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Thanks to the iron and protein from the beef, lycopene from the tomato sauce and energy-producing carbs from the pasta, spaghetti and meatballs can be a healthy trifecta. If you stick to modest portions and lean beef, you can enjoy its benefits without overdoing it. Limit yourself to three ounces of meat and a cup of cooked pasta per serving. Pump up the health benefits by using whole-wheat pasta and adding mushrooms to the meatballs to add fiber and cut fat.
Here’s my recipe for healthy spaghetti and meatballs:
1 slice whole-wheat sandwich bread, ground into coarse crumbs
8 ounces ground sirloin
1 medium onion, chopped
1 portobello mushroom, stem removed and chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped fine, with stems removed
1 large egg white
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed by hand
1/2 cup low-sodium beef broth
1 small bunch fresh basil, chopped fine, with stems removed
3 sprigs fresh thyme
8 ounces whole-wheat
Use a food processor to make the sandwich bread into coarse crumbs. In a large bowl, mix the bread crumbs with the beef, 1/4 cup onion, mushroom, 1 tablespoon garlic, parsley, and egg white. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Form into 20 meatballs. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large saucepan and add remaining onion and garlic. Cook until tender. Stir in the tomatoes, broth basil and thyme. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes. Add the meatballs and continue to simmer without stirring, until the meatballs are partially cooked, about 10 minutes. Turn the meatballs; cook 10 minutes more or until fully cooked.
Cook the pasta to desired doneness in boiling, lightly salted water. Drain. Serve with sauce and meatballs.