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Nate's Meatless Meatballs - a line of non-GMO, vegan and vegetarian "meatballs" - is the perfect solution to a quick and healthy family meal. Made from protein-packed soy, Nate's Meatless Meatballs offer the taste, texture and versatility of traditional meatballs—but with fewer calories and high vegetable protein content, making them perfect for vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets alike. Nate's brings you a delicious homemade meatless meatball sandwich recipe that can make for a perfect appetizer when cut into small pieces or a filling family meal for your weeknight dinner! Nate's Meatless Meatballs are available nationwide in stores like Whole Foods, Sprouts, and other local supermarkets. For more information on Nate's Meatless Meatballs, visit www.natesmeatless.com
For the Marinara Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Oil
- 1 Cup Water
- 4 Cups Canned Tomatoes
- 1 Tablespoon Dried Rosemary
- 1 Yellow Onion, chopped
- 6 Cloves of Garlic, crushed
- 2 Tablespoons Dried Oregano
- 1 Tablespoon Dried Thyme
- 1 Cup Fresh Basil, chopped
- 1 Cup Fresh Oregano, chopped
- 1/4 Cup Fresh Thyme
- 2 Tablespoons Salt
- 1/2 Tablespoon Pepper
- 1/2 Tablespoon Sugar
For the Sandwich
- 1 Ciabatta Bread
- 1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
- 1/2 Red Pepper, roasted
- 1/2 Yellow Pepper, roasted
- 1 Dash of Fresh Basil
- 8 Nate's Meatless Meatballs
Calories Per Serving2542
Folate equivalent (total)1024µg100%
In Mom’s Kitchen: Nate’s Meatless Meatballs
Serving up vegetarian or vegan alternatives at your next gathering or upcoming holiday soiree is simple with Nate’s Meatless Meatballs! These savory organic meatless meatballs are made from soy, and contain 9 grams of protein per serving. Cholesterol-free, the meatballs can be simmered in a favorite sauce, or placed lovingly on a plate of whole-wheat spaghetti or in between slices of focaccia bread for a meatball sandwich!
Nate’s Meatless Meatballs offers three distinctly delightful varieties of meatless meatballs including Zesty Italian, Savory Mushroom and Classic. “Mom” fell in love with the Savory Mushroom, which paired well with a spicy arrabbiata pasta sauce!
All varieties keep well in the freezer for a quick option for dinner, and can be found nationwide. You can locate a store near you that carries Nate’s Meatless Meatballs by visiting Nate’s website.
To learn more about Nate’s Meatless Meatballs, please visit natesmeatless.com.
*Company generously provided samples and images for this piece.*
Nate's Meatless Meatball Sandwich - RecipesVegan M.D. Dr. Michael Greger recommended Nate's Meatless Meatballs in the Maximum Nutrition DVD that our local veg group showed this month. I decided to give them a try. I made them into some good ol' Grape Jelly Meatballs (so easy -- cook one package of meatballs while warming up 1/3 cup grape jelly and 1/3 cup chili sauce in a saucepan, stirring until the jelly melts add the cooked meatballs and voila!). I packed them with half a wheat bun, split so Little shmoo could make a hot meatball sub if he wished green & yellow wax beans & carrots an organic orange and four chocolate covered nuts for a treat.
Verdict: Oh my. Those meatballs are good. They are really good. I think you could serve these to even the most hardened carnivore and they would be none the wiser. Little shmoo was thrilled to hear that there were more waiting for him when he got home. 5 stars.
My husband thought that I was crazy when I told him years ago about the grape jelly/chili sauce mixture. We used grape jelly and ketchup at my house, but it's similar. My toddler likes Nate's meatballs too. They're good on a roll with some Vegan Gourmet cheese. Yum.
Please help with the meatballs. Do you cover them in this sauce and bake? I may be a bit slow on the uptake, but have just ventured into the vegan world.
Thanks for your clarification.
I re-read the blog and lo and behold - I'm just blind!
i just found your blog and may i just say that i want you to be my mom!
or at the very least, i want to eat at your house every day.
worst comes to worst, how about opening a restaurant in portland called the vegan lunchbox? (oh, and if it could be next door to where i work, that woul rock) :)
Hi, Ionna! Yeah, isn't that a trippy combination? But sooo good.
Hi, Michelle -- I used Heinz chili sauce. And you can either bake the meatballs or cook them on the stove, according to package directions. I baked them.
