So I'm taking advantage of these few moments while my sweet boy is sleeping to write about the "meatballs" I made last night. We have been trying to switch to organic meats as much as possible, and as many of you know, organic meats can get pretty pricey. For budget's sake and to save some calories, I decided to try to trade out the meat in a meal or 2 each week for an alternative protein source. In our household, it isn't enough to just cut out the meat in a meal. Since Evan's days are filled with helping other people burn calories, as well as a hard core workout of his own, he needs a protein source at dinner. I did some reading and found this list of non-meat protein sources and how many grams of protein are in each. We just started having a different theme for dinner each night of the week. Since Wednesday is Italian night, I started looking for a non-meat Italian dish with a good amount of protein. I found 2 recipes for meat-free "Meatballs" :) (here and here) Since I believe that every recipe should be a bit flexible based on what you have in your pantry, I made my list of comparable ingredients from my pantry. Here they are:
1 can chili beans (just pinto beans in sauce) Mine was a little spicy, just FYI.
1 can black beans (Feel free to experiment with whatever beans you have.)
1 carrot minced or processed in the food processor
1 clove of garlic
1/4 cup of dry breadcrumbs
1 T of oil (olive oil or canola oil
1 T of Italian seasoning
1 T of parsley (that's all I had left! You could definitely use more than that.)
salt and pepper to taste
pasta of choice
I would suggest processing your beans first and the transferring them to another bowl while you process your carrot and garlic. I processed my carrot and garlic first and when I had all of my ingredients in my small food processor it was too full to incorporate the beans. I transferred it all into a bowl and used an electric hand mixer. You could also use a potato masher.
Anyway...long recipe short, process your beans and carrots/garlic separately. Add the rest of your ingredients and process or mash until it is mixed well. I used a heaping teaspoon to scoop the mixture out. I rolled it into a 1 inch ball. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, turning the bean balls over after the first 10 minutes. While they are baking, boil your pasta of choice and heat some marinara sauce.
Beware they will look cracked and dry when you pull them out, but they are not! They have a great texture and when you pour your sauce over them, they make your mouth water.
We had a tray full of bean balls. Enough for 2 meals for us. Leftovers would be great on hoagies (or hotdog buns :) whatever you have).
Feel free to experiment. That's my favorite part of cooking :) Let me know what you think!