Mini Veggie-Filled Meatballs for Baby

meatballs
Yesterday morning I made miniature meatballs for Mason. I mixed up the ground beef (you can also use turkey), shredded carrot, chopped spinach, homemade applesauce, onion, egg, and breadcrumbs Tuesday night after Bug went to bed and let the ingredients chill in the refrigerator overnight so that the bread crumbs could absorb moisture and flavor. Since Mason and I were up at the crack of dawn Wednesday morning, and he was fully absorbed in his new toy computer, I decided to shape and bake the meatballs before work so Bug could try one for lunch.

The recipe is from Better Homes and Gardens, where I work as a digital food editor, and it was inspired by the White House Kitchen Garden. I love that it’s super simple to make and that it’s an “all-in-one” meal with lots of veggies, fruit, and protein. I also love how versatile meatballs are. Next time I can make them with ground turkey and add in just about any veggie I like (sweet peppers, perhaps?).

Even babies as young as 8 months old can eat the meatballs. For Mason, who turned 11 months old on Tuesday, I cut the meatballs into tiny pieces that he could pick up and feed himself. If he were younger, I would have mashed up the meatball with a fork and fed it to him in small bites from a spoon. Mason enjoyed his meatball with brown rice penne pasta in tomato sauce. I couldn’t resist taking a taste — it was so yummy I think the whole family is going to have pasta and meatballs this weekend!

Below is my variation of BHG’s Mini Turkey Meatballs recipe. Do you make homemade meatballs? If so, what do you put in them? If not, what kind do you like to buy at the store?


Mini Veggie-Filled Meatballs

Ingredients

1 egg
1/2 cup jarred or homemade applesauce (recipe below)
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup chopped spinach
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 lb. lean ground beef or turkey
1/2 cup soft whole wheat bread crumbs

Directions

1. In a small bowl stir together the egg, applesauce, sweet potato, green onions, salt, and pepper.

2. In a large bowl combine turkey and bread crumbs. Fold egg mixture into turkey mixture; mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours. (This step is important for the bread crumbs to absorb moisture and flavor.)

3. Heat oven to 450°F. Shape turkey mixture in 1-inch diameter balls. Place meatballs on a foil-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until no pink remains (170°F).

4. Serve meatballs with spaghetti and sauce or as a pizza topper.

5. For easy shaping, turn the turkey mixture onto waxed paper. Pat it into a 9×8-inch rectangle, then cut 36 equal-size squares. Roll the squares into balls. Or shape meatballs by using a small cookie scoop, occasionally dipping the scoop in water to prevent the meat from sticking.


Makes 36 mini meatballs.
For freezing directions see the recipe on BHG.com.


Homemade Applesauce


Ingredients

4 Gala apples
Water


Directions

Wash, peel, core, and dice apples. Cook until tender (about 12 minutes). Puree until smooth.  Add water if needed. Makes 16 ounces. Freeze leftovers for up to three months.

*Shameless plug: For more healthy recipes for your whole family, check out the new Veggie Love tablet app that I helped create for Better Homes and Gardens. It has 50+ veggie-packed recipes, plus tips for how your kids can help make them.


Image: BHG.com

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  1. by Jill Cordes

    On July 25, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    I am totally making these! What is the applesauce for? Does it make them sweet or help bind? Just curious….

  2. by Jill

    On July 27, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Fabulous, Jill — please LMK how it goes. The applesauce makes ‘em moist:)

  3. by Kristan

    On January 2, 2012 at 10:02 am

    The ingredient list calls for carrots, but the instructions mention sweet potatoes. Am I right to assume they’re interchangeable here? A little clarification would be great. Thanks.

  4. by Andrea

    On September 7, 2012 at 9:09 am

    I just threw these together during my 10 mo. old son’s nap this morning. I made a few changes so we will see how they taste when I cook them tonight!

    I had some leftover organic apple/sweet potato puree and used that instead of apple sauce. I used shallot instead of onion, did not add spinach and used a no-salt italian seasoning. I added some roasted red peppers as well. I also doubled the recipe and used part ground beef part turkey because I had two packages to use up.

    Can’t wait to see how they taste!