Simply Healthy Family: Mini Vegetarian 'Meat'balls {gluten free}


Mini Vegetarian 'Meat'balls {gluten free}

After several weeks of eating more than my share of unhealthy foods, binging on cheese platters and grabbing a cookie or two every time I walked by the arrangement on the table in the lounge at work I am feeling less than desirable. Bloated and tired, cranky and back in my chub-o pants is not how I wanted to start the year. Especially after 3 months of working so hard and feeling so good. Not only did I partake in the stuffing myself with stuffing and the sipping of eggnog but I haven't worked out in almost 3 weeks (well I did yesterday and my body is hating life today). It's amazing how fast you can go from feeling great and in shape to a large slug. 

Back in the saddle. Square one. I will not give up and this bad attitude has to go pronto!

Like I said, I started my workout program completely over yesterday and am glad to be back on track and really looking forward to feeling strong and having energy again. It's so hard to get started after being a bum for a few weeks and having had one cold on top of another to boot. Finding the energy to get started is the hard part for me, keeping it up once my metabolism kicks in is what I have to look forward to. 

My motivation? Buttoning my pants again. 

Exercising is what gives you energy and burns fat but a healthy diet is at least as important to your overall health if not much more important on many levels. Obtaining a healthy, fit body is about 80% diet and 20% fitness. So what you eat can definitely sabotage your best efforts to be healthy or on the other hand fuel your body for success!

Out with the junk

ALL of the processed, prepackaged foods, including processed sugars. Limit carbs, especially processed carbs like pastas and breads, limit starches like rice, corn and potatoes. Watch your unhealthy fat intake;  hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, palm, corn and most vegetable oils, fried foods, full fat cheeses, cream, most red meats, most lunch meats except lean cuts like turkey or chicken which do not contain nitrates or nitrites, poultry skin and margarine (limit real butter intake).

In with the good!

Fruits and Veggies of course! High glycemic and starchy veggies in moderation; beets, carrots, corn, sweet peas and potatoes (including parsnips) and pumpkin. Yes some of these have good for you vitamins but moderation is key when it comes to HGI (high glycemic index) foods. Fruits that are higher on the GI are typically tropical fruits such as pineapple, oranges (always it whole oranges not juice) bananas, coconut and also watermelon. Eat in moderation and not first thing in the morning. Add them to green smoothies! The fiber in green leafy veggies slows down the absorption of the natural sugars found in fruit (fructose).

Lean cuts of meat like skinless chicken and turkey, limit lean read meats and preferably free range like elk or bison (be very careful with lunch meats, almost all of them contain nitrates and nitrites which cause a variety of health problem including migraines)

Instead of doing the "Meatless Monday" thing we typical have meat once a week at the most for dinner and instead have lean fish once or twice a week and salmon once or twice a month. If we have meat more often than that it's in very small amounts compared to the rest of the meal. My favorite way to eat healthy dinners is by adding beans and legumes such as these veggie balls. 

Got picky eaters? My kids aren't fooled by vegetarian 'meatballs' just ask my very outspoken 8 year old! Serve these with spaghetti or spaghetti squash, dip them in warm marinara or even a bit of ketchup (I try to limit that because it contains sugar).

YIELDS    12-15          TIME    30 MINUTES


1 ½ cans (15 oz. each) Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed

½ medium yellow onion, finely minced
1/2 cup grated carrot (adds moisture and sweetness)
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
1 ½ tsp dried oregano
1 egg
1 tablespoon stone ground mustard (you could also use tomato paste)
½ cup cooked quinoa (in place of bread crumbs)
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  1. Line a baking sheet, I love my stone ware baking sheet, with parchment or very lightly oil.
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine beans, onion and carrots. Pulse until chopped, but not smoothly pureed.
  1. Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized bowl and stir in, garlic, parsley, oregano, egg, quinoa, cheese, mustard salt and pepper until well combined.
  1. Using your hands form balls by rolling a small amount (about golf ball size, no bigger) between the palms of your hands. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet, evenly spaced about 1" apart.
  1. Bake until the balls are a light golden brown and crispy, 15 to 20 minutes.

notes:  Serve as an appetizer with a bowl of warm marinara or a cheesy dip or serve on top of baked, herbed spaghetti squash to make it a meal.



  1. Most definetley overinduldged this holiday season....after loosing 10 pounds between Halloween and Christmas! Such hard work (thank you Shakeology) but then gained 5 back by New Years. Yup. Time to get back on the healthy eating wagon. These meatless meatballs sound like the perfect treat.

    1. Love Shakeology! I couldn't afford it for the last few months though ;) Need to start having for breakfast again!

  2. These look like a great dish for the New Year! I know the feeling of post-holiday hangover...I didn't do *too* badly this year but it is definitely time to clean up my act a bit!

  3. Those must be delicious! A wonderful idea.

    Happy New Year and best wishes 2014!



  4. Gwen, you are not alone. I too had a cookie-choked holiday season and really need to get a grip...
    These gf vegetarian meatballs look mouthwatering!

  5. ehehe...I found that the more I think about eating less...I eat more. I have to try these meatballs, look fantastic! :) ela

    1. HaaaHaa Ela, it's true, thinking about all the things I'm not eating makes me hungry. ;}


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