Meatballs made their debut in America during the 19th century when Italians migrated to the States and started dishing them up with spaghetti—and we’re forever grateful. Although a lot has changed since then, meatball mania has only gotten better and better. They’ve made their way out of spaghetti bowls and onto kabobs, into soups and consistently hold their own against other apps at the party table. Between chicken, ground turkey, grass-fed beef, pork, and veggie, there is something on this list for every dieter. Check out these miniature bites of hearty joy and then don’t miss these 11 Italian Foods They Won’t Eat in Italy to brush up on your fun fact chit chat!
BUFFALO CAULIFLOWER QUINOA MEATBALLS
Nutrition: 152 calories, 7 g fat (4.9 g saturated), 375 mg sodium, 18.8 g carbs, 2.3 g fiber, 1.4 g sugar, 4.2 g protein
Cauliflower is sneaking its way into everything from pizza, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and rice recipes to meatballs—and leaving behind a celebrity makeover in its wake. We have to give credit where credit is due, and the cruciferous veg is transforming calorie-laden, carb monsters into slimming belly pleasers. Did we mention this recipe also has hot sauce swag, meaning it’ll rev up your metabolism, too? In the words of Beyonce—this recipe is f-l-a-w-l-e-s-s.
Get the recipe from The Almond Eater.
ITALIAN MEATBALL MINESTRONE SOUP
Nutrition: 342 calories, 6.5 g fat (1.8 g saturated), 193 mg sodium, 43.8 g carbs, 9 g fiber, 5.2 g sugar, 27.8 g protein
This soup is brimming with nutrient-rich veggies, protein-packed lean beef meatballs, and waist-shrinking fibrous beans. In fact, beans contain a special kind of fiber that resists digestion, keeping you fuller longer and on the road to your better body goals.
Get the recipe from The Cozy Apron.
HAWAIIAN BBQ CHICKEN MEATBALLS
Nutrition: 228 calories, 7.6 g fat (2.1 g saturated), 425 mg sodium, 12.4 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 3.3 g sugar, 26.3 g protein
If you’re eating something marinated in BBQ sauce, you can almost guarantee it’s full of sugar, sodium, and skanky ingredients—thanks to processed sauce. And while sodium is an essential nutrient (aiding in bodily fluid balance, maintaining blood volume, and moderating blood pressure), excessive sodium intake raises blood pressure and causes fluid retention. This recipe is an exception to the rule because it’s made with a homemade BBQ sauce, so we were all over it!
Get the recipe from Little Spice Jar.
BACON CHEESEBURGER MEATBALLS
Nutrition: 111 calories, 7.8 g fat (3.5 g saturated), 329 mg sodium, 3.9 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 2.1 g sugar, 7.8 g protein
You won’t even miss the nutrient-void bun with these bacon cheeseburger meatballs. Whether you pair them with a salad or grilled veggies, serve them as an app, or just use them to put the thrill back into dinner, we promise that your taste buds won’t be disappointed. Just make sure to opt for grass-fed beef, which is naturally higher in protein and null of sketchy chemicals and hormones.
Get the recipe from An Affair From The Heart.
CHICKEN NUGGET MEATBALLS
Nutrition: 175 calories, 5 g fat (1.4 g saturated), 57 mg sodium, 12.4 g carbs, <1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 18.8 g protein (calculated without salt)
Apparently, chicken nugget meatballs are a thing—and we’re into it. Aside from being a creative way to get your munchkins to expand their diet and nutrient intake, they’ll even have you smitten.
Get the recipe from I Breathe, I’m Hungry.
ROASTED GARLIC ROSEMARY BAKED MEATBALLS
Nutrition: 245 calories, 8.3 g fat (2.6 g saturated), 136 mg sodium, 6.6 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 34 g protein
Both fresh rosemary and garlic are sources of an antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral chemicals. Plus, the herbs house several antioxidant essential oils such as cineol, camphene, borneol, and bornyl acetate. So, if you needed any more of a reason to roast these flavorful meatballs, a serious health boost should do it.
Get the recipe from Will Cook For Smiles.
Nutrition: 259 calories, 12 g fat (3 g saturated), 660 mg sodium, 30 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 10 g protein
From zoodles to zoats, zucchinis are one of the most versatile veggies around. And with a super low calorie and carb content and adaptable taste, they can be snuck into almost any recipe and improve the nutritional profile. For more ways to slim down your meals with the super squash, check out these 20 Zucchini recipes for Weight loss.
Get the recipe from Skinny Taste.
Nutrition: 265 calories, 14.4 g fat (6.4 g saturated), 371 mg sodium, 7.9 g carbs, <1 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 25 g protein
Skip Ikea and whip up this homemade Scandinavian favorite. No only will you save 85 calories and 609 milligrams of sodium , but you’ll get 10 more grams of satiating protein. Sounds like a no brainer to us.
Get the recipe from Damn Delicious.
ASIAN CHICKEN MEATBALL LETTUCE WRAPS
Nutrition: 378 calories, 12.8 g fat (3.5 g saturated), 314 mg sodium, 20.2 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 9.2 g sugar, 43.4 g protein
Lettuce wraps are an amazing way to enjoy your favorite foods that may not necessarily align with your body goals. Although this recipe isn’t as low in carbohydrates as most, it’s got a ton of protein, a macronutrient that boosts metabolic activity, increases satiety, and even helps the body retain muscle while frying flab.
