Got a taste for meat? Balls of meat make such a neat package of protein at any meal. Whatever meat you choose – beef, pork, chicken or turkey, watch the fat, aim for at least 95% lean. If you want to make meat-free balls and use quinoa, black beans, seitan or tempeh – go for it! My kids love meatballs, too – and we create meatball concoctions together (although, when we make them together, my little ones tend to stay a bit on the bland side for my liking). Many cultures create meatballs from the Swedes to the Turks to the Italians – massaging ground meat into a ball has been around for centuries.
There’s a couple of reasons that I love meatballs, first off you can make them mini or grande. The registered dietitian nutritionist in me loves this as you control the size of the calorie and protein bolus you eat at one sitting! I tend to stay more toward the mini to medium meatball size for portion control purposes. (Doesn’t mean you can’t cut the large ones in half and share, though…)
Secondly, you can add (or sneak) all sorts of nutrient-rich ingredients into the meat mixture. I like to boost the nutrition, whenever I can. Here are some tasty, nutritious injections that I add to my meatballs:
- Ground flaxseed, chia or hemp seeds for an omega-3 fat and fiber boost
- Whole grain bread crumbs or wheat germ to up the fiber
- Chopped nuts, such as walnuts, pistachios or almonds for fiber, good-for-you fats and vitamin E
- A dollop of plain Greek yogurt to inject some probiotics, calcium and vitamin D
- Minced basil, oregano, cilantro and/or parsley for a flavor and phytonutrient kick
- Shredded greens like spinach, kale, Swiss chard or arugula to add a dose of vitamin K, calcium and fiber
- Top them with tomato sauce for vitamin C and lycopene – a powerful antioxidant.
What do you like to add to your meatballs? Do tell, we’d love to know.
Today, we are in the kitchen making a simple meatball with a tomato balsamic glaze. I love to add sauces to my meatball as it moistens the meat, melds the flavors and add more nutritional value. By adding tomato-based sauce, which is rich in vitamin C, you are helping your body absorb the iron in the meat, too. So that’s a plus!
Marvelous Turkey Meatballs with Balsamic Tomato Glaze
Serves 8 (2 small meatballs each)
1 pound ground turkey breast, 95% lean
1/4 cup low-sodium Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons whole grain bread crumbs
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon minced onion
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl add ground turkey, Worcestershire sauce, bread crumbs, garlic powder and onion. Mix to combine and using a small ice cream scoop dollop a golf ball size round into your clean, washed hands. Massage into a ball, repeat until you’ve used all of the meat mixture. Place the meat balls into a non-stick pan over medium heat and cook them. Brown the outside and turn occasionally to get all sides. Once browned, place in the oven to cook through for about 20 minutes.
While they are cooking make the glaze in a small sauce pan over low-medium heat, add olive oil and garlic and sauté for a few minutes until garlic is translucent. Toss in tomatoes and vinegar. Stir together until it starts to thicken (or reduce). Remove from heat. Take meatballs from the oven and drizzle with glaze. Serve over whole grain pasta or a bed of mixed greens.
Nutrition Information (per serving): Calories:125, Total Fat: 7 g, Saturated Fat: 2 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 45 mg, Sodium: 113 mg, Total Carbohydrate: 5 g, Dietary Fiber: 1 g, Sugars: 2 g, Protein: 11 g
Enjoy eating simply,