MEATBALLS!! I never really had meatballs growing up. It just wasn’t a dish that my mom made. Last year as I was scrolling through feeds of beautifully plated meals I saw it: meatballs. I thought… I’ve never eaten meatballs, or made them but let’s give it a whirl! After some trial and error, I trimmed up my favorite meatball flavors and packaged them in this healthy meatballs recipe which I served over spaghetti squash!
Spaghetti squash is a fantastic way to get extra vegetables into your meal! If you’ve been following me on social media for a while, you know I like to get as many vegetables into my main dish as possible. Sometimes veggies sitting on the side of your plate can seem unappetizing. Incorporating them as part of the entree makes them more likely to be eaten!
Nutritionally, spaghetti squash is naturally low in carbohydrate, about 10 grams per 1 cup cooked and it provides a little over 2 g of fiber per cup.
When spaghetti squash is prepared, the “meat” of the vegetable naturally pulls into a noodle-looking shape after being scraped with a fork. It has a nice flavor, and extras are easily refrigerated and reheated. My favorite way to prepare spaghetti squash is baking face-down at 400° for 40 minutes. Check out the full instructions below! If you prefer to serve the meatballs over noodles instead, no problem! Just skip over the spaghetti squash instructions.
Choose lean ground meat for your base. Look for ≥90% lean. Personally, I prefer a 93% lean ground meat for this recipe. You can certainly use ground turkey if you prefer, but I think the flavor is much richer with beef. If you choose too lean of meat (bison or 99% lean turkey), the meatballs will have a hard time sticking together and might fall apart.
To skinny this recipe down, I’ve used a lean ground meat, reduced the amount of breadcrumbs, swapped whole wheat breadcrumbs for regular breadcrumbs, used a fat-free milk and reduced the salt and cheese.
I definitely recommend adding the fresh basil to top off your dish! Fresh herbs really bring depth this recipe. Interestingly, fresh basil is also quite high in vitamin A. See, bonus points for adding more plants to your meal 😊.
I hope you enjoy this recipe! If you try it, write a comment letting me know what you think!
Disclosures: None. This post was not created in affiliation with any product or brand.
Healthy Meatballs Over Spaghetti Squash
- 1 spaghetti squash
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 large egg, slightly beaten
- 1/3 c shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/4 c whole wheat bread crumbs
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic (~2 large garlic cloves)
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper (or to taste)
- 1/4 c fat-free milk
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/4 c chopped parsley (I prefer flat-leaf parsley to curly-leaf parsley)
- 3 c low-sodium pasta sauce, separated separate in half (I used Cucina Antica Tomato Basil Sauce)
- 3 leaves fresh chopped basil leaves (optional, but strongly recommended: for garnish)
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise (this is easiest with a large chef's knife). Remove the seeds by scraping first with a fork to remove and loosen the big chunks and second with a spoon to scrape well. Alternatively, use a grapefruit spoon to remove the seeds and "guts."
- Place spaghetti squash halves facedown on a baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes at 400°F.
- While spaghetti squash is baking, prepare the meatballs. In a large bowl, mix together the egg, parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, pepper, milk, oregano and parsley.
- Add the ground meat and mix well. (It's easiest to incorporate all the ingredients into the meat by massaging it with your hands rather than using a spoon.) Separate into desired meatball size, generally a 1-1 1/2 inch diameter is good for serving.
- Bring 1 1/2 c pasta sauce to a simmer in a non-stick fry pan. Add meatballs. After ~10 minutes, gently flip meatballs. Cook for another 10 minutes or until cooked through thoroughly with internal temperature reaching 165°F. Roll once more in pasta sauce to moisten before removing meatballs from stovetop. Can discard pasta sauce remaining in the saucepan (as it will be a little fatty), or keep for extra topping.
- After spaghetti squash has been baked for 40 minutes, remove from oven. Flip spaghetti squash halves right-side up. Scrape the "meat" of the spaghetti squash. It will begin to pull and reveal its "noodles." Place spaghetti squash noodles into a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Warm remaining 1 1/2 c pasta sauce in the microwave or on the stovetop.
- Plate your meal! Top spaghetti squash with meatballs and pasta sauce as desired. (You will probably not want to use the pasta sauce the meatballs were cooked in as it becomes a little fatty after the meatballs are cooked in it. For best results, use the additional pasta sauce that was warmed separately.)
- Garnish with fresh basil.