forced me to eat cold meatballs at 8am. Just saying.

In order to combat my anxiety, I created an elaborate fantasy of exactly how CHIA CHALLENGE would play out. This is what I pictured…

I arrive on set perfectly coiffed, armed with a Tupperware of warm balls (sorry), a conservatively sassy selection of tops for wardrobe to choose from, and the confidence of a thousand Beyoncés. A trained makeup artist works her magic on my dark circles, I do not sweat through my shirt or have any panic attacks, and when I walk on stage to beat out my Chia Challengers, I’m as cool as a vodka-soaked cucumber. I was born for this.

Dr. Oz enters to introduce me and my chia nemeses, and amidst the chaos in the studio, he catches my eye. After surveying the chia dishes before him, he winks surreptitiously at me, as it’s obvious that my chia creation blows the others out of the water. When he finally tastes my meatballs, Dr. Oz nearly faints from the deliciousness, but he’s a professional and manages to pull it together long enough to declare me the victor of Chia Challenge!!!

Still not sweating, I accept my win by graciously chest-bumping Mehmet (we’re already on a first name basis at this point), hugging audience members and doing this dance. I spike a few of the winning meatballs on the floor for good measure. People are simultaneously shocked and enamored with my clear enthusiasm for both chia seeds and entertaining television. When the taping is over, Dr. Oz takes me under his wing and asks me to be his resident culinary expert. He thinks I’m the smartest, prettiest, funniest person he’s ever met, and he wants to be my Oprah.

It’s the best day of my life. 

pork-chia-seed-meatballs-with-spicy-ginger-soy-glaze-6That is not what happened.

I arrived at the Dr. Oz set at 7:55am this morning bearing a fresh batch of chia meatballs that I baked at 5:45am because I am nothing if not competitive. I was brought to a dressing room with my fellow “chia ladies,” where the producers briefed us on exactly what we would be doing during the segment and then left us to our own devices for two and a half hours. Given that much time to ponder all the things I could potentially screw up was painful. (I mostly kept reminding myself not to say, “I love balls!!” on national television.) Truth be told, there were times when I got pretty sweaty, which was not ideal since my fantasy makeup artist did not exist in this version of events.

The good news is that the producers decided to remove the competition element of the chia seed segment. Instead of fighting to the death, each of us simply had to say a few sentences about how we used chia in our creation and call it a day. HALLELUJAH. (This development made making friends in the dressing room significantly easier.)

When it was finally time for my debut, I was taken back stage, mic’d up, and given a blown-up photograph of my meatballs to hold. Fancy. The chia troop was led on stage, and then it was lights, camera, action! Dr. Oz ate my meatballs. I smiled and sold those gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg-free wonders like it was my job. The audience clapped. And just like that, it was over.

pork-chia-seed-meatballs-with-spicy-ginger-soy-glaze-7While I didn’t win anything, chest-bump Dr. Oz, or get offered a job, I feel pretty great about today. Maybe not “best day of my life” material, but it was definitely the best day in a while. Baby steps.

You know what else I feel pretty great about? My meatballs. THESE MEATBALLS ARE DANK. And I swear on Logan’s chest hair that I’m not just saying that for the sake of Dr. Oz. These tender little pork miracles are ridiculously juicy and bursting with flavor, and the ginger-soy glaze is the perfect sweet-and-spicy finishing touch. Instead of eggs and breadcrumbs, I used chia seeds to bind these balls, which was a glorious discovery. They kept the balls moist (sorrrrrry!) and held them together without weighing them down or dulling their flavor. Plus, the seeds add tons of badass health benefits.

I like to serve my chia seed pork meatballs over some stir-fried vegetables for maximum nutrition, but you could also try them with quinoa, brown rice or noodles, or banh mi-style in a sandwich. Oh, and for the record, you can use chia as a binder in any type meatballs, friends. Just add 2 tablespoons of chia seeds per pound of meat. And in case you were worried, you won’t actually taste the chia seeds, and no, they won’t give your meatballs a weird texture. I promise.

NOTE: If you forgot to DVR The Dr. Oz Show today, don’t panic. My segment won’t air until some point next week. I will obviously publicize the event, but you should probably start following me on Facebook and Twitter so you don’t miss such groundbreaking announcements…

Chia Seed Pork Meatballs with Spicy Ginger-Soy Glaze: (Serves 4-6)

1 pound ground pork
3 cloves garlic, minced
1½ teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1/3 cup minced yellow onion
¼ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1½ tablespoons low-sodium tamari
2 tablespoons chia seeds
For the glaze:
¼ cup low-sodium tamari
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce

Preparing your Chia Seed Pork Meatballs with Spicy Ginger-Soy Glaze:

-Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper and set aside.

-Place all the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl.

pork-chia-seed-meatballs-with-spicy-ginger-soy-glaze-step-1-Using your hands, mix all of the ingredients until well combined. (Kind of gross, but kind of fun.)

pork-chia-seed-meatballs-with-spicy-ginger-soy-glaze-step-2-Cover and refrigerate the pork mixture for 20 minutes to allow the chia seeds to work their gelling magic.

