I know I said that the baby food series was done, but I thought of one more recipe that I just had to share with you. My daughter is not a big fan of meat of any kind, and I find it difficult to prepare meat that is soft enough for my one-year old to eat on his own (he only wants to feed himself these days!). With those considerations in mind, these meatballs have been a wonderful addition to our family dinners. They are healthy, versatile and easy to make ahead since they can be frozen for later use. Unlike many meatballs, these do not contain any eggs, dairy or gluten (if made with gluten-free oats) making them a great entree for babies or kids with food allergies. They can be served in a traditional tomato sauce over spaghetti, simmered in soup, or eaten plain like chicken nuggets. Of course, these don’t have to be “mini” meatballs; I just think they are cute that way and a good bite-size for kids. You can form them in any size or shape that you wish, but keep in mind that larger meatballs will need to bake longer.
I’m not totally on board with the hide-veggies-in-their-food concept, but the vegetables in these meatballs really do add great color and flavor, as well as some needed moisture in the absence of egg. The additional vitamins and fiber are also nice, of course!
- 1/2 cup oats (gluten-free oats, if desired)
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1 small zucchini, grated
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
- 1/2 cup yellow onion, peeled and grated
- 1/2 cup baby spinach leaves, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 large cookie sheets or half-sheet pans with parchment paper. Blend the oats in a food processor until they are ground into a powder.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground up oats, chicken, vegetables and spices. Mix gently with a fork or your fingers until combined. Measure out 1/2 Tablespoon of the chicken mixture at a time and roll into balls, placing them in rows on the parchment lined pans.
- Bake the meatballs in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until they just begin to brown and are cooked through. To freeze: You can either freeze the meatballs raw or after cooking. Either way, just freeze the meatballs on a cookie sheet until they are solid, then place the frozen meatballs in a freezer container or zip top bag. Can be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw meatballs in the refrigerator for several hours before cooking or reheating.