For the past week my husband and I have been making an effort to eat healthier and work out every day. Cutting carbs is my goal for the next few weeks, and since planning is key for healthy eating, I have been scouring Pinterest for all the best recipes I can find. I came across a recipe for meatball casserole and decided to give it my own twist by using my favorite recipe for healthier baked meatballs. A dish like this would usually have the addition of some kind of pasta or lasagna, but by eliminating it you can cut so many carbs from your dinner and it still is super satisfying and delicious! I also make my meatballs without using any flour or breadcrumbs, so that they are also super low-carb. Sometimes when you are dieting, what you miss most is comfort food, and this is the perfect guilt-free dish to satisfy that craving!
for the meatballs:
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. mild Italian sausage
1 cup chopped spinach
1/4 cup chopped pine nuts
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons each salt and pepper
for the bake:
1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce (my favorite is Rao's homemade marinara sauce- it's available at Kroger and there is NO added sugar or other junk that all other tomato sauces have!)
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese
Italian season, salt + pepper
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. To make the meatballs: mix all your ingredients together in a stand mixer or by hand in a large mixing bowl.
3. Cover a baking sheet or pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick spray.
4. Form your meatball mixture into golf-ball sized meatballs (the smaller they are the quicker they will bake and crispier they will get on the outside). Line your aluminum foil pan with the meatballs.
5. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes until brown on the outside (I like mine a little crispier and more done on the outside but you can bake them to your preference- you may want to flip them halfway through).
6. When your meatballs are done baking turn the oven down to 350 degrees.
7. Line the bottom of a baking dish with a single layer of cooked meatballs, top with your pasta sauce, and then with your cheese. Sprinkle the top with a little salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
8. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until your cheese is melted and bubbling (I turn it up to broil for the last minute or so to get the cheese truly golden brown).
How amazing does that look?! You really can't go wrong with all that cheese and delicious meatballs! These meatballs are so easy to prepare and once you taste how flavorful they are, you will never make them any other way. Baking them makes them perfectly juicy on the inside and allows them to get just a little crispy on the outside. I'm all for getting some sneaky greens wherever you can, so I love the fact that they have tons of spinach while eliminating unnecessary carbs. Pine nuts are one of my favorite ingredients to use when cooking and they give the meatballs just the right amount of nutty flavor and texture. Next time I make it I may add in some more vegetables like zucchini or peppers mixed in with the meat sauce. This is a dinner that tastes so filling and tasty, you would never know it is low-carb!