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Thyroid Recipe: Swedish Meatballs

This thyroid-healthy recipe is nut-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free with AIP adaptations.
Thyroid Recipe: Swedish Meatballs
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These Swedish meatballs are not just nut-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, Autoimmune Protocol friendly, and Whole30 compliant; they are simple comfort food to the max! They have a load of hidden veggies, ground meat of your choice, and all of those delicious spices you've come to expect from a traditional recipe.

About this recipe

How to get a creamy, thick white sauce though without dairy

The answer (like to almost everything else in this world nowadays) is: CAULIFLOWER.

As we are sure you've heard, cauliflower is all the rage right now - making its debut as a stand-in for pizza crust, rice, and even in smoothies! This recipe takes advantage of nutrient-dense cauliflower's neutral flavor and texture profiles. It is pureed with gut-loving bone broth and other tasty veggies to make bonafide delicious Swedish gravy.

Cauliflower, garlic, leek, and celery are simmered on the stove with broth and lemon juice until tender, then pureed until smooth and velvety. The creamy look and texture come from cauliflower's white color. 

Use an immersion blender

This type of blender, also known as a stick blender, saves an extra step when making sauces, gravies, and soups. It gives you the advantage of pureeing your recipe directly in the container you cooked it in - rather than transferring batches between another bowl or an extra pot and a blender. And when you make most of your meals from scratch due to food intolerances or food allergies, every little step and every dirty dish adds up very quickly.

We've also found immersion blenders safer to use with hot recipes than a traditional or high-speed blender. This is because you don't have to go back and forth between a steaming pot and blender. You attach the immersion blender head to the motor, plug in the blende, and puree away!

Immersion blender care tip:

Always wash your immersion head by hand (soaking it in warm water if necessary beforehand) as the heat from dishwasher appliances can melt the BPA-free plastic components and render the head un-attachable. (We learned this the hard way, as you can imagine!)

Once you've pureed your gravy, next are the meatballs.

Personally, for this recipe, we love a half and half mixture of lean ground pork and chicken. Still, ground turkey will also do, as we know this is easier to come by in the grocery store versus the former.

Suppose you can find pastured poultry or pork - even better. Animals raised on a natural, grain-free, and pesticide-free diet may have a better balance of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids ratio. This means that the meat from these animals is anti-inflammatory rather than inflammatory. When choosing a diet that is right for your hypothyroidism or Hashimoto's, always consider that lowering inflammation is key to reducing the possibility of damage to the thyroid gland.

Some individuals with thyroid conditions may feel better avoiding

  • Fruit-based spices (black pepper, peppercorns, allspice, cardamon)
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Nightshade vegetables (White potatoes, bell peppers, chiles, eggplant)
  • Legumes (including, but not limited to peanuts, lentils, and chickpeas)
  • Refined sugars (cane sugar, GMO sugar, corn syrup, agave, yacon syrup)
  • Non-nutritive sweeteners (like Stevia, monk fruit, erythritol, xylitol, aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, neotame, saccharin, etc.)
  • Preservatives  (like citric acid)

To determine if these foods are a dietary trigger for you, an elimination diet like the autoimmune protocol (AIP) can help. The AIP diet temporarily eliminates all of the above (plus grains, pseudo-grains like quinoa, and dairy) and then slowly reintroduced each food group to test your food tolerance thresholds. 

Lastly are the delicious spices and meatball seasonings

You can substitute nut-free tiger nut flour for the hemp hearts and still get a lovely nutty texture and flavor while keeping it AIP. Mace is an excellent swap for nutmeg as it has virtually the same aromatic flavor. Then add in ginger and cayenne (or horseradish powder for AIP) for an extra kick. 

Simmer your meatballs in your low-carb, anti-inflammatory, and allergy-friendly gravy, and voila! Comforting, luscious, and satisfying Swedish Meatballs that go perfectly over raw zoodles, grated and sauteed white sweet potato, or your favorite grain-free pasta. 

Bowl of Swedish meatballs and sauted white sweet potato "noodles" for thyroid healthy meal.

Swedish Meatballs Recipe

Spiced turkey meatballs in a creamy cauliflower & mushroom gravy full of veggies. Serve over grated and sauteed white sweet potato "noodles" for an authentic, hearty meal. To keep it on the low-carb side, serve over spiralized zucchini. Makes 4 servings.

See NF for nightshade-free substitutions. 

See AIP for Paleo Autoimmune Protocol Substitutions.



2 Tb refined coconut oil 

2 stalks celery, chopped 

1/2 leek, white part, sliced and washed well 

1 clove garlic, minced 

2 cups cauliflower rice (or finely chopped cauliflower) 

1 cup bone broth, chicken

Juice of 1/4 lemon 

1/2 tsp Himalayan salt 


1/4 cup hemp hearts (AIP: sub tigernut flour)

1 Tb coconut flour 

1/2 tsp ground allspice (AIP: sub ¼ tsp ground clove)

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (AIP: sub ground mace)

2 tsp ground ginger 

1/2 tsp Himalayan salt

1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper (NF: sub 1/2 tsp black pepper; AIP: sub horseradish powder)

1 lb ground turkey, chicken, or pork

8 oz baby portabella mushrooms, thinly sliced


  1. To make the GRAVY: Add oil, celery, and leek to a large pot over medium-high heat. Saute for 5 minutes. 
  2. Stir in garlic, cauliflower, broth, lemon juice, and salt. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer.
  3. Cook for 10 minutes, then remove from heat. Remove the lid and allow it to cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Use an immersion blender on low speed to puree the mixture directly in the pot into a smooth gravy. (Or wait 15 minutes, then blend in a high-speed blender on medium until smooth, then add gravy back to the pot.)
  5. To make the MEATBALLS: Mix the dry MEATBALLS ingredients in a medium bowl. 
  6. Add ground meat and mix well with your hands or a meat chopper.
  7. Use a 2 Tb cookie scoop or your hands to make meatballs. Drop each one as you go into the gravy in a single layer.
  8. Layer mushrooms on top of the meatballs, then turn the heat to medium. Bring to a simmer, then cover and reduce the heat to keep a low simmer.
  9. Simmer for 10 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through and tender.
  10. Stir gently, then serve ladled into bowls. 

NOTE: Top with chopped fresh parsley if desired.


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Samantha Teague

Paleo Nutritional & Holistic Wellness Coach

Samantha is a Paleo Nutritional & Holistic Wellness Coach. She is the creator of The Unskilled Cavewoman, a wellness and recipe blog and Thyroid Awakened, a masterclass to help women with Hashimoto's and hypothyroidism thrive naturally. Find her on Instagram at @theunskilledcavewoman.

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