Get the recipe from Just a Taste.
MOZZERELLA STUFFED TURKEY MEATBALLS
Nutrition: 291 calories, 16.9 g fat (4 g saturated), 403 mg sodium, 17.2 g carbs, 4.2 g fiber, 6.2 g sugar, 19.1 g protein
It’s hard to imagine anything more divine than biting into a juicy meatball and finding melted mozzarella inside. To lower the saturated fat content, opt for part-skim cheese. While eating full-fat dairy is associated with a smaller frame over time, in a dish like this, there’s so much to obsess about; so, you won’t even miss the few extra grams of fat or cals.
Get the recipe from Baker By Nature.
CAULIFLOWER VEGETARIAN MEATBALLS
Nutrition: 319 calories, 14.4 g fat (2.4 g saturated), 424 mg sodium, 37.4 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 11.3 g protein
Just because you don’t eat meat doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the Italian staple. This meatless recipe is made with cauliflower, quinoa, egg, almond flour, garlic, and spices. Not only do they look like the real thing, but the plant-based ingredient list does a fine job of satisfying the occasional meatball hankering. P.S. – You can also use a similar recipe to create meatless burgers!
Get the recipe from Pinch of Yum.
Nutrition: 214 calories, 5.8 g fat (2.1 g saturated), 360 mg sodium, 14.1 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 4.8 g sugar, 25.3 g protein
Despite its name, there aren’t actual porcupines in this recipe—but they do contain long grain rice, giving them a porcupine appearance. To increase its weight-shrinking effects, let the rice cool after it’s cooked. This changes the starches into resistant starches through a process called retrogradation. According to researchers from the College of Chemical Sciences in Sri Lanka, chilling rice overnight can increase the amount of resistant starch 10 times more than traditionally cooked rice, and it has 10-15 percent fewer calories!
Get the recipe from The Recipe Critic.
CHEESY MEATBALL BITES
Nutrition: 267 calories, 17.7 g fat (7.2 g saturated), 659 mg sodium, 14.3 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 3.5 g sugar, 18.5 g protein
Meatball parm addicts, we have a killer recipe for you. It’s tough being on a weight loss diet when you’re an Italian foodie. But with a little portion control and some self control, you don’t have to quit your habit cold turkey. Start here.
Get the recipe from Butter With A Side of Bread.
SLOW COOKER KALE & TURKEY MEATBALL SOUP
Nutrition: 424 calories, 9.1 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 154 mg sodium, 31.8 g carbs, 7.5 g fiber, 2.2 g sugar, 53.2 g protein
Kale’s been stealing the superfood spotlight for a while now—and for good reason. It has one of the highest ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) ratings, promotes urinary health, fights cancer, and aids weight loss. Combined with lean ground turkey meatballs, veggies, and low sodium broth—and a whopping 53.2 grams of slimming protein and just 31.8 grams of sodium per cup—this soup is a rare breed.
Get the recipe from Foodie Crush.
FETA STUFFED GREEK MEATBALLS
Nutrition: 204 calories, 11.1 g fat (2.2 g saturated), 218 mg sodium, 3.5 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 2.5 g sugar, 24.8 g protein
With immunity-boosting lemon juice, antifungal garlic, and satiating feta cheese, these are some wholesome, savory meatballs! Drizzled with a tasty yogurt sauce, this one livens up even the most boring menu. Like our eyes, our palettes like a bit of contrast. To boost the protein count and wiggle into your skinny jeans sooner, opt for Greek yogurt over plain.
*Get the recipe from Sweet Peas and Saffron.
HIBACHI STEAKHOUSE MEATBALLS
Nutrition: 244 calories, 12.6 g fat (5.5 g saturated), 108 mg sodium, 2.2 g carbs, <1 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 29.2 g protein
These low carb, gluten-free steakhouse meatballs are made on the grill…and served kabob style, making them not only more visually appealing and more fun to prepare and eat, but one of the easiest ways to keep your weight in check, thanks to the built-in portion control. (Do you see the theme here?)
Get the recipe from I Breathe, I’m Hungry.
MINI MEATBALL SPAGHETTI PIE
Nutrition: 407 calories, 24 g fat (12 g saturated), 706 mg sodium, 25.4 g carbs, 1.6 g fiber, 3.3 g sugar, 27.8 g protein (calculated with organic tomato sauce)
This recipe is so simple and effortless, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t thought of it sooner. For more simple diet hacks, check out these 20 Easy Ways to Lose Weight Like a Celebrity.
Get the recipe from The Melrose Family.
SKINNY THAI CHICKEN MEATBALLS WITH PEANUT SAUCE
Nutrition: 277 calories, 17.9 g fat (10.6 g saturated), 441 mg sodium, 12.7 g carbs, 1.7 g fiber, 3.4 g sugar, 17 g protein
Ah, peanut butter. The foodie fave contains a plant sterol called beta-sitosterol, which helps manage stress. Studies indicate that it helps balance out the stress hormone cortisol, which is why PB has you dipping into the jar a little too often. Fortunately, when PB is heated, a little bit goes a long way; so you can innocently get your fix! But if you’re consuming peanut butter on a daily basis, check out The 36 Top Peanut Butters—Ranked!
Get the recipe from Jo Cooks.