Bolster the vitamins and flavor in a classic turkey meatball recipe with some butternut squash puree. The kids will never know! Thanks to General Mills for helping me share this recipe with you.
Here’s the deal. My kids are pretty good eaters. When it comes to fruits and veggies, there is a pretty wide array that they will dig into and they will always try something at least once. Whether my husband, Steve, and I had something to do with this or they were just born that way, we thank our lucky stars that they have a pretty balanced diet. But when it comes to butternut squash or sweet potatoes, they stick up their noses.
Every day Steve and I witness the difficulties that parents face when their kids have a very restrictive diet. Yes, there are a couple of our friends who struggle with this with their kids, but it is something that we see regularly at work. You see, Steve and I work with kids diagnosed with autism, and many of the kids have food refusal issues that frustrate their parents to the point of tears. They wonder how their children will get the proper nutrients to grow and thrive.
Of course, this is not a problem specific to autism. Many children eat a limited selection of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.
There are different schools of thought on slipping vegetables into kids’ foods. Some ask, “Shouldn’t we be teaching them to eat and appreciate the fresh form of the vegetable rather than sneaking it into food?”
The rebuttal is often, “If I can’t get my kids to eat the vegetables, or it’s going to take a long time to reach that place, what’s the harm in bolstering some of our regular recipes with a dose of pureed vegetables?”
I understand both sides of the arguments. But for some of the kids we work with, it sometimes takes weeks or months for them to accept a new food. In the meantime, parents do their best to work pureed vegetables or fruits into smoothies or other recipes.
For our own boys, I would love for them to benefit from the vitamins in butternut squash, whether or not they are ready to eat our favorite Hearty Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash & Quinoa.
We are true-blue meatballs lovers in our house, so I decided to switch up one of our favorite meatball recipes by adding some butternut squash puree in the form of Veggie Blend-Ins, which is made from 100% pure butternut squash.
Could you simply make your own butternut squash puree and store it in the freezer? Of course you could. But I know that we all get bogged down in the day-to-day rush of work, school, activities…I get it. Sometimes a little convenience goes a long way in maintaining one’s sanity.
I tossed all of our regular turkey meatball ingredients in a bowl and added one package of the butternut squash puree. Cut and squeeze. That’s it! To compensate for the extra moisture, I increased the amount of breadcrumbs.
So, what did my kids think? To be honest, they didn’t notice a difference. I could taste a slight sweetness from the butternut squash, but it was only discernible because I knew it was there.
I asked, “So, how was dinner guys?”
“Awesome as always, Mum. Can we have meatballs every night?” Success!
Other meatball recipes:
Cookin’ Canuck’s Cannellini Bean Vegetarian “Meatballs” with Tomato Sauce
Cookin’ Canuck’s Italian Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
The Perfect Pantry’s Curried Turkey Meatballs
Yummy Addiction’s Pork & Beef Meatballs Stuffed with Avocado
Baked Butternut Squash & Turkey Meatballs Recipe
- 1 1/4 lb. ground turkey
- 1/2 onion, grated
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cups breadcrumbs, preferably whole wheat
- 1/2 cup Veggie Blend-Ins butternut squash
- 1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
- 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground pepper
- Your favorite tomato sauce
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, stir together the ground turkey, onion, garlic, egg, breadcrumbs, pureed butternut squash, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper until combined.
- Using a rounded 2-tablespoon portion of the meat mixture, form meatballs by rolling between the palms of your hands. Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly.
- Bake until the meatballs are firm to the touch and cooked through, about 20 minutes.
- Heat your favorite tomato sauce in a large saucepan. Add the meatballs and simmer for a few minutes. Serve the meatballs and sauce over cooked pasta or rice.