Mar 25, 2013

Vegan “Meatballs”

Vegan meatballs? I know. That’s an oxymoron. But what should we call them? Bean Balls? That sounds like some kind of kid’s athletic toy. Neat Balls? Hokie. No-Meat Balls? I don’t think so. If you come up with something clever, let me know!

It took a few tries to get this one right. These cute little balls are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside with just the right amount of flavors. No, they don’t taste exactly like MEATballs. But they’re yummy just the same and have lots of plant-healthy protein.  I served these over brown rice pasta and jokingly told my sweetie that we were having rice and beans for dinner… well, we were!


  • 1 medium sized onion
  • ½ pound mushrooms (baby portobellos are good for this but any kind will do)
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 TBS chopped parsley
  • 1 TBS paprika
  • 1 TBS Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or salt to taste
  • 1 tsp unrefined, minimally processed sugar, such as date or coconut sugar
  • 1 TBS tomato paste
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 TBS flaxmeal + 4 TBS water
  • 2 cups cooked pinto beans, drained
  • 1 – 1 ¼ cups whole grain breadcrumbs (I make my own with Ezekiel bread–see notes)
  • ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
  • almond parmesan cheeze to garnish
  • small amount of olive oil for shaping the balls
before and after baking

  1. Chop the onions, garlic and mushrooms and water sauté until the onions are soft and the mushrooms have given up most of their water content.
  2. Add onion mixture and all remaining ingredients, except breadcrumbs and sunflower seeds, to a food processor and pulse until well mixed (if the onion/mushroom mixture is still watery, don’t add any of the liquid!).
  3. Add the breadcrumbs, about ½ cup at a time until you reach a consistency where the mixture will hold together. You don’t want it too dry. Just so that you can pick up a bit and it will hold the form of a 1-2” ball.
  4. Add the sunflower seeds last, and pulse just enough to combine without breaking them up. These add a nice little extra crunch on the inside! You can also use raw pine nuts instead, which would be great. They are costly though. If you find a good source, please email me.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degreed F.
  6. Coat your hands with a bit of olive oil and shape the balls. I use a 1” ice cream scoop to get them started. Yes, it can be messy and you’ll probably have to wash your hands a few times in the process. If you have someone who can help you, have them scoop out the bean mixture and place it in your hands. Kids love to help with cooking projects like this!
   7.  Place the balls on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Then
        flip them over (carefully) and bake another 20-25 minutes.
   8.  Top with some almond parmesan cheeze. Delizioso!

Makes about 30. Enjoy!

Helyn’s Notes: It’s so easy to make your own breadcrumbs! Just save all the heels of your breads that you aren’t going to use. Keep them in a small ziplock bag in the freezer. When your bag is full, lay the slices on a cookie sheet and bake at the lowest setting on your oven. When the bread is completely dried out, pop the slices in a food processor or high powdered blender and blend until you have the desired consistency. That’s it!

P.S. Do you like my new header? 🙂

Healthy trails,

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