Healthy Chicken Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash

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A few weeks ago, my mom came to visit me in DC. The reason? I wish I could say it was to support me in some challenging endeavor, or to nurse me back to health. But the truth is that my mom came to visit me just because I wanted family near me that week. I simply said the words, “will you come and visit me?” and POOF! There she was on the next plane out.

Boy was that wish a double-edged sword! Not to imply I had anything short of an amazing week, which I certainly did, but along with my mom’s visit came 4 days of continuous cleaning and reorganizing. As soon as I picked her up from the airport, my mom was like Mary Poppings of the 21st century. With each snap of her fingers, my apartment slowly but surely transformed from organized chaos to a masterpiece of order, cleanliness, and sophistication. (Thanks, Mom!)

We ended Day 1 of cleaning by making one of my mom’s new signature dishes: healthy chicken meatballs. Served alongside roasted spaghetti squash, with organic Rao’s marinara sauce I might add, this meal is not only healthy but also wickedly delicious. For best results, I sincerely recommend the Rao’s brand of sauces. There are no additives or preservatives, no sugar or HFCS, and no ingedients I can’t pronounce.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

Meatballs
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1/2 cup zucchini, shredded
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 can (~4 oz) tomato paste
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbs salt-free Italian seasoning
1 lb organic ground chicken
Salt and Pepper to taste

Spaghetti Squash
1 large spaghetti squash
1 bottle Rao’s homemade marinara sauce
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out seeds. Place squash in a large baking dish, cut side down, and pour 1/2 cup water in bottom of pan. Bake until squash is slightly soft, approximately 40 minutes. Place marinara sauce and crushed red pepper flakes in a small saucepan, and simmer on low.

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbs olive oil in a large saute pan. Add onion, carrot, garlic, and zucchini and saute until soft. Transfer vegetables on a plate and cool until no longer warm to the touch. Once cool, place vegetables, ground chicken, tomato paste, and egg in a large mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix by hand only until combined. Overmixing will cause the meatballs to become hard like hockey pucks. Roll in palms to shape small, 2 inch wide meatballs. Set aside.

Heat remaining 1 Tbs olive oil in a large saute pan, on medium heat. Add meatballs 5-6 at a time and cook, uncovered, until no longer pink in the center. You will need to move the meatballs around occasionally to ensure browning on all sides. Cook in 2-3 more batches until all meatballs are cooked thoroughly.

Remove spaghetti squash from oven, and turn cut side up. Using a fork, gently scrape the squash crosswise and let the squash fall into a bowl like little spaghetti noodles. Toss with warm marinara sauce and top with freshly chopped parlsey. Place meatballs on top of squash, and serve immediately!

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