It's no secret that even the best toddler eaters, don't like it all. That certainly is not lost on my three-year-old. She likes a lot of foods, and we fortunately haven't encountered any allergies thus far. But, there are still a handful of veggies her palate just doesn't love. Nutrition is very important to my family and I try to pack our meals with as many nutrient dense foods as possible. With that said, my daughter hates mushrooms, and I got her to eat A LOT of them! Sure I tricked her and hide them in our tasty chicken meatballs, but hey, a moms gotta do what a moms gotta do, right?
The trick with hiding veggies in foods is to try and match texture and color so they blend together well. Another benefit to hiding vegetables in spaghetti and meatballs is adding a vibrant marinara sauce to hide anything else you happen to sneak in there.
For our spaghetti and meatball night, not only did I switch it up by making them chock full of nutrients, I swapped out beef for chicken. But, you can certainly use any ground meat you prefer.
I find chicken meatballs to be more tender and flavorful compared to beef or turkey, but cook up what you like! Below is everything you will need to make this quick 30 minute veggie loaded meatball meal. I also doubled up my recipe, so I could freeze the leftover meatballs for quick on the go meals. Call that a major #momwin. Now are you ready for the goods?
Chicken Meatball Ingredients:
2 lbs - Organic Ground Chicken (or meat of your choice)
2 cups - Chopped Mushrooms
1 cup - Chopped Spinach
1/2 cup - Breadcrumbs (swap out for nut crumbs for GF option)
1 - Egg
1 tbsp - Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbsp - Garlic Powder
1 tsp - Salt
1 tsp - Pepper
Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated. At this point, I fill up a large pot with water and let it come to a rolling boil for the spaghetti noodles.
After you've mixed all the ingredients together, roll the mixture into golf ball sized meatballs. You can make them bigger or smaller depending on your personal preference. One pound of meat tends to make 12 meatballs for me. By the time I'm done forming my meatballs, the water should be boiling and ready to add the spaghetti noodles.
Add a tablespoon of oil to a saute pan, I like to use avocado oil, but any type of vegetable oil will work. Brown the meatballs over medium-high heat. Approximately 1 minute per side.
After the meatballs are browned, I transfer them to my marinara sauce and let them continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes, or until fully cooked. I also like to add more mushrooms to my sauce after all the meatballs have been added.
Once the noodles are cooked, I strain them in a metal colander, give them a quick rinse and toss a little oil over them so they don't stick. Plate up your noodles, top with meatballs and voila, you have a veggie packed dinner in 30 minutes! If you want to really pack in a veggie punch you could swap out the spaghetti noodles with spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles. However you decide to dish it up, it will be delicious!
It's the perfect comfort meal for busy parents. Give this recipe a try and let me know how you like it.