Monday, December 7, 2015

Spaghetti and Lentil "Meatballs"

Spaghetti and meatballs often gets a bad rap...

"Don't eat that pasta...its full of evil carbs"

But lets face it - spaghetti and meatballs is comforting, cozy, Sunday night happy food...

So how can we enjoy it without seeing those meatballs on our hips in the morning? Or feeling like that pasta is still sitting in our belly?...

We "Picky Diet" it up! With quinoa or brown rice pasta, fresh homemade (quick) sauce and "meatballs" made with lentils, quinoa and mushrooms.

Let's see how they compare:

Traditional Meatballs (made with ground beef)
-high in protein
-high in cholesterol
-contains trans fat
-some iron, B vitamins
-may contain hormones
-may contain antibiotics

Picky Diet Lentil "Meatballs"
-high in protein
-cholesterol free
-contains heart healthy fats
-super high in iron and B vitamins
-high in antioxidants
-high in fibre
-high in magnesium
-contains vitamin D

Not sure there is much more to say there so let's start cooking!

This recipe takes a bit longer than my usual ones and is a bit more labour intensive. It makes 12 "meatballs" but you can easily double the recipe and freeze the extras so you do all the work once and enjoy them for many dinners to come.

Spaghetti and Lentil "Meatballs"

serves 4 and makes 12 lentil "meatballs"

Lentil "Meatballs"
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup cooked lentils ( 1/2 cup uncooked)
2 cups cooked quinoa ( 3/4 cup uncooked)
8 crimini mushrooms (cut in quarters)
1/2 cup oats
1 cup walnuts
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried rosemary

Fresh Tomato Sauce
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
8 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 28oz can or jar of crushed tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano
10 fresh basil leaves, cut into strips
fresh ground pepper and sea salt to taste
1 lb of cooked brown rice or quinoa pasta


Lentil "Meatballs"
Cook the lentils and quinoa separately according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large pot, heat the olive oil on medium low heat and sauté the garlic and onions until soft. While the onions are cooking, put the mushrooms in a food processor or blender and pulse to mince them. Once minced, add them to the onions and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. 

Add the cooked quinoa and lentils to the pot and mix well. Add in tomato paste, nutritional yeast, vinegar and herbs. Pulse the oats and walnuts lightly in a food processor or blender until they are ground, but not a powder and add them to the mixture. Cook for another 5 minutes until all ingredients are warm and well mixed. 

Form the mixture into 2" balls (like the size of a golf ball) and place them on the baking sheets and bake for about 30 minutes until they are browned. Serve with pasta and fresh tomato sauce or on their own dipped in tomato sauce. 

Fresh Tomato Sauce
Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium low heat for 5 - 7 minutes until the onions are very tender. Add in the fresh tomatoes and oregano and stir to coat with the oil. Cook for about 10-15 minutes until the tomatoes begin to reduce to a sauce. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and basil and cook for another 15 - 20 minutes. Top the cooked pasta with the sauce, add a few "meatballs" and enjoy!

Sending you sunshine, happiness and lentil meatball love,

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