Vegan Meatballs

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My parents came to visit last week for a few days and it’s always an adventure to try to make everyone happy at meal time. We all eat so differently so it’s not exactly a simple process, but I love a chance to get creative and also to sneak a few things past my Dad. Mom is a vegetarian. Dad is a junk food junkie that hates all things healthy. The Kid has a dairy allergy.

Believe it or not, I seem to be the simple one! ROFL, go figure out that mystery. I try to look for meals where you can swap out proteins, add/remove cheese, and other quick and easy modifications. One of the best ways I found to please everyone is to start with a vegan idea and add from there. It solves the dairy and vegetarian issue without any effort. Add a protein for me, and toss in some meat and cheese for Dad. Boom, and done.

I decided to whip up a vegan batch of  Kitchen Sink Chicken Soup using veggie broth and, duh, leaving out the chicken. To give it more of a zing and make it fancy, I threw together little vegan “meat” balls to go in the soup and make it more of a vegan Italian Wedding Soup.  I added Italian sausage for the meat-eaters in the group, and I tossed cheese on the top and melted it for Dad.

The meatballs are really simple to make and they had great flavor. You can use them just about any place that you’d use meatballs – in soup, on a hoagie with tomato sauce and cheese, in pasta, dip them in BBQ sauce. You can also change up the flavor by adding different spices. I used a can of blackeyed peas since they were left from New Years. Don’t feel like you have to use those. Any type of canned bean works – cannellini, kidney, black. If you can mash them, you can use them.

Vegan Meatballs Vegan Meatballs

  • 15 oz can blackeyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup (50g) yellow onion, diced
  • 1 heaping Tbsp (10g) panko bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp (12g) nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with foil. Spray the foil lightly with non-stick spray. Drain and rinse the blackeyed peas. Smash the peas with the flat side of your knife on a cutting board. Be careful with the knife and watch that you don’t cut yourself. 🙂 You want them slightly mashed, but small pea chunks are fine and add to the texture of the meatballs. You don’t need them pureed.

Measure out the remaining ingredients into a bowl and add the mashed peas. Squish them with your hands for the easiest way to mix, but you can also use a fork or spoon if you’re more of a neat freak. Make sure it’s mixed well. Roll the mixture into small balls about a tablespoon in size. Place them on the cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes until browned.

Remove from oven and use like… meatballs!

Makes approximately 31 meatballs at approximately 13 calories each – 1g protein, 2g carbs, and less than 1g fat.

Seriously, 13 calories for a “meat” ball. No meat can even come close to that. Not to mention the added fiber you get. I even splurged and had a bunch in my soup.  Make sure if you’re using them in soup or a sauce that you don’t add the meatballs until right before serving. Otherwise they’ll turn to mush. I also found that they were even better the following day as leftovers since they held up very well.

Do you ever have to make different meals for family members? I always try to make some ingredients interchangeable so that everyone can make it their own.

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