Zoodles and Meatballs
Ever since I was a little girl, spaghetti and meatballs have been comfort food. Unfortunately, it also packs a heavy caloric punch, with not a great deal of nutritional value. Enter zoodles, the veggie pasta trend taking the internet by storm. Zoodles are, quite simply, zucchini in noodle form. You can perform this trick using a spiralizer or a hand held spiral vegetable slicer like the vegetti.
As you might have seen on my blog, you can turn all kinds of vegetables into noodles, but zucchinis are the most popular for several reasons. First, it is extremely easy to spiralize a zucchini. Some veggies take a lot more elbow grease, or make a big mess, but zucchinis are super quick and easy. Second, they really don’t have much of a taste of their own, which makes them a great noodle substitute. They absorb the flavour of almost anything you want to put with them. Finally, when you lightly cook zucchini noodles in a pan for 3-4 minutes,till they’re warm, they remain firm, like al dente pasta. When I add tomato sauce, meatballs, basil and parmesan, I barely even notice that it’s not the real thing!
For my meatballs, I use extra lean ground beef, rather than ground chicken or turkey, which many think are the healthier choice. This is due to the fact that while red meat has had a bad rap for some time in the health food world, it turns out that ounce for ounce, extra lean ground beef is lower in calories, higher in protein, lower in fat and lower in cholesterol than both ground chicken and ground turkey. This is because when you get ground poultry from the grocery store, it includes the skin. If you get ground chicken breast or turkey breast from the butcher, that’s the healthiest lean ground meat you can get, but they’ll typically have to grind it special for you.
This is a great weeknight meal, because the prep only takes about 10 minutes. I’ll admit that I don’t make my own tomato sauce, because I’m a single person, and that would make vast quantities that I don’t need. Plus, there are some super tasty jarred sauces out there.
Ok, recipe time!
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 500g extra lean ground beef
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup Italian bread crumbs
- ½ cup onion, finely chopped
- 2 ounces parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 tsp chilis
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2 large zucchinis, spiralized
- ½ cup basil, chopped
- 1 jar of tomato sauce (your preference)
Preheat oven to 400, and line a cookie sheet with tinfoil. Lightly spray with cooking oil. Combine ingredients up to pepper in a bowl, using hands. Roll meatballs tightly and place on cookie sheet. I like meatballs around the size of a golf ball (slightly smaller after cooking), but you might like yours to be larger, which is totally fine too. Meatball size is largely a matter of personal preference.
When the tray is ready, bake meatballs for 20 minutes, remove from oven, flip meatballs, and bake for a remaining 5 (times may vary based on your oven temp, but this is what works for me).
While your meatballs are cooking, make your zucchini noodles, chop some fresh basil, heat your tomato sauce and grate additional parmesan, if desired.
You can choose to cook your zucchini noodles or not. Last night I left them raw and it was tasty, but I prefer cooked, as they are hotter that way (obviously). If you cook them, sautee in a pan for 3-4 minutes or microwave for a minute. When you transfer to a bowl, pat them with paper towels to soak up some of the excess water.
When everything is ready, toss it all together and serve! Simple, classic, delicious. I hope you enjoy!
Nutritional Information (per serving when making four servings):
*Note, this calorie count does not include the tomato sauce, which will vary depending on which you choose. Mine was 50kcal a serving. I also did not include the additional parmesan on top, at about 50kcal in addition. So the real total for this meal is around 405kcal.