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Dinner tonight: Kid-friendly turkey meatball lollipops with noodles

Turkey meatball lollipops are a fun and healthy addition to dinner tonight!
Photo by Melissa McKechnie

Only one word describes these meatballs: Yum! Nothing says comfort like a big plate of decadent meatballs and noodles, and while winter is still upon us, comfort food is just what the doctor ordered. Yet, comfort food does not have to be decadent, or unhealthy. With whole grains, ground turkey, and tons of sneaky veggies, grown-ups and kids alike will love this simple and easy meal. Just don't tell them they're healthy and they will never know what hit them. It's our little secret. The meatballs can also be paired on their own with the marinara sauce for dipping for a warm and tasty after school snack! They are the perfect treat for taking the chill off of a cold wintry day.

Note: Pressed for time? Just make the meatballs the night or morning before and chill until ready to use. Then just brown them up and serve. Save the leftover meatballs in a sealed container and reheat for meatball sandwiches or snacks.

Wine note: If serving the meatballs with the noodles and marinara sauce, then a nice, earthy red wine will do the trick. I recommend going with something with a bite, but not too heavy to overpower the lightness of the ground turkey, such as a Chianti (Chianti Classico, Chianti Region, Italy), Pinot Noir (Fess Parker Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara CA), or Zinfandel (Santa Barbara Winery Primitivo, Santa Barbara CA).

1/8 cup minced onion
1/8 cup finely minced carrots
1/8 cup finely minced red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning (salt-free)
2 tablespoons fresh chopped italian parsley
1 clove garlic crushed
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 egg, beaten
1 pound ground turkey breast
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 pound whole wheat spaghetti noodles, cooked according to package directions
1 jar favorite all natural marinara sauce or 2 cups of the seriously simple, garden fresh home made sauce
Small toothpicks with the sharp tips trimmed off

  1. In a large bowl, combine the first eight (or nine if using pepper flakes) ingredients. Add the egg and mix well.
  2. Add the ground turkey and mix until the ingredients are all equally distributed. Do not over mix!
  3. Using a large melon baller (or your best judgment), shape the mixture into ½ to ¾ inch meatballs. These tend to be the perfect size for a single bite, but you could make them larger or smaller depending on your preference.
  4. Chill the meatballs for 10 to 20 minutes. This allows them to set and stay together while cooking. You can also make them ahead and chill overnight.
  5. Heat oil in a large skillet. Brown the meatballs in small batches over medium-high heat, turning frequently, until cooked through. Set aside. Note: If making meatballs that are larger than 1 inch, then brown in the skillet and finish cooking the meatballs through in a 350 degree oven.
  6. While cooking the meatballs, prepare the garden fresh marinara sauce (click here for the recipe) or the jar of all natural marinara sauce.
  7. Cook noodles according to the package directions. Do not over cook. Noodles should be al dente (cooked through but still firm).
  8. To serve, place a trimmed toothpick (clip the sharp tip off with kitchen shears) in a meatball to turn it into a lollipop. Place a small amount of pasta, sauce, and three to four meatball lollipops, depending on the size, onto a plate. Round out the meal with steamed green beans or a small salad. Enjoy!
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