As an after-school snack update, Little shmoo saw a container of leftover cooked peas, corn, carrots, and green beans in the fridge and decided he'd rather have that and another orange as a snack. How cool is that??
oh, man, I love Nate's meatballs. I'm sorry, but that grape jelly combo sounds NASTY. Somebody brought real meatballs cooked in it to our last homeschooling potluck party, but I just couldn't wrap my mind around it. I just don't know.
I love those meatballs! I just made them last week, using Trader Joe's meatless meatballs. You can either bake the meatballs first and then add them to the sauce, or you can just let them simmer in the sauce until fully cooked.
I notice that you don't pack his containers with food, the portion sizes seem vary balanced. Do you have any tips regarding that? For instance, I might have filled my sons container with wax beans were are you only cover the bottom. Awww, this portion process for my kiddo can be hard to grasp. Anyways, thanks for the fabulous ideas!
Hi, Nicole! Yes, serving portions for kids can be tricky. Sometimes if you pack too much it can overwhelm them and they're less likely to eat anything. On the other hand, you don't want your kids finishing it all and still feeling hungry, either.
It depends a lot on the child's size and appetite Little shmoo is the second biggest kid in his class and seems to have a big appetite right now, but half this much food might be enough for a smaller child of the same age. I eyeball things and try to imagine how much Little shmoo would eat if I were putting this on a plate at home.
You might also try reading "serving size" on nutritional labels they are often smaller than we might expect and can provide a rough guideline.
Your blog is so good it's ridiculous. My mouth waters each time I see the photos.
My great-grandfather uses mustard and grape jelly on his meatballs. Until he told me what they were (back when I still ate meatballs, that is), I luuuurved them. Now it freaks me out that he mixes mustard and grape jelly, but for almost twenty years, they were heaven.
Thanks for the blog! Your kid is so very lucky!
Yeah, I dunno about grape jelly meatballs either. Of course, I'm not big on sweet & sour stuff. Speaking of meatless meatballs, Whole Foods makes a mean and tasty vegan meatball - sooo good! I've never tried Nate's meatless meatballs so I was wondering if anyone has tried both, and if so, which do you prefer?
vegan meatballs! my mom used to make them when i was younger [they were my favorite] and i haven't found a good substitute for them since going veggie. i'll definately be checking into nate's asap. thanks for the recommendation!
I feel silly. I haven't a clue what Heinz's Chili sauce is!
I'm not interested in giving Heinz my food money, so would like to make it from scratch. Is it basically like unsweetened cocktail sauce? or like tabasco?
I agree about the restaurant idea. I think a take out deli might be more precise! With kids and adult 'lunch boxes'. You could even offer a subscription special and be open for parents to swing by on their way to dropping their kids off to school! Ooo you could offer after school snacks too !
michael greger! i met him! he came and did a speech at my school back when i was co-president of the vegan/vegetarian association!
anyway, that's cool. i just wanted to say that, since i usually don't comment, but i was excited to see his name on there and felt cool for meeting him and talking to him and stuff.
oh we love those meatballs. I haven't seen them around here much. The co-op on the other side of town probably has them, but it's . on the other side of town. I have seen that sauce mixture, I think everyone that grew up in North Dakota has seen that, it's a staple of cooking. That and the cola/ketchup bbq sauce.
Okay, this is off the subject but those grape meatballs reminded me! I have purchased all the ingredients for the twinkie recipe, but can't find the barley malt powder anywhere! Can I replace it with another ingredient?
I make a mean chili sauce from scratch. think less like tabasco and more like a sweet version of a home-canned salsa. And yes, it tastes pretty great with grape jelly on 'meatballs'.
Check post-punk and allrecipes. Maybe they have a good chili sauce recipe.
Hi-I don't know about how to make your own chili sauce (although I'm sure you can), but I've always loved sweet and sour meatballs. A couple of days ago I didn't have grape jelly or chili sauce, so I used bing cherry simply fruit and some thai chili sauce I had! Results: the cherry simply fruit worked just as well, but man, those "meat"balls were SPICY! I use Nate's too, and LOVE them. They are TOO good.
We have always loved these meatless meatballs! They are so tasty.
My mom always mixed currant jelly and mustard (equal parts, I think) to put over smoked cocktail hot dogs. I've been waiting for someone to come out with a vegan version of those, but maybe I should try the combo on meatballs instead. Thanks for the idea!
Incidentally, I've been following your blog for a couple of months now and I wanted to say how great it is that you're making vegetarianism so fun and appealing for your son (and probably leaving 20 jealous classmates in his wake).
