Turkey Meatballs and Veggie Tomato Sauce

When you eat junk food and intake too much sugar and caffeine, your entire body rebels. Mine is craving a detox, a purification from having ingested a lot of sweets and way too much coffee on Sunday. Since it's been a year and a half on the Weight Watchers healthy wagon train, I don't tend to consume a lot of sugary-high-carb-fully loaded cream treats. But I did Blanch, I did. There was a coffee house cabaret at Liz's church on Sunday, and I was helping set out the goodies and coffees. One bite lead to several more, and before I knew it, I had managed to have a sampling of about 5 things and four cups of coffee, though the four coffees were over the course of the day, three prior to the event, and one more at the event, with raspberry syrup and half and half. The only other time I can relate to feeling this way is after a road trip when I've eaten too many fast food meals or meals out at restaurants. I want fresh, clean food, filled with veggies, light on the sodium, oil and simple carbohydrates. A home-cooked simple meal is in order. Luckily I had a stocked fridge full of foods you can feel good about eating. My body wants to go to food rehab, and I'm ready to comply.
This lightened and veggie packed turkey meatball and vegetable tomato sauce is just what the 12 step plan ordered. The tomato sauce is one I've been making for the past year, you can check our the recipe via this link. As for the lighter turkey meatballs, over the years I've moved from ground meat to ground turkey or chicken; purchasing lean meat that is 93% fat free or greater. Frying is a mess, so I've been baking the meatballs. In addition, I've cut out the plain white breadcrumbs in favor of whole wheat or oatmeal; use less eggs, skim milk instead of whole or 2% and little or no cheese. Key to flavor, is to bulk up the spices. One other breakthrough I've made - adding finely shredded carrots and zucchini to the meat mixture. I've add these vegetables to the tomato sauce. I've added shredded carrots to turkey burgers to keep them moist, adding them to the meatballs was a light bulb moment. I know I'm on to something, my favorite Food Network show, Healthy Living with Ellie Krieger, had a similar recipe. Of course, if you put twelve monkey chefs in a kitchen, eventually one of them will come up with this recipe, no culinary idea is that unique, though I'd like to think I've had one or two good ones over the years. These meatballs are moist and tender, and you will get nearly double the amount of them by adding the shredded veggies. More food with less calories. By jove, I think I've got it!

Turkey Meatballs with Shredded Carrots and Zucchini Ingredients:

1 Pound Lean Ground Turkey or Chicken
1 Medium Zucchini (about 1/2 cup) - finely shredded
2 Medium Carrots (about 1/3 cup) - finely shredded
2 Tablespoons Dried Italian Spices
1/4 teaspoon Dried Red Pepper Flakes
1 Small Onion - (about 1/2 cup) Finely Minced
4 Garlic Cloves - minced
1/2 teaspoon Salt and 1/4 teaspoon of Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese - finely grated (optional)
1 Egg - lightly beatened
1/4 Cup Skim Milk
1/2 to 1 Cup Whole Wheat Breadcrumbs - if using fresh, trim crusts and pulse in a food processor

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet - line it with parchment or a silpat, or spray it with cooking spray to coat completely. Set aside.
  2. Combine the all the ingredients, ground turkey though the skim milk and begin to gently combine. Add in the breadcrumbs, using as much as you need to to make the mixture hold together, but not too much to make the mixture too dry.
  3. Use a quarter cup measure or a small/medium ice cream scoop to measure out small meatballs; roll into a ball and place on the prepared baking sheet. Continue to scoop out and form the meatballs. The mixture should yield two dozen.
  4. When all the meatballs are formed, place into the oven and bake for 20 minutes; rotate the pan after 10 minutes and if desired, turn the meatballs over to brown on the opposite side.
  5. Add the meatballs to tomato sauce of choice and bring the sauce to a simmer for 20 to 35 minutes. Serve meatballs over whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce. Makes 2 dozen meatballs.










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