The Versatile Meatball

March is Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is the “100 Meal Journey”. I love the theme because it is emphasizing making small changes to better health, a big part of the way I practice. Dietitian’s of Canada is challenging individuals to take a 100 Meal Journey pledge. My pledge is to eat include 4 of the food groups in both lunch and dinner. I also have pledged to share weekly recipes with you to help you with your 100 meal journey!

To kick things off, I thought I would start with a family favorite. I love meatballs, not only because they are so versatile and can be made from any type of ground meat, they are also portioned to help with controlling portions and being mindful of how much we are eating. Meatballs often are mistaken for being a meal choice that takes a lot of time to cook, but they are very easy and can be a great meal to cook with more than one person. Let me know what your pledge is in the comments section or on Facebook! Stay tuned for more recipes…

Ingredients:

Meatballs:

* 1/2 cup milk

* 2 slices whole wheat bread, torn into pieces

* 2 lbs extra lean ground beef (any ground meat works, best flavor is grass fed beef)

* 2 large eggs

* 1 tbsp parsley

* 2 cloves garlic, minced

* 1 tbsp Italian seasoning

* ¼ cup onion, diced

* Salt and pepper to taste

Vegetable Sauce

* ½ cup onion, diced

* 3 stalks celery, chopped

* 1 bell pepper, chopped

* 1 large tomato, chopped

* 1 can tomato sauce (no salt added)

* 1 tbsp Italian seasoning

* ½ tbsp thyme

* 1 tbsp fresh parsley

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400. Grease an 11 inch by 17 inch baking dish with olive oil and set aside.

2. Place milk in a small bowl and add the bread. Submerge the bread piece completely and let soak. Squeeze the bread until moist but not soggy and discard the remaining milk.

3. Combine the bread with the beef in a large bowl with the remaining ingredients and mix until combined. Using your hands can make this a fun kids job, but first ensure hands are washed well.

4. Shape the mixture into 12-18 equal sized balls. Place the meatballs on the prepared pan.

5. Bake for 25 minutes, turning the meatballs half way through.

6. While the meatballs are baking, start the sauce. In a medium frying pan, add 1 tbsp butter with onion, garlic and celery. Brown over medium heat.

7. Once onions are translucent, add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Enjoy the meatballs and vegetable sauce over whole wheat pasta and sprinkle with a shredded cheese!

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