My husband and I are graduate students and we too have laptop lunch boxes, although for us the challenge is sometimes making a filling and nutritious lunch fit in the containers! I just ordered the soup thermos to help on that front. Thank you for so much great inspiration in filling it! Discovering what my husband has packed in my lunch is the highlight of my class day.
About 3 months ago I blogged about Nate's Meatballs. They're great! As far as I know they have 3 different kinds and they are all good!
First of all, congrats on well deserved recognition! My 20 month old and I are veg's in a very carnivorous town. My husband and 14 yr old son eat meat. Reading your blog gives me much needed support and great ideas! Could you please tell me if there is anywhere online that I could order Nate's Meatballs? The closest place that carries them is 2 hours away! Thanks so much and keep doing what your doing. It is very comforting to know that we are not alone in the world!
My mom's meatball sauce recipe is chili sauce and cranberry jelly. Yummers!
that recipe sounds great..i even clicked on the nates meatless meatballs link and found they carry them at wild oats and a chain called mrs. greens rite in my town..ill definitely forward this recipe for my mom to make..another great lunchbox!
-AP Environmental girl
Re. ordering Nate's online, I don't think it's possible as they are frozen. But it looks like you can find the source nearest you by going to their website.
mmmm. those meatballs are delicious. nate's chicken-style nuggets (i just love to say that) are also excellent! thanks once again for another great idea to pack in my laptop lunchbox! :)
When you say Chili sauce, do you mean something like rooster sauce (sriracha)?
Hmm, chili sauce is like. ketchup with a kick! It's not like barbecue sauce, not smoky, but spicy and sweet. Most grocery stores have a store brand version.
I made the meatballs and sauce last night. Delicious! I think people might be thinking it tastes grapey, but it doesn't. It tastes slightly sweet and spicey, similiar to swedish meatballs (although I've never made them and haven't eaten them in over 18 years. but, from what I remember. ) I used "Tree of Life" Organic Grape Fruit Spread. Thank you Jennifershmoo, I never would have thought to make a sauce like that. My husband is a former chef and he loved it!
Nate's meatballs are pretty good, but Trader Joe's meatless meatballs are even better. They are cheaper and you get more of them in a package. Lamentably, all the TJ's in our city have been out of them since December! I served them in a BBQ sauce at a party, and the omnis were wolfing them down like it was their last supper. One friend was a bit mad when I told him the "meat"balls contained no dead cow carcass, and vowed he would hide steak in my salad the next time I ate at his house. Yeah . . . I am sure that would work.
Yay! Thanks, jenny! I'm so glad you tried and liked them!
Hi, nate -- Thanks for the recommendation. I'll have to try those next time I'm near a Trader Joe's (which only happens once or twice a year when we're on vacation, sigh). Oh no, more Trader Joe's Envy!
I make these vegan meat-less balls, and they are fantastic. Glad to hear someone else likes them, too!
In addition to your Fluffy White Cupcakes, I made the Grape Jelly Meatballs for a kid's birthday party (the meatballs were really for the adults), and they were a huge hit. The meat-eaters didn't have a clue they were vegetarian!
Nate's meatballs give me a terrible tummyache, and I don't know why. But that's not what I wanted to say. I just wanted to tell you that I've spent most of my workday reading every word of your blog, and I'm enchanted. I don't even have kids! My blog wants to be your blog when it grows up.
- 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
- ⅓ cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- ½ small onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ cup marinara sauce
- 3 hoagie rolls, split lengthwise
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a medium bowl, mix together the ground beef, bread crumbs, onion, salt and pepper, garlic powder, and half of the mozzarella cheese. Form the mixture into a log, and place it into an 8x8 inch baking dish.
Bake for 50 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the center is no longer pink. Let stand for 5 minutes, then slice into 1/2 inch slices. Place a few slices onto each hoagie roll, cover with marinara sauce, and sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese over.
Wrap each sandwich with aluminum foil, and return to the oven for 15 minutes, until bread is lightly toasted and cheese is melted. Let stand 15 minutes before eating. Each sandwich serves 2.
What kind of bread should I use?
French rolls are ideal for meatball marinara sandwiches. They toast up nicely but are soft so they’re easy to bite into even when stuffed full.
Hot dog buns also work well and are a great size for smaller eaters. Depending on the size of your meatballs, you may want to cut them in halves or quarters so they fit better in the smaller buns.
What do you put on a meatball sub?
