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3 Simple Tricks to Make Healthier Meatballs

We are all about plant-based eating, but unless you’re a vegetarian or vegan, it’s hard not to love meatballs. They’re just…delicious.

Plus, you can eat them with a side of veggies or salad for a Paleo and Keto-friendly meal or on top of whole wheat (or gluten-free) spaghetti for an upgraded take on classic comfort food. Kids also tend to like them, and how hard is it to get kids to eat good food?

RELATED: The 5 Healthiest Pastas That Are Also Delicious

And guess what? There are a few simple ways to make tiny tweaks that result in healthier meatballs, without sacrificing flavor.

Start by buying the best grass-fed beef or organic turkey you can find, and then try these meatball hacks, below.

(Photos: Shutterstock)

3 Ways to Make Healthier Meatballs

  • 1. Add greens

    Members of Nutritious Life’s team have been known to sneak spinach into their meatballs, and apparently it’s a trick plenty of cooks use. Talk about an instant nutrient-boost. You can basically add cooked greens (kale would definitely work, too, but spinach is probably the least intrusive) into the bowl and shape the balls as usual. This Food Network recipe provides a good template, and other cooks add different veggies, too, like zucchini and carrots.

  • 2. Use oats instead of breadcrumbs

    This eliminates the bread from the recipe and is especially useful if you’re eating gluten-free or watching carbs. Lots of recipes you’ll find online call for adding quick oats, whole. Another strategy: NL’s editorial director uses the steel cut or rolled oats that are already in her pantry and pulses them in a Vitamix quickly to get them to more of a breadcrumb consistency. It works really well, we promise.

    RELATED: 17 Next-Level Ways to Eat Oats

  • 3. Use nutritional yeast

    Another common way to make your meatballs gluten-free is to use a combo of almond meal and nutritional yeast instead of breadcrumbs, like Against All Grain’s. And if you want them to be dairy-free (whether using breadcrumbs or not), the nutritional yeast adds a cheesy flavor without Parmesan, while also adding nutrient value. Nutritious Life’s COO has been on a muscle-building journey recently, and to follow her coach’s eating plan, she had to make her “bodybuilder meatballs” without cheese, breadcrumbs, or oats. To do so, she used egg whites as a binder and nutritional yeast to replace the bread/cheese component, and voila! A post-workout high-protein, low-carb dish.

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