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Baked Chicken Meatballs, a Tasty & Healthy Alternative to Chicken Nuggets

Posted Mar 11 2010 12:00am
Lots of kids love chicken nuggets, and lots of parents love the convenience, but why not make a healthier version? This recipe for chicken meatballs uses convenient ground chicken (find it next to the boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the poultry section of your supermarket) and is baked instead of fried, eliminating lots of fat. The meatballs freeze great, too, making it convenient for quick suppers on busy days. The Spicy Italian Tomato Sauce from my last blog post makes a great sauce for these meatballs, and you can put more garlic and oregano in the mixture to turn them into delicious Italian style meatballs. Just be sure to simmer them a bit in the sauce after they are baked. Yum! These freeze great, too, making this a convenient and healthy choice for quick suppers on busy days.

Baked Chicken Meatballs
(Based on an old recipe from Gourmet Magazine)
Serves 4
Difficulty: Super Easy
Prep Time: About 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 - 20 minutes

Ingredients
3 slices whole wheat bread, torn into pieces
1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons low sodium chicken broth
3 ounces lean ham (from the deli)
1 small onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons finely minced red bell pepper (opt.)
1 large egg or equivalent amount of egg substitute
1 pound ground chicken
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon tomato paste

Method
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet cake pan with foil and spray it with vegetable spray.
  • Soak bread in broth until softened, just a couple of minutes, and squeeze out broth, reserving bread. (Discard the broth.)
  • In a medium saute pan sprayed with vegetable oil spray, cook ham, onion, bell pepper, and garlic with the 1-2 tablespoons chicken broth till onion softens a bit. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon EACH of salt and pepper. Set aside to cool a bit.
  • Lightly beat egg in large bowl, then add chicken, ham and onion mixture, bread, parsley and tomato paste.
  • Form 12 meatballs and arrange on foil-covered sheet pan.
  • Bake in uppper third of oven until meatballs are just cooked through, 15-20 minutes.
  • Cool and freeze, or serve hot

Note
For children or hors d'oeuvre: serve meatballs with honey mustard, barbecue sauce, honey, or other favorite "dipping" sauce.

For everyone:
Stuff meatballs into split whole wheat pita bread along with diced onion and tomato and shredded lettuce. Create Tsatsiki sauce by combining non-fat yogurt (Greek is grea!), minced onion, garlic, cucumber, and lemon juice. Serve Tsatsiki sauce with chicken meatball pitas.

To freezeCool and portion into zip lock or Foodsaver bags and freeze for easy meals. Reheat in microwave or in 400 degree oven for 5-10 minutes.

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