Ginger & Turmeric Meatballs

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Choosing a lens... and why I know the Russian word for 'meatball'

Nat speaks Russian. Her bro, his fiancé, both sets of parents, and most relatives also speak Russian.

I do not. 

But I've learned a handful of words and phrases over the years. Enough to get a laugh, or know when someone is talking about me, the malchik.

What I've learned, though, is 80% centered around food - dinner table vocab, silverware, ingredients. While I'm pre-k on average, my food-centric Russian is at least kindergarten.

And here's why: because food is my lens.  Lenses help us see things we can't with the naked eye. Through a lens we can look deeper, or see farther.

Those Russian food words are related to my passion, which makes them easier to absorb, and more fun to study and use. The food lens has helped me listen to hours of history lectures, and care about the chemistry in the Maillard reaction.

Nat's lens is health. It's why she'll practice meditating, exercise everyday, plan grocery lists, and create recipes.  It pushes her to stick to habits that are hard to keep. She even went back to school after saying she never would.

I think we all have lenses that help us see things more clearly, and learn things more easily. For me, the tough part was finding it in the first place.

Do you know your lens?

Ginger & Turmeric Meatballs

Today's recipe is an adaptation of a food Natalie grew up with, tifteli, or meatballs. When Julia, Nat's bro's fiancé told us about the zucchini and carrot meatballs she'd made, a lightbulb went off. We've been testing since then, and here's our version.

Serves 4


  • 1 lb ground beef (ideally grass fed or pasture-raised)
  • 8 oz carrot, shredded ~ (2 cups) *
  • 8 oz zucchini, shredded ~ (2 cups) *
  • 4-6 oz onion, (1 small or 1/2 large) shredded *
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2  tsp sea salt 
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric 
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped


  • Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (optional)
  • Shred carrot, zucchini and onion. We use a food processor with the grating attachment.
  • In a large bowl, mix all ingredients until well combined.
  • Take a heaping tablespoon and make a ball with your hands. Place on baking sheet. We usually end up with about 24-26 balls.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes, checking half-way through. 
  • We often serve ours with roasted spaghetti squash, cracked pepper, and a little olive oil (pictured below). 

Photography team on the West Coast. Mostly working with companies and magazines in the food world. Our clients are proud of their product, story, or mission (or all three), and we help them produce their idea into a reality.