These healthy meatballs are so moist and juicy, but much lower in fat than a regular meatball! They are packed with vegetables, but you could never tell by the way it tastes.
If you are under the impression that meatballs made from turkey are always dry, today I'm going to teach you otherwise.
I thought that too. Lean ground turkey especially (I'm talking 95-99% fat free) tends to turn dry. But sometimes making something healthier also makes it more delicious.
The solution to dry meatballs is vegetables. It seems unlikely, but it makes perfect sense (I'll explain why in a second).
In less than 30 minutes, you can have the tastiest meatballs and proof that healthy meatballs do not have to be dry or bland.
How Do Vegetables Make Meatballs Juicy?
It's important to cook your vegetables before mixing them with the turkey. This makes them very soft (so you don't taste them) and allows them to release their juices.
The vegetables are also cooked in olive oil which makes the meat extra moist.
At first it might seem weird, because why would you use a less fatty meat if you're adding more anyway? But not all fats are created equal. Olive oil is considered to be one of the healthiest fats you can eat because of it's omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and monounsaturated fats.
In summary, the juice from the vegetables, plus olive oil, make the turkey meatballs much healthier, and juicier. Don't you just love it when things work out that way?🙃
What Vegetables Do You Use?
There are quite a few vegetables involved in this recipe, because you know I always like using as much variety as possible.
The vegetables I use here are:
- brussel sprouts
- bell peppers
Do you have to use all of them?
Of course not! However, there are three that I think are essential: onion, mushrooms, and zucchini. Onion has a distinct flavor that is important to meatballs, and mushrooms and zucchini have the most juice to release.
If there are other vegetables you want to throw in, be my guest! Pretty much any vegetable will work here, just make sure you chop it to an appropriate size. They should all be fairly small.
How to Make Veggie-Packed Turkey Meatballs
This recipe only has 3 steps, and they're all pretty simple.
1. Cook the vegetables. Cook them for a while to make sure they are very soft, caramelized, and released their juices.
2. Mix together the turkey, cooked vegetables, soy sauce, parmesan, seasonings, and breadcrumbs. Form them into balls.
3. Cook the meatballs. Use a bit of olive oil, and cook a minute on each "side." Just keep flipping until its cooked, about 4-6 minutes. It's done when the internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Then serve!
If you want to make it gluten free, use a soy sauce alternative, or omit. Make sure to use gluten free breadcrumbs.
As I mentioned, you can swap most of the veggies for others, or omit.
If you have any questions about substitutions, ask me in the comments!
I really hope you like this recipe! If you decide to make it, be sure to post a picture and tag me @nutritiousdelights on Instagram--I'd love to see it!❤️
Healthy Veggie-Packed Turkey Meatballs
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 lb lean ground turkey 90-99% fat free
- 1 cup finely chopped brussel sprouts
- 2 cups chopped spinach or arugula
- 1 ½ cups chopped broccoli
- 2 cups chopped mushrooms
- 1 large zucchini grated
- 1 large diced onion
- 1 cup diced bell peppers or baby bell peppers
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon garlic herb seasoning
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon italian seasoning
- 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
- ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan
- In a large nonstick pan, heat up a tablespoon of olive oil on high heat. Add the onion and bell peppers and cook for 3 minutes. Add the broccoli, brussel sprouts, and mushrooms with a tablespoon of oil and cook for 2 more minutes, then add zucchini. Cook for 2 minutes. Lower heat to medium high and add garlic and spinach/arugula. Cook until the vegetables have shrunken and softened, then add ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and ½ tablespoon garlic herb seasoning. Let it cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, mix together the ground turkey, cooked vegetables, all the remaining seasonings, soy sauce, breadcrumbs, and parmesan. Make sure it is fully combined, but don't overmix. Scoop 2 tablespoons and roll into a ball. Place the balls on a tray.
- In a large nonstick pan, heat a tablespoon of oil on high heat. Place the meatballs on the pan and cook for a minute on each side, totaling about 4-6 minutes. You know they are done when the internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If the pan starts to dry out, pour a splash of water and this will create a "sauce." Serve with parmesan and green onions.