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Meatballs with Sneaky Vegetables

MeatballsIn this ongoing blog series, Christine, a budget-minded mom and Whole Foods Market® team member, explores ways to create healthy, organic foods that appeal to both toddler and husband. Read the other posts in her ongoing series.

Every autumn I find myself craving “comfort foods.” So I asked myself, “Is there a way to make a hearty Sunday meal loaded with lots of veggies?” I wondered if I could add cauliflower, mushrooms and peas to my classic spaghetti with meatballs recipe. Let’s try it!



1 pound lean grass-fed ground beef

1 ½ cups mixed organic vegetables (I used 3/4 cup organic cauliflower, ½ cup organic mushrooms, ¼ cup organic peas)

1 slice organic whole grain bread

2 organic egg whites

1 tablespoon organic parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Extra-virgin olive oil for shaping


Pasta and Sauce:

1 organic onion

½ cup diced organic carrots

1 tablespoon chopped organic garlic

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 can (28 ounces) diced organic tomatoes

1 can (8 ounces) organic tomato paste

Spices to taste (oregano, basil, salt and pepper)

8 ounces organic whole wheat spaghetti (1/2 package)

First, preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the beef in a bowl (I always chose the leanest combination of 93% beef and 7% fat) and set it aside. Then, put the vegetables and bread into a blender or food processor and use the “mix” setting until everything is finely chopped. I love the mushrooms for their flavor, but any vegetables will do. I used raw cauliflower and frozen peas because that is what I had on hand. If using frozen vegetables, be sure to thaw them first. The beauty of this recipe is that you can experiment with any vegetables your family enjoys.

Place the chopped vegetables and bread into the bowl with the beef. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites. Add the eggs and spices to the main bowl. Mix the ingredients by hand to ensure that the vegetables are thoroughly dispersed. Put a little bit of extra-virgin olive oil onto your fingertips and roll mixture into 1 ½ inch balls. Place the balls on a greased baking sheet. This recipe makes about 16 meatballs. Place the meatballs into the oven and cook for about 20 minutes (or until they are slightly browned).

Then it was time to make the sauce. I once found a way to hide vegetables in my pizza sauce. So, anything is possible. For this meal, I decided on a homemade chunky sauce. I sautéed the chopped onions, carrots and garlic in the oil until soft. I then added the tomato sauce, paste and spices and I let the sauce simmer on the stove while the meatballs cooked.

After the sauce simmered, the timer beeped and I pulled the meatballs out of the oven. They smelled heavenly! I added the meatballs to my sauce and cooked the pasta.


This homemade dinner was a lot easier to cook than I thought it would be! It was the ideal Sunday meal. My husband and toddler were very satisfied too. My son said, “Can we eat meatballs again, tomorrow, Mommy?”  

Now that I know how easy it is to add vegetables to meatballs, I am going to make them part of our dinner rotation.

What’s your favorite family Sunday supper recipe?




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Maria says …

This is genious!!!! I am definitely going to give this a try. Want to know what else tastes good inside meatballs and would further mask the veggie taste is PESTO! Adds tons of flavor!

Eliabeth Acuna says …

It looks so delicious I like to dice Bell peppers green,red,&orange also I add a can of dice tomatoes with basil, oregano garlic mushrooms you can use any brand I like to use S&W dice tomatoes. Don't forget fresh basil chop fine.

Victoria Horrocks says …

This recipe should have oatmeal instead of bread. Healthier. Also, the veggies should be non-starchy and a combination of red and leafy green, like carrots and kale or beets and spinach. I'd also add chopped onions (not pureed) to the mix. Jussayin'