Brought to you by Cheshire Medical Center

Heart-healthy, delicious, and fun to make with kids — this easy meal is a new take on an old favorite.

Ingredients:

Beanballs
Cooking spray or parchment paper
1 1/2 cans or 3 cups cooked, drained kidney beans (look for beans without added sugar or corn syrup)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup whole grain bread crumbs (buy as ready-made crumbs or make by putting stale bread in a food processor)
3 cloves or 4 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup nutritional yeast* or flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
2 teaspoons no-salt, all-purpose seasoning blend
1 teaspoon each dried thyme, basil, and oregano
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest

Marinara:
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cans (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
Salt and pinch of red pepper to taste

Toss In Ideas: spinach, arugula, fresh basil, fresh parsley

Pasta:
Choose whole-wheat pasta for a hearty, satisfying texture and an important serving of whole grains, or try pasta made with beans or legumes for added protein.

*If you haven’t tried Nutritional Yeast before, it is an inactive yeast that makes things taste cheesy. It is packed with B vitamins — including B 12 which is important if you don’t eat meat much — as well as calcium, potassium, iron, selenium, protein, and fiber. Find it in parmesan-style shakers, bags, or in the bulk section.

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 400°F, and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray or parchment paper.
2) Mash beans in a large bowl until they form a paste – this is a great job for your kids, either with a potato masher or their clean, bare hands.
3) Stir in the rest of the beanball ingredients. This may also be easier to do by hand. If it is a little dry, add a tablespoon of water to the mixture.
4) Roll mixture into balls about the size of a golf ball and place on the baking sheet – this is also a fun job for kids with clean hands to do with you! The recipe should yield 20-25. Optional: spray tops with cooking spray before putting in the oven.
5) Bake for 30 minutes total, turning over half-way.
6) While beanballs are baking, make your sauce: add oil to a pan on medium heat and saute chopped onion for 5-7 minutes until golden.
7) Add garlic, thyme, and optional red pepper flakes to the onions.
8) Stir tomatoes into the mix (add a pinch of salt to taste if there is none in the ingredients on the can), reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 25-30 minutes.
9) Make pasta according to directions on the box.
10) Optional: some people love completely smooth sauce rather than chunky. If this is you, then use an immersion blender to carefully blend chunks out of your sauce while still in the pan, or pour hot mixture into a food processor.
11) Serve pasta, top with your toss-in greens and beanballs, then sauce.