Now that we’re all home more we’re paying more attention to all. The. Things. Like…

Our immediate surroundings (our home y’all!).

Our relationships – with folks who live with us & those who don’t.

And FOOD. We’re paying more attention to food! Good, bad or indifferent.

Well y’all know I cook everyday at least once. Lately I’ve been eating more than I cook! Good thing I have a few good tricks up my sleeve to make some of our family faves more healthy.

First up… meatballs! My family LOVES meatballs. Doesn’t matter what’s in them as long as they are GOOD. And have gravy.

When I make meatballs, I take the opportunity to sneak in some colorful goodness with any veg I happen to have on hand. Most recently, I made this exact recipe over in my Instagram stories. They were a hit & since so many people asked about them, I thought I’d share the recipe & technique here on the blog!

I hope you enjoy these sneaky veggie meatballs!


  • 1lb ground meat – choose your favorite, I use a combination of beef & turkey
  • 1 shredded carrot
  • 1 stalk chopped celery
  • 1/4 chopped onion
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2 chopped radishes
  • 1/4 c bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • seasoning (cumin seed, salt, pepper, cajun seasoning)

The Process:

Hand mix everything in a medium/large mixing bowl. DO NOT OVER MIX.

Coat the bottom of a high sided pan with oil – EVOO is my choice.

Form the meat mixture into balls with a melon baller, small ice cream scoop, or with your hands. Drop into the COLD pan of oil in 1 layer leaving some space in between each meatball.

As you can see from the video, I added another little surprise in addition to the veg. That was fun!

I browned up all the meatballs on medium heat for about 7-10 minutes per side. Be warned… Don’t flip them before they are ready!

In fact I don’t flip them at all. I just shake the pan – when they’re ready, they will roll around on their own.

After the meatballs are all browned up, I move them over to a plate & add a little flour to the pan – no more than 1/4 cup.

Brown the flour then add water, starting with 1/2 cup. Bring that to a bubble then taste for seasoning. Add salt & pepper as needed.

Put the meatballs back into the pan, add more water – up to a full cup – and stir to coat the meatballs. At this point you can taste & adjust the seasoning again if you want. If not, just…

Let it simmer until the gravy thickens and guess what…


Substitutions & tips for making beef & veggie meatballs:

  • Use any ground meat you like – beef, turkey, chicken, pork, bison, lamb. I’ve used all of them & we’ve loved them all. I’ve even made veggie meatballs with Italian sausage by removing the meat from the casing & mixing it as I would any other ground meat. The advantage of Italian sausage is you get to use much less seasoning, if any at all!
  • Use any combination of veggies you like. Anything works with the exception of “wet veg” like cucumbers, lettuce, or tomatoes – save those for the salad or wraps. {Mmmmm…. yes, use veggie meatballs in lettuce wraps!} This is also a great time to use up any veg that might be close to expiring.
  • If you make these with cheese in the middle, use any cheese you & your family love! Just make sure the meat completely covers the cheese or you’ll have a mess in your pan that’s NO FUN to clean. Ask me how I know…
  • You could also just add shredded cheese to the meat mixture itself. When I do it that way, I prefer to bake them at 350° on parchment paper lined baking sheet. (I actually bake my meatballs often whether I add cheese or not.)
  • If you choose to bake the meatballs, just make your sauce separately on the stove top (instead of trying to make meatball gravy).
  • To make them completely vegetarian, skip the meat & use lentils (or any bean you like). It also makes a great veggie burger.
  • Looking for a vegan option? Use beans in place of the meat and an egg substitute. I like ground flaxseeds mixed with a bit of water because of the extra boost of nutrition. Tofu is another option.
Italian sausage veggie meatballs with Penne pasta
Italian sausage & veggie meatballs with Penne pasta
  • What do you serve with veggie meatballs? Anything you want!
    • Got gravy? Serve them with rice or smashed potatoes.
    • Traditional Italian with pasta & all the fixings.
    • Sauce or no sauce? Serve as appetizers or snacks. Stick toothpicks in them to make them easy (& fun) to dip & eat.
    • Not enough veg for you? Roast up some veggies to serve alongside.

If you decide to try these beef & veggie meatballs (and I hope you do), let me know what you think. What substitutions did you make & how did they turn out?

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