We love breakfast at our house and can eat it all times of day. Since cleaning up the way we live and eat we do a lot of batch cooking and make up a lot of stuff we used to regularly buy. One of those things I regularly make is breakfast sausage. It’s hard to find one (even a so-called “all-natural” one) that isn’t filled with additives, but the biggest reason nowadays is since I had to cut out all nightshades. Most premade breakfast sausage contain spices I can’t have anymore – or they don’t tell you what kind at all so you’re left wondering at the vague listing of spices in the ingredients.
Homemade sausage is very easy to make, although if you do as I do and make big batches it takes a little time. I buy and make at least two pounds at a time. I’ve seen all sorts of recipes and this morning was inspired to create my own and wanted to share it with you!
Before going grain-free earlier this year our favorite sausage recipe contained flour and cheese. I found the recipe a couple of years ago and have actually shared it with you before. It called for regular flour and cheese but I substituted our favorite gluten-free flour blend and a lactose-free raw milk cheese that was easier on me and Blessing’s tummies. You can find that post here: https://preciousbelovedblessing.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/breakfast-for-dinner-gluten-free-greek-breakfast-casserole-with-sausage-balls/. I decided to do a twist on it to make it grain-free this time around.
I used Nutritional Yeast instead of the cheese. Have you ever heard of it? It smells like cheese and gives that creamy richness you may be craving if you’re dairy-free. You often see it called for in vegan recipes and it’s a great alternative to soy or rice based “cheeses” that you find in the grocery store. It’s full of B-vitamins, folic acid, selenium, zinc, and protein; plus it’s also gluten-free and naturally low in fat. I had to search for it at first and actually had to look it up when I started seeing recipes that called for it! It’s yellow and flakey and can be found in the natural section of grocery stores usually in the baking section; I have found it very reasonable in the bulk bin of a local natural market. A little goes a long way – the ½ cup this recipe calls for is the most I ever use at once, so if you are dairy-free this is a great alternative. If you can’t find it you can also order in online.
Change the spices according to your family’s tastes. I used to love fennel and red pepper in mine, but those are both nightshades, as are nutmeg, paprika, and celery seed (other ingredients I could think of off the top of my head that I’ve seen in breakfast sausage mixes). I cannot have ANY nightshades; it gives me digestive upset and makes the eczema flare like CRAZY.
The AIP variation refers to the autoimmune protocol; that is a version of the paleo diet that eliminates all nightshades, nuts, seeds, and dairy, among other things. I did the full elimination diet earlier this year and after slowly adding in different things have discovered what I can and cannot tolerate. I have mixed reactions to nuts so they are a treat for me. If you digest them fine they are good here; I like the flavor the pecans add but if not or you have a nut allergy, you are on the full autoimmune protocol, or simply don’t like nuts, use the tapioca starch. If you are in the elimination phase of AIP the black pepper is out and that is one of the spices you have to decide for yourself if you can tolerate.
One more note. I like making a big batch and then I automatically put at least half of it in the freezer, although sometimes we take them out within just a few days! These don’t last long at our house, but I love batch cooking and when you can’t just go out and buy another package it’s worth the time and money to make a lot at once! They are great not just for breakfast but for a quick protein-filled snack; the balls make them great on-the-go.
Homemade Breakfast Sausage (Paleo, Gluten-Free, with AIP-Variation
Make 80 (1-inch) balls
2 pounds ground pork
½ cup nutritional yeast
¼ cup applesauce (you could also finely grate an apple)
½ cup of your favorite grain free flour, tapioca starch for AIP, or ground nuts like pecans
1 small onion, grated
Sea salt and ground pepper (opt.) to taste
1 Tablespoon dried thyme
1-2 teaspoons horseradish (Horseradish is what I use nowadays when I want a little spice without the adverse effects the nightshades give me. It doesn’t make this spicy, just adds a little extra flavor. You can leave it out entirely if you don’t like it.)
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2) Add all your ingredients into a large bowl and mix well. I find it easiest to use my hands to make sure everything is incorporated well.
3) Form into balls. I have a 1-inch scoop that I think is perfect. Just the right size for the little mouth in the house, but you can make them whatever size you prefer, or even into patties. I put a large batch like this on a parchment paper or silpat-lined large baking sheet, but a mini muffin tin also works great for meatballs.
4) Bake for 25 minutes. It’s that easy! These are good fresh from the oven or at room temperature – we usually snack on them throughout the morning as they cool before they get packed up for the fridge and/or freezer! I hope your family enjoys them as much as mine does! They go with anything. This morning I had them with a little mustard on the side and sauerkraut. Yum!