Oh the joys of toddlers and meal time. OK maybe I shouldn't be so general and assuming and instead say oh the joys of Ashlyn and meal time. We have our off days and our on days, but when it comes to how much food will be consumed we never know. There are days where she will out eat me, literally she can eat 4 slices of pizza in one sitting, no problem. Then there are the days where I can't figure out how she can function off of a handful of raisins and half of a peanut butter sandwich. One day she likes mushrooms the next she hates them. It is day by day with her eating habits, but there are a few tried and true dinner items that I know she will always eat.
One of those is meatballs, so when we quit eating meat in our house I had to come up with an acceptable alternative. I tried lots of "meat" ball recipes and non of them really satisfied all of us, especially a 2 1/2 year old that loves meat. I finally came up with my own recipe that the whole family will eat. Now, if you are looking for the texture of a meatball these will not do the trick, but if you are looking for a healthy alternative to the traditional meatball I would call this one a winner.
-3 cloves of garlic minced
-2/3 c rolled oats
-1/3 c walnuts
-1 c dried red lentils
-3 c water
-4 cremini mushrooms
-1/2 small zucchini
-6 oz tomato paste
-1 Tbs dried basil
-2 tsp dried oregano
-1 tsp dried thyme
-1/3 c breadcrumbs
-1 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
-olive oil spray *I use an oil mister which is perfect for this*
1. Put your lentils and water in a sauce pan and simmer on medium heat for 20-30 minutes. You want them to be a very mushy consistency. Let the lentils cool. Once cooled add 1 cup of the cooked lentils to a large bowl. You can freeze the leftovers for future use.
2. Saute the onion at medium heat until it turns translucent. Once translucent add the garlic and saute for another minute. Add to the bowl with the lentils.
3. Put the rolled oats and walnuts in a food processor and pulse until you get a fine consistency. Transfer to the lentil bowl.
4. Add the mushrooms to the food processor (no need to clean it out) and pulse until finely chopped. Add the mushrooms to the bowl. Repeat separately with the zucchini and carrot.
5. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix with your hands until everything is fully mixed (you cannot over mix so no worries).
6. Spray a sheet tray with olive oil (or I am sure you could use parchment paper as well)
7. Form your balls *giggle* and place on the sheet tray. I used a 1 Tbsp cookie scoop to get even mini meatballs. I like mini meatballs because they are great finger food for a toddler. *If you do make them larger the cooking time may vary.
8. Spray the "meat" balls with your olive oil spray.
9. Cook for 20 min @ 400 degrees flipping halfway through. Be careful when flipping because they are delicate.
10. Serve with your favorite sauce.
Mark and I enjoyed these as sandwiches and Ashlyn dipped hers. You could definitely serve these with pasta though.
I hope you enjoy this recipe! It is late and I am going to bed, so I hope you have a great day tomorrow!