Lightened-Up Turkey Meatballs

I am back on a kick to get my kids to eat more veggies. Boy they can be soooo picky! Today I share a healthier meatball with you. How is a meatball related to veggies you ask? Well you add the veggies into the meat, duh!

I love meatballs, I really do. I make them several different ways and usually use lean turkey to lighten them up. Some of the recipes I make are a little richer with parmesan cheese, but this most recent version really caught my eye because it had the addition of lots of mushrooms and onions. I thought maybe it would get my kids to like mushrooms a little more.

Ok so fast forward to after dinner. It wasn’t exactly a hit with them. My 5 year old ate one big meatball but sure enough detected the mushrooms and said “I don’t like mushrooms”. My 3 year old nibbled on it. My husband and I really liked them. They were a lighter version than my typical turkey meatball and I felt good about the addition of veggies. I’d make them again and who knows, maybe they’ll pass the kid test the second go around.

If you are looking for a high protein, lower sodium, more nutritious meatball recipe, give this a try. Meatballs are excellent to freeze so you can pull out a few to defrost for meals- add to a sandwich, pasta or use for appetizers. I made a pasta bake to go along with these, but they’d be great simmered in some marinara sauce.

Look at all these mushrooms going into the dish. Now I used regular ol’ button mushrooms, but I am writing the recipe with baby portobellos (aka crimini mushrooms). I prefer their flavor, but the others work just fine too.

Mushrooms cooked down with the onions and garlic. The mixture helps keep the turkey meat nice and moist.

You can use store-bought breadcrumbs but they are higher in sodium. If you have a mini food processor it only takes a couple seconds to get fresh bread crumbs!

I am sorry but when cooking meatballs in the skillet versus the oven, there is no way I can make them round. Sure I could constantly turn them so they don’t have a chance to get flattened, but I have 3 kids that all seem to need me as soon as I turn the stove top on.

See how I focused on the pretty round one in front? Who cares though- they taste great, they just look a little funny.


Lightened-Up Turkey Meatballs
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1¼ lb ground lean turkey breast
  • 1 (8 ounce) package crimini mushrooms (can sub regular mushrooms), finely diced
  • ½ cup finely diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning veggies
  • ½ cup freshly ground whole wheat bread crumbs (one large slice provided more than enough)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  1. Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick skillet, add mushrooms, onion and saute for 3 minutes, add minced garlic and saute additional 2 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Season with a little salt & pepper and remove from heat.
  2. In a large bowl, combine turkey, salt, breadcrumbs, egg and mushroom mixture. Stir until well combined. Using a spoon or ice cream scooper, form equal size meatballs.
  3. Return nonstick skillet to stove-top over medium high heat. Add 1 Tablespoon olive oil to skillet, saute meatballs for 10 minutes or until done.

Question: Do you have any tricks for getting your kids to eat new vegetables?

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  1. says

    Getting veggies in the kids is just hard!!! What works for us is keeping it simple. When I complicate the matter, it doesn’t work. But if I just put plan ‘ole veggies in front of them, they will (sometimes begrudgingly) eat. Straight up cut tomatoes, carrots, peas, broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, romaine lettuce (NOT as a salad…just plain lettuce with no dressing), etc… all of those are so much more successful than me putting veggies in things. We tell them to eat those first when they are hungry and haven’t filled up on other foods. Once they have done that they can eat whatever. That seems to work well. And we say that if they complain, they don’t get the other stuff!

    But like you, I add veggies to everything I make so that I can get them used to the taste slowly. I made a crazy healthy lasagna the other day and Reid actually gave it a 5, on a scale of 1-10! I almost cried I was so happy! Slow and steady wins the race!

    Thanks for good ideas!

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says

      I love your rating game Brittany. Well I know mine are still young so I am not giving up yet. I can’t wait for the day to see them eat the variety of veggies we eat. For now they like the basics. I always give them plain veggies but I am amazed at how they can detect anything made with veggies too. It’s quite amazing! Thank goodness they eat their vitamins and minerals worth from fruit every day. 😉 Have a great weekend!

  2. says

    They look delicious to me! Not sure what my kids would think, but I’m willing to try {just means more for me if they don’t eat theirs :-)} My best tricks for getting my kids to eat new veggies are 1. Persistance!!! I keep offering. My son who is 9 will finally eat a tiny bit of lettuce now on occasion. BUT, he had to try it on his own terms! 2. I let them pick recipes {love the Meal Makeover Mom’s Cookbooks} to try and cook with me. They will often try new veggies this way, and are reluctant to say they don’t like the dish since they made it themselves :-)

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