I grew up in an all Italian family - so one meal that I find super comforting and one that I miss most is spaghetti and meat balls. There are a number of ways to "healthify" this old school dish - I'm making up words here!
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1. Use a whole grain pasta such as kamut or spelt; take it a step further and go gluten-free by using brown rice noodles or even better lentil or bean pasta which is super high in protein. My fave brand is Maria's home-style noodles. I love their chickpea fettuccine. Truthfully, I love any Maria's noodles…my pantry is stocked. I buy them from the FoodLand in Mount Albert.
2. Use grass-fed organic beef or use a lean meat such as turkey or chicken to create your meat balls.
3. My favourite variation of this dish - spiral sliced zucchini and sweet potato pasta.
Nothing makes life more simple in the kitchen than a spiralizer.
If you don't own a vegetable spiral slicer, get yourself onto amazon.ca and buy now! Great, great kitchen gadget to have. You could eat these noodles entirely raw - but we gently sautéed our noodles in a touch of olive oil with sea salt and fresh pepper. Serve with my walnut and mushroom "meatballs" - again these could be eaten unbaked but we baked ours for 15 minutes. I tend to love this dish completely raw in the summer but my body craves the warmth come Fall/Winter. These walnut and mushroom meatballs have been a huge hit with my family and add a great source of protein to an entirely vegetarian/vegan dish.
Top it all off with an organic whole food based tomato sauce or make your own!
Walnut & Mushroom Meatballs (Vegan)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8-10 cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 cups raw walnuts
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. NOTE: Skip this step if you prefer to enjoy the walnut & mushroom meatballs unbaked.
- In a sauté pan over medium heat add 1 tbsp olive oil.
- Add to the pan the diced onion and sauté for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add the minced garlic and sauté for a minute longer - just until fragrant. Remove from the heat and set aside in the food processor.
- In the same sauté pan, add remaining olive oil and sliced mushrooms. Allow them to brown and season with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. When they are cooked, remove from heat and add to food processor.
- In your food processor along with the onions, garlic and mushrooms add your walnuts, nutritional yeast and parsley. Pulse until mixture is well combined and sticky to the touch.
- Taste mixture carefully for seasoning and adjust accordingly.
- Taking 1-2 tbsp of the mixture at a time, form into meatballs. Enjoy them unbaked or set onto a lined baking sheet and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes.
- Serve over top of your pasta or spiral sliced veggies with a generous scoop of tomato sauce and enjoy!