-Use your hands to mold the pork mixture into 1-inch meatballs, and arrange them on the prepared baking sheet, making sure they aren’t touching. (You should have approximately 20 meatballs.)

pork-chia-seed-meatballs-with-spicy-ginger-soy-glaze-step-3-Transfer the meatballs to the oven and bake for 20 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through.

pork-chia-seed-meatballs-with-spicy-ginger-soy-glaze-step-4-In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients for the glaze. Pour the glaze into a large non-stick pan over medium heat. When hot, add the meatballs and toss to coat.

pork-chia-seed-meatballs-with-spicy-ginger-soy-glaze-step-5-Serve meatballs warm over your stir-fried vegetables or noodles of your choice.

pork-chia-meatballs-with-spicy-soy-ginger-glaze-3, pinthis


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  1. Lisa S on September 18, 2020 at 8:54 pm

    I know this is an old recipe but I can’t tell you how many times I come back to it and make it. It’s my favorite use of ground pork which I’m lucky enough to get from a local farm who raises animals the way they’re meant to be raised, I’m going to throw some jasmine rice in the instantpot while these are cooking.

    • Serena Wolf on September 18, 2020 at 10:23 pm

      Ahhh I’m so happy that these meatballs have gotten so much love in your kitchen!!

  2. Tanya Richburg on August 10, 2020 at 2:13 pm

    These look and sound delicious! How many carbs do they contain? Net carbs.

  3. steven9726 on April 15, 2016 at 8:52 am

    I am going to try chi seeds on ice cream— something simple and spur of the moment thing

  4. Amy Materka on October 23, 2015 at 5:55 am

    This is seriously good writing! Am trying out the recipe today looks yummy!

    • Serena_Wolf on October 23, 2015 at 10:48 am

      Thank you, Amy! Hope you dig them!

  5. Meredith Eng on June 24, 2015 at 11:14 am

    I liked these! I sadly had to use turkey instead of pork because my grocery store didn’t have any pork so they were a little bit dry, but definitely still delish.

  6. Mrscomo on September 24, 2014 at 8:03 am

    Made these last night and they were excellent! To the glaze I added some sesame seeds to further give it a little Asian look. Fantastic – will definitely be making these again!

    • Serena Wolf on September 24, 2014 at 10:25 am

      So happy they were a success! Love the sesame seed addition.

  7. zipporah on June 12, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    These were delicious… I even almost followed the recipe (unheard of for me). I made a double batch with ground pork and ground bison (what was in the freezer). A single batch of the glaze was just barely enough to give the double batch of meatballs a very light coating.

  8. Amy Williams Cooper on April 28, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Can you post the carb,protein,fat and fiber amounts for this recipe please

  9. Heather C. on April 16, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    Can these be frozen at some point?

    • Serena_Wolf on April 16, 2014 at 2:46 pm

      I haven’t actually tried it yet, but I think these would freeze very well! I would suggest freezing them in their raw form and then baking/glazing the meatballs right before serving.

      • Heather C. on April 16, 2014 at 3:52 pm

        I’ll try that – thanks!

      • Heather C. on June 4, 2014 at 8:58 am

        I made these Sunday night for dinner and didn’t even have to worry about freezing them. The only change I made was I used ground turkey I had on hand instead of pork. My husband gobbled them up like they were stuffed with bacon and cheese. His eyes actually glazed over when he tasted them, I didn’t even have to ask if he liked them. Thank you for coming up with delicious recipes I can feed my husband that makes us both happy!

  10. disqus_fMrLlCV73v on March 17, 2014 at 10:28 am

    How many calories in this. It looks and sounds terrific but I need to know the calorific content.

    • Serena_Wolf on March 17, 2014 at 11:00 am

      If you use lean ground pork, it should be about 220 calories per serving (5 meatballs). Hope that helps!

      • disqus_fMrLlCV73v on March 17, 2014 at 11:39 am

        Thanks, Serena. Maybe add another 50cals for the honey, chia seeds etc.

    • Christellar on April 4, 2014 at 1:26 pm

      You could probably use ground turkey to go even leaner?

      • Serena_Wolf on April 4, 2014 at 1:34 pm

        Definitely!! I’ve made these with ground turkey, and they’re delicious. However, I recommend using 93% lean (vs 99%) meat. They need a tiny bit of fat to keep them juicy.

        • Christellar on April 7, 2014 at 5:05 pm

          great point, I’m going to give this a try! lovely photos too BTW 🙂

    • Gina on January 15, 2015 at 5:14 pm

      Look it up on the web. There are all sorts of sites where you enter the ingredients and they calculate the calories in the batch for you. (I like this one: caloriecount(dot)about(dot)com) Then you divide it into the number of portions. Simple!

  11. Caroline @ shrinkingsingle on March 16, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    Congratulations! These look fantastic. I love a good meatball.

    • Serena_Wolf on March 17, 2014 at 10:50 am

      Thanks, Caroline!

  12. Dixya Bhattarai RD on March 11, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    I need these ASAP. and looking ffwd for your segment.

    • Serena_Wolf on March 12, 2014 at 9:51 am

      Thanks, Dixya!!

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