Aside from meatballs, marinara sauce, and cheese, cooked bell peppers and onions are a delicious addition to meatball subs. To add them to your sub, thinly slice the onions and peppers and cook them in a little olive oil with salt and pepper over medium heat until they are tender-crisp. Load them onto your sandwich and enjoy!
What goes with meatball sandwiches?
Meatball sandwiches are extremely rich and filling, so simple sides like a green salad or garlic green beans complement them nicely. If you want that true deli experience, serve them with a crunchy coleslaw and some kettle chips.
Can I make these in advance?
Yes! Don’t make the garlic bread and assemble the sandwiches until just before you’re ready to serve them, but the sauce and meatballs can be made up to 2 days in advance.
When you’re ready to eat, all you have to do is heat the sauce and meatballs, toast the garlic bread, and assemble your sandwiches.
The Formula for Meatball Magic
Create your own meatless meatball recipe by following this formula, adapted from Matt Frazier’s excellent veggie burger formula at NoMeatAthlete.com.3
Tools needed: food processor
- 1 1/2 cups base ingredient (equivalent to one can of beans, drained)
- 2 cups diced vegetables
- 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups dry ingredient (the amount needed depends on the consistency of the other ingredients)
- 1/2 cup texture ingredient
- 2 tablespoons oil for sautéing the onions and garlic
- 3 tablespoons liquid flavorings
- 4 teaspoons seasoning, such as an herb and spice blend
- Cooked flavorings: 1/2 cup diced onion and 1 to 3 cloves garlic
- Salt to taste (the amount needed depends on the saltiness of other ingredients)
- 1 to 2 eggs (or an equivalent amount of an alternative binding ingredient)
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the minced onion, diced vegetables, and seasoning. Sauté until the onions are soft and golden.
2. Add the minced garlic and sauté for a couple more minutes.
3. Transfer the cooked ingredients to the food processor. Add the base and liquid flavorings, and pulse just until everything is combined, but not pur. Most people prefer chunkier meatballs.
4. Add the texture ingredient. Pulse until just combined.
5. Add 1 cup of the dry ingredient. Pulse until just combined.
6. Taste the batter add salt as needed, probably 1/2 to 1 teaspoon, depending on the saltiness of the other ingredients. Pulse until just combined.
7. Lightly coat your hands in oil to keep the batter from sticking. Try to form a meatball. The consistency will vary slightly depending on the ingredients, and some adjustment may be necessary.
8. If the batter is too wet to mold, add more of the dry ingredient. If the batter is too dry, add a little water or oil. If the meatball doesn’t hold together, add one or two eggs or an equivalent amount of an alternative binding ingredient. (Eggs make meatballs more dense and spongy. Since most people prefer light, airy meatballs, it’s best to use the least number of eggs needed to bind everything together.4)
9. Form the meatballs. The size comes down to preference. Consider how you will serve them. For soups or curries, bite-size balls are usually best. For spaghetti and appetizer skewers, larger golf ball-size balls are often preferred.
Mini Meatball Sandwiches
Mix meat with bread crumbs, garlic, salt, pepper, and milk. Knead together with hands. Roll into heaping tablespoon-sized rolls.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook for one minute. Add meatballs between the onions and brown for one minute. (You might have to do this in two batches, depending on the size of your skillet.)
Pour in jar of marinara shake pan gently to mix. Put on lid and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
When ready to serve, cut each dinner roll in half. Place a wedge of Provolone on the top and bottom of each roll. Spoon a meatball with the sauce onto the bottom bun top with the top bun.
Okay, fine. Taken from start to finish, this took a little longer than sixteen minutes. But it did take sixteen minutes to get it to the point where it simmers in the skillet&hellipso it sorta kinda maybe possibly counts. What can I say? I like consistency! I couldn&rsquot bear the thought of breaking the run of &ldquo16-Minute&rdquo titles this week.
Boy oh boy, was this one good. Scrumptious moist meatballs simmered in marinara sauce then spooned into a standard dinner roll and surrounded by melted cheese. It&rsquos a slider of sorts&helliponly it&rsquos a meatball sandwich instead of a burger! I got the big thumbs up from the three men in my house. They absolutely loved them.
I took a slightly Italian approach for these, with the marinara sauce and the provolone cheese. But I came very close to using the comfort-food meatball recipe here on my site (and in my cookbook, for those of you who have it). It&rsquos made with more of a ketchup base and winds up tasting more like meatloaf. Either approach works!
Start with ground chuck or regular ground beef. Throw a pound or so into a mixing bowl.
