The IKEA Effect: Mid-week Swedish Meatballs

The IKEA Effect: Mid-week Swedish Meatballs
Homemade Gluten Free and Dairy Free Swedish Meatballs

Schaumburg’s IKEA is the Disney World of furniture for my kids. The bright colors, interesting shapes, and inventive toys are almost as irresistible as the Swedish Meatballs wafting from the 4th floor above. While I contemplate the effort involved in building a Hensvik for my daughter’s bedroom, the kids move from display to display, sitting on ingolfs, laying on sniglars, and bouncing sparkas.

Contrary to popular belief, the IKEA effect is not the anger your significant other experiences when you bring home a piece of furniture that will take no less than 6 hours, several beers, and extra screws and wood glue to assemble. It is an actual phenomenon where the things we create are perceived as more valuable to us in comparison to things we purchase. Like my Swedish Meatballs. To me, this recipe is more delicious than Swedish Meatballs I could buy at the store (mainly because gluten free and dairy free Swedish Meatballs are impossible to come by at a grocery store) but also because I made them…while lovingly dreaming of the Hensvik I will assemble for my daughter’s bedroom.

Swedish Meatballs

½ cup gluten free bread crumbs
¼ cup beef stock ( Hormel beef boullion dissolved in 8 oz water)
20 oz lean ground turkey (Jennie-O is gluten free)
3 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Shortening
1 egg, beaten
½ onion, chopped fine or grated
1½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
dash allspice


4 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Shortening
1/3 cup cornstarch (Argo brand is gluten free)
1 cup beef stock (Kitchen Basics is one gluten free brand)
1 10 oz pkg of mushrooms
1 cup Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk
2 tbsp Galaxy gluten free/dairy free cream cheese
Salt to taste
Parsley for garnish

In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, saute chopped onion in 1 tbsp of Earth Balance for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat. In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs and beef stock. Add the sauteed onions, egg, ground turkey, and spices. Use your hands to mix all ingredients, so they are well combined. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Returning to the meatball mixture, form into 1-2 inch sized meatballs. Place meatballs onto baking sheet. Add remaining 2 tbsp Earth Balance to saute pan until butter is melted. Add meatballs in batches to the saute pan, browning on all sides. Once browned, return meatballs to the baking sheet.

Once all meatballs have been browned, add 1 tbsp Earth Balance to saute pan. Add mushrooms and saute until soft. Remove from pan and set aside. Add remaining 3 tbsp Earth Balance to saute pan. Slowly whisk in cornstarch, stirring often until the sauce is the color of creamed coffee. Slowly add beef stock to the pan, a little at a time. Once all beef stock has been incorporated, slowly add in the almond milk and cream cheese, continuously stirring. Return the meatballs to the large saute pan, along with the cooked mushrooms, reducing heat to low. Cover and continue to cook for 10-15 minutes.

Serve over gluten free egg noodles or gluten free pasta shells with a side of roasted vegetables.


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  • What is a hensvik?

  • Isn't it obvious? :) It's a cabinet with a book shelf unit. Half the fun of IKEA is in pronouncing the Swedish names for all of the furniture and home goods.

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