1 pound lean ground turkey
1/4 cup dried minced onion
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup bread crumbs
1 can (14.5oz) all-natural diced tomatoes, no-salt added (if you really like a chunky sauce, add an additional can of tomatoes)
1 can 100 percent natural tomato sauce
In a large mixing bowl, combine all meatball ingredients until they are mixed consistently.
Roll the turkey mixture into 1-inch uniform balls.
Place the diced tomatoes and sauce into a Crockpot or slow-cooker. Place the meatballs in the sauce one by one, trying not to put them all on top of each another. Cover the cooker and set it to low for 8-10 hours. About halfway through, stir well. If the sauce is too runny upon completion, stir in a small amount of tomato paste to thicken.
Serve along with your favorite whole-grain pasta and enjoy.
Any time I am invited to a party or potluck event that requires a dish, I almost always go with my “famous” meatballs and sauce. This no-fail dish always gets rave reviews from friends and family. Just last weekend I made up a Crockpot full to bring to a work function and they were a hit. I especially look forward to the part where I get to tell people that they are made with turkey — not beef. I often get puzzled looks and many “no way!” comments because it’s hard to believe. But — “yes, way” — it’s turkey.
I swapped ground beef for ground turkey in my recipe years ago while on a diet and I haven’t gone back. Not only is lean ground turkey healthier, it saves me from having to skim off a layer of fat from the top of the pot every time I make the meatballs. Better still, no one — not even my husband — noticed a change in the taste. In fact, I think my family may even like the turkey meatballs better.
Out of curiosity, I sat down and did some research on just how much healthier it is to use turkey instead of beef in my meatball recipe. I was amazed by what I found. I searched for a traditional Italian meatball-and-sauce recipe and found one similar to my own on www.food.com. A single serving came in at a whopping 894.3 calories per serving — 429 of those calories from fat. That count didn’t even include the pasta that accompanies the sauce and meatballs. That is a lot of calories! It also boasted 2,211.1 milligrams of sodium, which amounts to 92 percent of our daily value.
So, the next time you plan to sit down to a spaghetti-and-meatball feast at your house, whip of a batch of turkey meatballs using my easy recipe, which will cut out more than half the fat and sodium of the traditional recipe. Resist the urge to add salt to this recipe; it doesn’t need it because there is enough natural sodium in the sauce. Ground turkey doesn’t hold together quite as well as ground beef, but don’t add more bread crumbs, which will add calories and carbohydrates. Just stick to the recipe and add no more than a cup. The meatballs only need enough breadcrumbs to hold together so they can be rolled into balls. Once they are placed in the sauce to cook, do not stir them until they are cooked through so that you don’t smash and break them up.