Throw in some unseasoned bread crumbs. These are panko, but you can use whatever you have on hand. (You can also soak a couple of slices of sandwich bread in 1/2 cup of milk and add that instead. Lots of options!)
Mince a clove of garlic and add that in&hellip
Then add plenty of salt and pepper.
Next, pour in a little milk. (Obviously, you won&rsquot want to do this if you&rsquove gone with the bread-soaked-in-milk method.)
Now knead the mixture all together until it&rsquos totally combined.
Scoop out about a tablespoon of the mixture&hellip
Then roll them into neat balls.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Dice half of a small onion and throw it into the oil.
After a minute or so, place the meatballs in between the onions so that they&rsquore right up against the skillet. (You might have to do two batches, depending on the size of your skillet.)
Cook them for a minute or two, until they start to get brown&hellip
Then pour in a whole jar of marinara sauce. You can certainly make your own, or you can just pour in plain tomato sauce and season it however you&rsquod like. But for this dish, jarred marinara really does work well.
Shake the pan around a bit (it&rsquos hard to stir without disturbing the meat-a-balls) then put the lid on and simmer the meatballs for a good 20 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to prevent burning.
When the meatballs are done, grab some dinner rolls. Marlboro Man picked these up for me on his way back through town yesterday, because I don&rsquot like to leave my house and Marlboro Man likes to enable me. They&rsquore just standard, soft dinner rolls&hellipbut potato rolls would be fine, too. Sliders are so popular now, some supermarkets probably have specialty &ldquoslider rolls.&rdquo
I wouldn&rsquot know this, though, since I have no supermarkets in my life. It&rsquos just a guess.
BBQ Meatless Meatball Sandwiches
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Breville for Conagra.
I love a good "cowboy" style burger with bbq sauce and onion rings, so I decided it would be fun to do a twist on this with meatballs. This way you can really smother the meatballs in BBQ sauce for a boost of flavor. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the Gardein Meatless Meatballs which is a big deal deal coming from this meatball loving Italian American. The texture, juiciness, and flavor are all there for me in a big way!
For the sauce, I mixed store bought BBQ sauce with some pickle juice and sriracha and let it simmer while the meatballs cooked in the Breville Combi Wave Oven. I had yet to try making onion rings in an air frier so that was an interesting task as well. You need to toast the breadcrumbs a bit before coating the onions with them just to add that toasted fried flavor to the rings.
I wanted a non-traditional bread for this sandwich instead of doing a classic sub roll and eventually settled on thick slices of buttery Texas toast. Some pickles finished it off and added a bright tart contrast to the rest of the sandwich.
15 Recipes for Homemade Vegetarian Meatballs
Published: Feb 16, 2016 · Modified: Feb 25, 2021 by Nicole @ Oh My Veggies · This post may contain affiliate links.
Are they vegetarian meatballs? Or no-meatballs? Or faux meatballs? Or veggie balls? No matter what you call them, having one go-to (not-)meatball recipe is essential for every vegetarian cook. While you can buy them at the grocery store, many brands of meat-free meatballs are highly processed, with long lists of ingredients--who needs that when you can make your own with ingredients like beans, nuts and vegetables?
Nate’s Meatless Meatball Giveaway!
Another goal of mine for 2014 is to feature as many awesome vegan products as possible…and give away alot of them to my readers!
I am super excited about this first giveaway of the new year. Even during my time on the West Coast (which was AMAZEBALLS) I was dreaming about the Nate’s Meatless Meatballs that awaited my arrival back home. I wasn’t excited to see the mounds of snow on my car, or to brave the below freezing temps or get back into a 30 hour nannying work week, but I was extremely amped to try out out these plant-based meatballs.
As much as I missed cooking while I was in Vegas and San Diego, it’s been hard to get back into the groove of prepping food every night, rather than dining at all my favorite California veg restaurants. Noshing on these Nate’s Meatballs (with Classic Flavor, Zesty Italian and Mushroom varieties) was a nice welcome home treat and adding them to my easy, Minestrone Soup gave me hearty, filing meal for days. Even though I must admit, I snacked on about half of each bag as much soup was warming up. Yep, I couldn’t even wait 5 minutes to nosh on these yummy, savory orbs. They taste alot like my homemade version, but are warmed up in a fraction of the time. Which is perfect for me right now, as I try to unpack, tackle my mounds of laundry, teach some classes and nanny overtime. Sadly, my Whole Foods didn’t carry the mushroom version, but I can only assume they were as addictive as the two versions I got!
