Winter Minestrone with Sausage, Kale, and Basil Pistou

Winter minestrone with sausage, kale, and basil pistou is guaranteed to become one of your family's favorite soups!

We’re having a January cold spell, and right now the temperature outside is a whopping 6 degrees. Which means my family wants nothing but soup for dinner. One of our all-time favorites is this winter minestrone with sausage, kale, and basil pistou. It’s packed with bold flavor and healthy veggies.

This red, green and white soup is a Christmas Eve tradition in our family, so sometimes I call it “Christmas minestrone.” We usually don’t have a heavy dinner Christmas Eve, because we’ve already stuffed ourselves at an annual family party during the day. After celebrating with a million and one relatives, we go home, make some minestrone, and play board games until it’s time to hang our stockings.

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Korean Beef and Noodle Stir Fry

Korean beef and noodle stir fry - This healthy, quick and easy beef and noodle stir fry is flavored with a Korean-style cooking sauce.

Every week, as I plan my dinner menus, I ask the family what they would like to eat that week, and my son Jake usually asks for this Korean beef and noodle stir fry. Jake is our only son and youngest child. He was born in South Korea, and he has been an adopted member of our family since he was 12 months old. He is a terrific kid, and I’m incredibly lucky I get to be his mom. Jake is proud of where he came from, and maybe that’s the reason he loves this dish. Or maybe he just loves it because it’s so tasty. 

This quick and easy stir fry has the flavors of bulgogi, a marinated grilled beef that is one of Korea’s signature dishes. A bulgogi-style marinade becomes a cooking sauce for a stir fry of ground beef, Napa cabbage, noodles, edamame and green onion, for a quick and easy weeknight dinner. I would describe this dish as a glorified hamburger helper, but it’s a whole lot tastier and better for you.

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Crock-Pot Turkey & Spinach Meatballs in Marinara

Turkey & Spinach Meatballs in Marinara

Is there any comfort food quite like spaghetti and meatballs? It’s hearty, rich, and carb-o-licious, but unfortunately quite fattening and high in calories. That’s why I love this recipe. It transforms pasta and meatballs from a treat for special occasions to a weeknight dinner perfect for your regular recipe rotation.


This recipe is much lighter than your standard meatballs and marinara, but still packs a powerful flavor punch. Turkey is lower in calories and fat than sausage or beef, and these meatballs are packed with just the right amount of spinach: enough that you get a good serving, but not enough that that your kids will turn their noses up at their plates. 

This recipe is also much less labor intensive than your typical meatball and marinara recipe, because it’s made using my favorite kitchen appliance – the Crock-Pot. Prep the meatballs and sauce in the morning, set your Crock-Pot for 8 hours and dinner is ready to go!


I’m always on the lookout for weeknight dinners under 500 calories and this one fits the bill. One serving of my favorite whole wheat pasta is 190 calories + 127 calories for 3 meatballs (only 43 calories per meatball!) + 93 calories for 1 cup of marinara+ about 30 calories for garnish comes to a grand total of just 440 calories.


Because this recipe serves 7, it makes enough to serve my small family 2 meals instead of just one. My husband usually takes leftovers to work for lunch the next day, and I use the leftover meatballs and sauce to make slimmed-down meatballs subs the next evening.


I generally serve these meatballs with one of my family’s favorite pastas (we’re partial to vegetable farfalle and whole wheat penne over here) and a light, green side salad or my mom’s famous Slimmed-Down Roasted Broccoli. If you’re watching carbs you can omit the bread crumbs (I’ve done it and it works well-also makes the recipe gluten free) and serve with spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles instead of traditional pasta.



Crock-Pot Turkey & Spinach Meatballs in Marinara
Serves 7
A deceptively healthy alternative to traditional spaghetti and meatballs; savory, comforting, and packed with veggies.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
8 hr
Total Time
8 hr 15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
8 hr
Total Time
8 hr 15 min
326 calories
16 g
129 g
17 g
30 g
4 g
334 g
1014 g
9 g
0 g
10 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 326
Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 17g
Saturated Fat 4g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 129mg
Sodium 1014mg
Total Carbohydrates 16g
Dietary Fiber 4g
Sugars 9g
Protein 30g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
For the Meatballs
  1. 1 ½ lb 93% lean ground turkey
  2. 2 cups frozen spinach leaf
  3. 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  4. 1 egg
  5. ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
  6. 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  7. 1 teaspoon salt
  8. ½ teaspoon pepper
  9. 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
For the Sauce
  1. 2 28 oz cans diced tomatoes
  2. 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  3. ½ small onion, diced
  4. 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  5. 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  6. 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  7. 1 ½ tablespoons Italian seasoning
  8. 1 teaspoon dried basil
  9. 1 teaspoon salt
  10. ½ teaspoon pepper
  11. ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  1. shredded Parmesan, if desired
  2. fresh basil, if desired
  1. Combine diced tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, Italian seasoning, dried basil, salt, pepper, garlic, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, and balsamic vinegar a slow cooker. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth.
  2. Defrost spinach in microwave (mine takes 4-5 minutes on a very low setting, but times will vary) and squeeze dry of excess water.
  3. Combine turkey, spinach, bread crumbs, garlic, salt, pepper, egg, smoked paprika, and parsley in a large bowl, and mix with your hands until combined. Use a 1/8 measuring cup to measure out portions of the turkey mixture and roll into balls.
  4. Carefully place each of the meatballs in the sauce. Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
  5. If possible, gently stir mixture every few hours. If not, stir the mixture after its finished cooking and serve immediately.
  1. Total Cost: $9.26 Cost Per Serving $1.33
Crock-Pot Turkey & Spinach Meatballs in Marinara