Turkey Meatballs and Tomato-Free Pasta Sauce

Turkey Meatballs and Tomato-Free Pasta Sauce

Published on Wednesday, August 02, 2023
Lisa Green

Acid Reflux
Jump to Recipe

GERD can make you miss out on some of your favorite foods.  

One of them being spaghetti sauce. Traditional spaghetti sauce consists of tomato as the number one ingredient and garlic. Both of which are GERD triggers. I wanted to make a spaghetti sauce without GERD triggers, one that mimicked a traditional and delicious sauce. After researching and testing, I did it! I am beyond excited to share this brand-new GERD-friendly recipe!

The main components of the sauce base are beets, carrots, and celery. Do not get turned off by the beets. I promise the sauce doesn’t have a strong beet flavor. If someone didn’t know that they were in the sauce, they probably would never know.  

I like to refer to beets as “the candy of the Earth''. Essentially that is what beets are. In Michigan, white sugar will typically be beet sugar, not sugar cane, since the environment is more suited to growing beets than sugar cane. Beets are a super root! Loaded with minerals. One mineral that stood out to me was copper. One cup of beets gives us 11% of our daily copper needs. Copper is needed for our cells to communicate with each other efficiently. Beets are also packed with fiber, folate, potassium, iron, vitamin C, and phytonutrients (where they get their vibrant red color from!).

I recommend making this recipe in a two-day process. On day one, you will roast the beets and the carrots. Depending on the size and the age of the beets, roasting time could be anywhere from two to four hours! So, you will want to check them after two hours. The beets will be a little more than fork tender, not mushy, but not al dente. Remove the aluminum foil and cool on the counter before placing them in the refrigerator. I waited until the next day to peel off the skin; this method worked really well. Don’t waste the beet water! Save that to incorporate into the sauce the following day!

On day two, you will create the finished dish with the meatballs, pasta sauce, and spaghetti or pasta of your choice! The red wine vinegar and Dijon mustard in this recipe give the sauce that tomato bite, and if you are concerned they might be a GERD trigger, please understand the amounts used in this recipe are so minimal they should not elicit a response; however, if you want to err on the side of caution, you can exclude them.  

This recipe uses Smoke ‘N Sanity Seasonings, which provide the taste of garlic WITHOUT the garlic! These seasonings have the Monash University Low FODMAP Certification. They are a gut-friendly addition to any cuisine for those with GI sensitivities looking to add familiar flavors to their dishes. Head to the SnS website and use the coupon code SNSRD15 for 15% off any of their products!

[[ recipeID=recipe-8lkimezvp, title=Turkey Meatballs with Tomato-Free Pasta Sauce ]]

  1. Beets, raw. Beets, raw nutrition facts and analysis. (n.d.). https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Beets%2C_raw_nutritional_value.html 
  2. Find certified low Fodmap Foods. Certified Low FODMAP products | Monash FODMAP - Monash Fodmap. (n.d.). http://www.monashfodmap.com/ibs-central/i-have-ibs/certified-products/ 


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Turkey Meatballs with Tomato-Free Pasta Sauce

Servings: 6


  • Prep Time: 2 hours 0 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hours 0 mins
  • Total Time: 3 hours 0 mins




The Sauce

  • 2 large red beets
  • 5 medium carrots (chopped)
  • 5 celery stalks (chopped)
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 8 oz mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chicken base or 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • Dash Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp SnS Essence of Garlic Salt
  • 2 tablespoons SnS Beyond Italian Seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The Meatballs

Optional Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of your favorite spaghetti pasta
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh Herbs
  • Red Pepper Flakes


The Day Before:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. If the beets are large, cut them in half. Place the beets in a roasting pan, cover with water, then cover with aluminum foil. Place in the oven for 2-3 hours.
  2. Roasting time for beets varies (2 to 4 hours). Check after 2 hours—aim for fork-tender texture. Let cool, peel the next day. Save beet water for sauce!
  3. While the beets have been roasting for an hour, chop the carrots, put them in a baking dish covered with water and aluminum foil, and place them in the oven. The carrots will only take 30-60 minutes, depending on the size and age of the carrots. 

Day Two:

  1. Chop the celery, and slice the mushrooms.
  2. Add olive oil in a medium saute pan on medium to high heat. Once the oil has “legs,” add the fennel seeds and celery. Saute for a couple of minutes, then add the mushrooms. Adjust the heat if needed. If the pan looks a little “dry,” add a ¼ cup of the chicken stock instead of adding more oil. This will speed up the cooking process and eliminate the use of unnecessary oil. Once the celery and mushrooms are soft, remove from heat. Remove one cup of the mixture and set aside for the meatballs.
  3. Add the celery/mushroom mix, peeled beets, carrots, and the remaining ingredients in a large saucepan, except for the dry seasonings. Place on the stove on high heat covered for about 20 minutes. Add more stock or water/leftover beet water if more liquid is needed.
  4. Once the sauce is hot, remove it from the heat, and using an immersion blender, blend until all ingredients are combined and the texture resembles a spaghetti sauce. Add the dry seasonings, taste, and add more if needed.

The Meatballs

  1. Making the meatballs and cooking the meatballs all can be done while the sauce is simmering on the stove. First, put the meat in a medium mixing bowl. In a food processor, puree the mushroom/celery mix until smooth. Mix all the ingredients into the meat, ensuring the components are evenly distributed. 
  2. In a large saute pan, add two tablespoons of olive oil. Heat the oil on medium to high heat until it forms “legs.” Now it’s time to add the meatballs.
  3. Place the balls in the pan, ensuring not to overcrowd the pan. If this is done, the meatballs will not get a nice crispy caramelization; they will steam instead and fall apart. I made this mistake in my test batch. The meatballs should take only 10-12 minutes, flipping them 1⁄2 through. To be safe, though, insert a meat thermometer; the temperature will be 165°F. and climbing for the meatballs to be fully cooked. Once flipped, the meatballs can also be finished in the oven for approximately the same time in a 400°F—degree oven.
  4. While the meatballs are cooking and the sauce is simmering, get the pasta on the stove too! Follow the instructions on the box.
  5. Once all the components are finished cooking, plate and eat! Top with your favorite fresh herbs and parmesan.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1

Serving Per Recipe: 6

Amount Per Serving
Calories 419
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 22.5g 34%
Saturated Fat 4.3g 21%
Trans Fat 0g
Sodium 1449.3mg 60%
Total Carbohydrate 24.2g 8%
Dietary Fiber 5.2g 20%
Sugars 9.4g
Protein 30.1g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs:


Difficulty: 5

*Difficulty level on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being easy (little to no cooking experience required) and 10 being difficult (having a strong background in cooking and using equipment)

Nutritional Analysis does not include optional ingredients.

*Prep Time for day one may vary between 2-4 hours, depending on the size and age of the beets used for roasting.