Tamarind Chipotle Lean Turkey Meatballs

The emphasis in fueling for endurance training has typically been focused on carbs. Carbs are the primary fuel source when you are running, biking, or swimming for an extended period of time. They take the least amount of energy to process and your body is good at quickly and efficiently utilizing them to keep you moving. But as more and more research suggests, protein is just as important to the endurance athlete.

Protein helps with rebuilding broken down muscle tissue and increases satiety leaving you feeling satisfied with less food. But that’s not its only benefit. Protein is a major player in immunity, hormones, enzymes, sleep, and digestion. How much do you need? For endurance phases of training, 0.8-1.0 grams of protein/lb/day. For non-training days, 0.75-0.8 grams of protein/lb/day, and in strength/power phases of training, 1.0-1.2 grams of protein/lb/day. These recommendations were taken from ROAR, by Stacy Sims, and if you want to know more I highly recommend this book!

ROAR by Stacy Sims

Anyway the best way to meet your protein goals is to get it from a variety of different sources. There are 20 different amino acids, 11 of which the body produces itself. The other 9 you must obtain through foods. Complete proteins like meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products contain all 9 of these essential amino acids whereas incomplete proteins like nuts, whole grains, and vegetables only contain a few. Combining incomplete proteins like red beans and rice you can form complete proteins. This fact is essential for those on a vegetarian or vegan diet.

My game plan is typically to include a protein source at each of my meals. At breakfast I typically have whey protein with my cereal, lunch is all-natural chicken or smoked turkey deli meat, and at dinner I typically have some type of lean meat or eggs. Lean meats have the stigma of being bland but to me that is the perfect opportunity to add whatever flavor I like. Ground turkey is one such example of a lean meat that lacks a bit in flavor, especially compared to its counterpart ground beef.

So when I picked up the ground turkey at the store, I knew exactly what to do with it. I had been dying to use my tamarind sauce from the Apex food company, and this would be the perfect way to use it. By adding Zukti, the tamarind Sauce from the Apex Food Company, to my ground turkey I could create a healthy source of protein for my meal without sacrificing flavor and without adding artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives or high-fructose corn syrup (found in many commercially sold sauces). The sauce only contains 6 ingredients with its main component being tamarind. Tamarind is not widely used in the US but it has a lot of benefits including blood sugar reduction, antibacterial properties, and improved cholesterol and heart health!

Zukti Tamarind Sauce by the Apex Food Company!

Zukti Tamarind Sauce by the Apex Food Company!

So if you are looking for a creative new recipe for a lean meat to serve at your next dinner try my recipe below for Tamarind Chipotle Turkey Meatballs. I made this served with spiralized butternut squash which I was inspired by Half Baked Harvest to try (click this link to see how to prepare the butternut squash). I then sautéed some onions until they caramelized, added garlic, and then kale. I topped everything with crumbled goat cheese and a little sriracha sauce because I put that stuff on everything! Anyway that’s just one option, you could also use whole grain pasta or a mix of your favorite sautéed veggies. Whatever you choose I hope you enjoy! 

Butternut Squash "Pasta" with Tamarind Chipotle Turkey Meatballs

Butternut Squash "Pasta" with Tamarind Chipotle Turkey Meatballs

Tamarind Chipotle Turkey Meatballs with the Apex Food Company

Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 10-15 min
Cook Time: 25-35 min


NOTE: If you used breadcrumbs up the amount of salt & pepper.


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl combine all ingredients and mix together with hands.. Start with just 1/2 cup of crushed crackers (make sure your crackers are finely crushed. If needed put in a food processor.). If the mixture is too wet add the additional breadcrumbs..  Combine until all ingredients are mixed in well but be careful not to overwork the meat.
  3. Lightly spray the sheet of parchment paper and place the meatballs on the pan to bake.
  4. Bake for about 30 min or until the outsides begin to brown slightly and the inside is fully cooked. You may take the out at 15 minutes to flip the meatballs over.
  5. Serving suggestion: Great with roasted butternut squash, goat cheese, kale, and caramelized onions.

For a printable version click here!