Juicy Baby Meatballs
I love this recipe so much because it's a great opportunity to sneak in extremely healthy stuff like parsley which are less acceptable for kids if not diced up and hidden. I actually used the parsley leaves for my own food and saved her the stems for these. The stems are pretty rough to eat but they are perfect when blitzed up as they are actually more flavourful than the leaves, and are packed with vitamin A, C, K, folate and iron. Not to mention, throwing away parsley or cilantro stems is basically throwing out 1/2 of the package - such a huge waste I cannot even stand it.
1 cup any veggies (diced in food processor)
1/2 large onion (diced in food processor)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
60mls milk (I used toddler formula)
1 tbsp oil (I used avocado oil, but can be substituted with any oil)
Preheat your oven to 200°c/375°f
Blitz in food processor all the veggies. I used half a purple onion (a must for flavour), asparagus, carrots, string beans and some leftover stalks of parsley. It doesn’t matter what veggies you use here, but it would be a great idea to use the kind that your child doesn’t normally like to eat, so as to get more nutritional variety into them.
With a spatula or your hands, mix in a large bowl the veggie mixture with meat, breadcrumbs, egg, cheese, milk, oil and seasoning.
Form into golf ball sized balls on a silicone baking mat on top of a baking tray, or lightly grease the baking tray if you don't have a baking mat. Best not to use aluminium foil or baking paper to prevent wastage.
Bake 20-25 minutes.
Once these are cooled, put them in an airtight container and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. These are so handy and a lifesaver for busy days! Sometimes i just steam a meatball and veggies on top of rice for Bevy, sometimes i steam then mash it up and mix with pasta. Like sausages, their applications are endless but they are super healthy and packed with veggies.
I used the Avent baby blender for blitzing the veggies. Don't think that you can only use it for making purees from steamed veggies, it is strong enough for raw veggies too. It only takes 10 seconds!
I find that if you use predominantly beef in meatballs it tends to turn out dry because its minced beef is usually not so fatty, so the 1 tbsp of oil makes a difference in keeping it moist - look at how juicy they are! If you use more pork and less beef, or fattier meat in general, you can skip the oil.
I did not salt these at all, but there is some sodium in the cheese. They are mild enough for kids but flavorful enough for adults as well. For adults, cook them or reheat them in a marinara sauce and serve with pasta or in a baguette (meatball subs!) or hamburger buns with melted cheese. You could also serve them with mashed potatoes and gravy, or mixed with potato hash in a skillet, or drizzled with tzatziki sauce with grated veggies in a pita bread. I could go on and on!
I don't eat meat anymore, but not wanting to deprive Bevy of options at this stage of her life, i give her meat a few meals a week. When i do serve her meat, I make sure it is organic and free range if possible to minimize as many harmful dietary factors in her life as possible.
I ALWAYS choose red onions over white ones, because they contain higher levels of quercetin and anthocyanin antioxidants that are effective in killing human cancer cells. The more colorful option of a vegetable quite often has the most nutritional benefits.
If you, like me, hate wasting the remaining bag of cheese after making this recipe, you can consider using the remainder for my baby veggie cheese muffins:)