Grandma’s Sneaky Meatballs with ground meat and a puree of veggies, makes these a nutritious meatball for picky eaters; kids or adults!
We all know some. Could be your kids, grandchildren, or the adult in your life. Or… maybe that picky eater is YOU! I can share a trick, how to make meatballs, for the pickiest eater you know! It worked for my kids, works for my grandkids and is sure to work for picky adults too!
Most cooks swear that their meatball recipe is the best, and that is great, but can they say the same about their veggies? Or, does your family devour your meatballs, and then push aside the veggies served with them?
So… why not hide those veggies inside your meatballs? Just think of all the meatball dinners you could serve as a nutritious meatball; in a sub, on a pizza, in a soup, a big bowl of pasta, even as little appetizers on a toothpick.
There are so many meatball dinner ideas, but first we need to make a nutritious meatball, and not just a meat, meatball!
Man oh man is there a history about the meatball, and it didn’t start in Italy! At its most basic form, a meatball recipe is simply some kind of ground meat, beef, lamb, pork, turkey, chicken, even duck, venison and other wild game.
It gets rolled into a ball along with other ingredients, fried, baked, steamed or simmered in a sauce.
And there you have the meatball. But it is the ‘other ingredients’ which sets each meatball apart in international cuisine.
Chinese Meatball Recipes
Chinese cuisine has some of the most unusual flavors in their meatball dishes. Chinese Four Joy Meatballs have familiar flavors for Chinese cooking; soy sauce, sesame oil, lots of garlic, maybe even some hot sauce, is baked into these meatballs.
Often they are served in a delicious sauce of fresh ginger, soy sauce, the sweet and sour mixture (vinegar and sugar). Sounds exotic!
Korean Meatball Recipes Passed Down From Grandma
Korean meatballs, called Wanja Jorim, are served in soups, hotpots, or pan-fried and served in a braised sauce, scrumptious with a few similar sweet and sour flavors as Chinese meatballs.
Beef and pork are often combined which insures plenty fat flavor and substance, found in both these two meat choices. Soy sauce, lots of garlic and ginger go into the meatballs while the sauce is a spicy sweet and sour glaze that gives the meatball and beautiful color and flavor.
Grandmas European Meatball Recipes
Much diversity can be found in the meatballs made throughout Europe, but for the most part they are a ground meat, bread crumbs, grated onions, garlic and spices most typical to their region.
The European meatball that surprised me most was one I encountered while visiting the countryside of England; Faggot. What a smorgasbord of meats that went into this meatball!
There was lots if variations using ground heart, liver and belly of pig, lamb or beef. Sage and parsley for the fresh herbs with mace and allspice for the more exotic flavors. Once made into a ball, the ball got wrapped in bacon. Talk about a MEATball!
Middle Eastern Sneaky Meatball Recipes
Here, is where my childhood comes into the meatball making world; Kibbeh!
Having grown up with a Syrian/American mom, whose girlfriends were a mixed collection of Italian, Greek, Russian and Armenian, cooking in our home was a delicious event that happened every day.
Kibbeh is a fantastic sneaky meatball made with ground lamb, bulgar wheat (instead of bread crumbs), lots of fresh herbs.
Hidden inside is stuffed pine nuts and barley or small chunks of lamb that have been braised in spices, or leftover meat from roasted leg of lamb.
The same Kibbeh meatball recipe, not stuffed, can also be used for the making of Kofta, and easy to serve on a stick! But we are still just eating meat! By the time many kids or adults have eaten their meatballs, or meatballs and pasta, they just push the vegetables to the side saying ‘that was delicious, but I’m full’!
Grandmas Know How To Sneaky Healthy Ingredients Into Food
It was in the making of Kibbeh, that I created the concept of a meatball recipe called Grandmas Sneaky Meatball.
A meatball that could be made with familiar favorite flavors for a meatball recipe and yet dense enough a meatball to be able to hide freshly pureed veggies into the mix. Yes! I knew I was onto something.
Moms Become Grandmas With Lots Of Sneaky Food Tricks
Having been a single mom of four children during most of their growing up years, I had to find ways to feed my kids healthy food, on a budget.
Having grown up making nearly all food from scratch, I benefitted from being able to make healthy food, from scratch and stick to my budget.
With a crazy busy lifestyle, four amazing children I wanted to feed only the best and most nourishing food to, there often was very little time to do it.
I found ways to hide lots of nutritious ingredients into the food I cooked, therefore removing the agitation of a picky-eater kid, from meal time.
Trust me on this, your picky-eaters are going to love these!
Kid Friendly Meatballs
The trick, is to puree any assortment of veggies, hide them in the meat of the meatballs, and mask them with lots of flavor and cheese and an egg to hold them together!
The kids will never see the veggies there and if you throw a few chilies in there for the picky-eater adults, they will never suspect you are making them a healthy vitamin packed meatball! Shhhh!
I use a food processor, but a blender will work as well if you don’t want to invest in a food processor, though the small ones with a 3-cup bowl are very affordable.
The first thing to do is to puree the veggies to be used. The rest goes fast and easy. These are just some of the veggies I have used, but you can puree just about any vegetable you have or prefer to use.
- Kale or Spinach
- Ground meat
- Italian seasoning – a few of these or all of them, oregano, marjoram, thyme, basil, rosemary
- Grated cheese
- Bread crumbs
- Saute pan
- Cutting board
- Chopping knife
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Food processor or blender
- Stove top or burner
Grandmas Sneaky Meatballs
- Kale or spinach – 2 cups
- Carrots – 1 cup rough chopped
- Onion – 1 medium, rough chopped
- Tomatoes – 1 cup, rough chopped (1 large or 10 cherry)
- Zucchini – 1 cup, rough chopped
- Garlic – 3 cloves
- Veggie Puree – 2 cups
- Ground meat – 2 pounds, or 2 cups cooked lentils
- Eggs – 2
- Salt – 1 tablespoon
- Italian herb mix – 1 tablespoon (store bought or a mix of oregano, marjoram, thyme, basil, rosemary, sage. Any or all of these herbs mixed)
- Grated cheese – 1/2 cup
- Bread crumbs – 1/2 cup
- rough chop of the veggies is all you need because the machine will do the rest.
- Toss them all into a processor or blender and puree to a liquid. What you don’t use for these meatballs can be stored a few days in the fridge, to use in a soups or chili, or frozen in small batches for future use. You could also use this mix in a tomato sauce with pasta or on a pizza. No one will suspect the veggies hiding there!
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients for the meatballs together, taking care to incorporate the mix well.
- Roll the meatballs into a nice tight ball and place them on a baking tray. Pop them into the oven for 8 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 and bake another 25 minutes.
- Grandmas Sneaky Meatballs are now ready to serve over pasta with a sauce, on top of a pizza, or any of the meatball dishes your family enjoys, just don’t tell them what is hiding inside the meatball! Shhhhh!!