Meatballs are universal. You scarfed them down as a kid, and you crave them on your pasta today. No one can resist them. Plus, they’re versatile. Need a topping for your pasta, or an appetizer for your next family-get together. Whip up a batch of meatballs, and you’ll see smiling faces ready to dig in. But the traditional meatballs we’re familiar with are often loaded with fatty cuts of red meat, and can be greasy and caloric. We’ve put together a healthy meatball recipe that’s full of flavor without the fat and calories of traditional recipes.
These meatballs are made with lean ground chicken or turkey, which provides a whopping dose of protein without the fat and calories of pork, beef, and veal, which are traditionally used to make meatballs. In fact, we suggest using ground chicken or turkey in many of your favorite recipes, such as bolognese sauce, burgers, and casseroles. It’s a great way to capture the comfort food feel of ground meat, with the leanest and healthiest of proteins available. Substitute whole grain breadcrumbs for white breadcrumbs, and you’ve got a healthy dose of fiber from these complex carbohydrates. Spinach, tomato, and basil add antioxidants and fiber.
Stick a toothpick in these meatballs for a hearty appetizer. Add them to your marinara sauce or bolognese sauce for a delicious pasta. Kids and adults will be thrilled to see these at the table, and they’ll applaud when you tell them that they’re guilt-free.
Yields: 20 meatballs/4 servings | Serving Size: 5 meatballs | Calories: 231 | Total Fat: 13 g | Saturated Fat: 4 g | Trans Fat: 0 g | Cholesterol: 144 mg | Sodium: 165 mg | Carbohydrates: 4 g | Dietary Fiber: 1 g | Sugars: 1 g | Protein: 26 g | SmartPoints (Freestyle): 6
- 1 pound lean ground chicken or turkey
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 egg
- 2 cups fresh spinach leaves, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons whole grain breadcrumbs (increase the amount if the balls don't stay round and firm) + more for coating the balls
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup (1/2 pint) cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 8 fresh basil leaves, torn or roughly chopped
- In a large bowl, mix the ground chicken, Parmesan, spinach, egg, 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Mix well until it is compact.
- Shape little balls with the mixture then coat them with breadcrumbs. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, over medium heat, sautè the tomatoes in 1 tablespoon olive oil for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with fresh basil leaves at the end of cooking. Then set aside.
- Over medium - high heat, in big shallow saucepan with 1/4 cup olive oil, fry the chicken balls until all sides are golden brown.
- When they are cooked, transfer them to a plate with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
- Serve the chicken balls together with the tomatoes.
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