Trader Joe’s Meatless Meatballs
We return again to the strange shores of vegan cuisine to take a look at Trader Joe’s Meatless Meatballs. We’ve looked at a good number of vegetarian and vegan alternatives to this meaty world we live in – from soy “ice cream” to chicken-free chicken nuggets.
In general, I find that vegetarian food really shines when it’s not getting hung up on trying to be the doppleganger of meat products, as with Trader Joe’s Vegetable Masala Burgers, and just does it’s own thing. The worst sins of vegan cuisine seem to occur when somebody decides that, goddammit, yes, I need to make a turkey out of tofu. Vegetable dishes are good as vegetables, and meat dishes are good as meat – there’s no need for vegetables to be all things to all people. Nevertheless, I’m always excited to be proved wrong in novel ways, hence the acquisition of these “meat”balls.
TJ’s comes straight out and calls their meatless meatballs, “a delicious meat-free substitute for any meal” right there on the package, without even a hint of modesty. I wouldn’t go that far, but the meatballs do delivery a surprisingly rich and full, if not exactly meaty, flavor. The meatlessballs, for lack of a better word, replicate the texture and mouthfeel of a standard party meatball pretty closely. The bite of the ball is moist and a little chewy – holding together well, and breaking up much as a bit of ground beef would. Coated with a heavy sauce, or mixed into a plate of pasta you wouldn’t notice much of a difference. Taken by itself, however, the meatlessball tastes, and more importantly, smells very dissimilar.
A good job was done to season the meatlessballs in such a way that they are roughly approximate to a normal meatball, but there’s no hiding the sort of soybean-y aftertaste when eaten straight off the plate. There’s nothing here of the fatty, visceral taste of the meatball – instead there’s a thinner, somewhat vegetable blandness. This difference in taste is rather mild, however, which means it can be hidden very effectively under a good marinera or similar sauce. More problematic, for those seeking a true meat substitute, is the smell wich has nothing of the savory, fatty scent of a simmering meatball. Instead, it smells like what it is – a bunch of hot soy. It’s a strong enough scent that it might make you think twice about digging in.
When you pop this bag open, the first thing you should realize is that you
This, by itself, not so good. Throw on a heavy sauce though…
are getting a ton of these guys. These are cocktail meatballs, not the big honking ones you get in Trader Joe’s regular bag of frozen meatballs. The move feels like it may be a practical one, as even at their smaller size the meatless meatballs have a certain tendency to break up if played around with too much. On the plus side, they’re down right healthy compared to Trader Joe’s ordinary beef variety meatballs. Each six meatball serving has only 140 calories, 45 from fat, and 13 whopping grams of protein.
How do such meatless balls manage such a feat? Through the magic of textured soy protein, of course.
To level with you, I generally react to this sort of psuedo-meat like a horse being lead up to Frakenstein’s castle. There’s something strange and unnatural about it that makes me balk. Meat I get. It’s easy to get answers out of meat. “Hey, what’s this meatball made out of?” “A bunch of dead cow.” That’s a straight forward answer. The answers are harder with meatless meat products, because all of a sudden I’m being tricked, right from the start. Nothing is what it appears, but instead a complex masquerade of strange technical processes meant to fool me into thinking I’m eating meat. That’s vaguely sinister – and such weird yet innocuous phrases as “textured soy protein” only make me nervous.
Textured soy protein or “TSP” is, in fact, kind of weird and sinister stuff. It’s basically the styrofoam of the food world, used since the 1960’s by the Archer Dale Midland company to pad out meat with filler material. It’s what happens when you heat soy bean flour to high temperatures that it melts, then is extruded from a nozzle as “a fibrous, insoluble, porous network that can soak up as much as three times its weight in liquids ” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Textured_vegetable_protein). Does that sound amazing? Not really, but they tell you not to ask about how sausage is made either.
That may sound like I’m being harsh, but I’m just trying to be accurate. In terms of texture and even, to a fair degree, taste these “meat”balls really are good substitutes for real meatballs. But to say, as Trader Joe’s does, that they’re a substitute for “any recipe” isn’t one I’d stand behind. Taken as a small asset in a larger dish, in a sloppy meatball sandwich say, they work beautifully, as they would for any vegetarian just looking to get a little variety in their diet. However, in a dish where the meatballs are showcased instead of hidden behind other, stronger flavors they’re unlikely to please the table.
Would I Recommend It: Not to meat eaters, possibly to vegetarians.
Would I Buy It Again: Not I, I’ll stick to TJ’s lean turkey variety.
Final Synopsis: Fake meatballs suitable for pasta but not soup.