Monday, January 28, 2013

Lentil Balls (The New Veggie Meatball)

So here's a personal fact that I don't tell too many people because of the myriad of "what-you're-such-a-weirdo" type looks I've received in the past upon divulging it. Having been a vegetarian since I was 10, I never got the chance to experience real meatballs more than once or twice. They always kind of weirded me out as a kid, to be perfectly honest. But recently the idea of a little something extra on top of pasta, the all american meatball sub, Italian wedding soup etc..has started to seem somewhat appealing. But whats the key missing ingredient here? Meatballs. No I decided to substitute the meat for lentils, a hearty, meaty textured ingredient. I kind of experimented a lot with this recipe and I'm sure I'll still make some more tweaks to it in the future, but for the moment these Lentil Balls turned out wonderfully. They are thick and meaty and taste great! This recipe makes about 32 balls, that's way too many to eat in one sitting so feel free to wrap the rest in tin foil and freeze em up.

Lentil Balls
1.5 Cups Green Lentils
2 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
2 cups oatmeal
1/3 cup vital wheat gluten
1/2 tsp tumeric
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 egg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchement paper
2. Cook Lentils according to directions on the bag in a large pot
3. In a separate pan, heat the olive oil and sautee the garlic, onion and pepper until soft and translucent. Add the tumeric and smoked paprika and sautee a minute longer until the spices are aromatic.
4. Once the lentils are done, let them cool for a few minutes. Once cooled, mix the egg into them. Add the sauteed veggies, nutritional yeast, balsamic vinegar and vital wheat gluten into the lentils. Work this into the mixture.
5. Add the oatmeal one half cup and a time and make sure it is thoroughly incorporated into the lentil mixture. Take an immersion blender (or use a few pulses on a food processor) and blend roughly some of the mixture, so that some of it is chunky and some is not. This gives good binding texture to the balls.
6. Salt and pepper the mixture to your liking.
7. With your hands scoop up about two tablespoons of the mixture and form into a ball and repeat until the mixture is gone. Space them about an inch and a half apart from each other.
8. Bake the balls for 20 minutes, then flip them and bake for another 10. Let them cool and enjoy them however you'd like!

Some Ideas:

With Pasta & Tomato Sauce:

Health Benefits!!
Lentils- high protein, high fiber, help lower cholesterol, good source of complex carbohydrates, rich in iron, high in magnesium
Red Bell Pepper- Low calorie and fat, super high in vitamin C, vitamin A and folate, high in fiber and wonderful antioxidants!

Onion-strong antimicrobial benefits, contains sulfides lowering blood lipids and blood cholesterol, contain flavanoids which are known to help protect against cardiovascular disease, high sulfur content for anticlotting agent.
Garlic- Contains allicin, an incredibly medicinal component, especially in raw garlic. Allicin can help prevent high blood pressure, aid in digestion, aid in inflammation reduction, help prevent and cure cold, and much much more!
Vital Wheat Gluten- Super duper high in protein, high in calcium, and high in iron
Tumeric- has high levels of curcumin, which is an antioxidant and can help improve digestive function. Has also been shown to aid in relieving arthritis related pains. Has also been shown to help prevent alzheimer's disease.
Nutritional Yeast- one of the few non-animal sources of vitamin B-12, rich in folic acid, amino acids, also rich in iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and many more. It is considered a nutritional power house, especially for vegetarians.
Oats- High in soluble fiber, oats have been shown to lower cholesterol levels, help promote healthy digestion, oats stabilize blood sugar levels, lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, high in selenium which helps antioxidant systems throughout the body, and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and heart failure.


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