#LeanBulk Style Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs

#LeanBulk Style Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs


I’ve cooked pasta in some form or another a few hundred times by now, and it’s almost always different based off preference and usually what ingredients are on hand.  This isn’t a dish I recommend as a staple fat loss meal.  But for someone lean bulking, this is very high protein, complex carbs, healthy fats, and full of nutrients.  If you consciously skip added cheese, use lean ground meat e.g. 90%,93%, or 97% vs. 70%-80% this alone greatly will reduce fat.  You can also use a higher ratio of meat & veggies to sauce and use a white pasta alternative with some of the healthier options I mention below to increase fiber, protein, micronutrients and decrease the glycemic index of the pasta.  Anyway, this was my Semi-Cheat” meal for the day, and I think it turned out alright:

Ingredients Used:

  • 1lb 93% Jennie-O Italian Seasoned Lean Ground Turkey  (90-97% ground lean Beef or Turkey ok)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2c Italian Breadcrumbs  (May substitute with Oats, Rice, or home-made breadcrumbs)
  • 1 box pasta of your choice  (I recommend Multigrain, Whole Grain, Wheat, or even “Protein Plus” by Barilla.)
  • 1 can 15oz Tomato Sauce   (Use less sauce to reduce overall sugar.  Trying adding more vegetables in place e.g. Tomatoes)
  • 3-5 chopped Roma Tomatoes
  • 1 chopped Onion
  • 1c chopped Mushroom
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Italian herb seasoning (can use fresh chopped basil, oregano, parsley, or a dry herb mix)
  • Optional: Parmesan cheese mixed into ground turkey meatballs and as a condiment.  Additional veggies like spinach, zucchini, or corn.


Step 1) Prepare & cook Meatballs:

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine ground turkey, 1 beaten egg, 1/3c chopped onion, 1/2c breadcrumbs, a pinch of Italian herb dry seasoning, garlic powder, salt, pepper.
  • Mix together well by hand, roll into evenly sized round balls, roll meatballs in a shallow dish or plate with breadcrumbs to evenly coat outside.
  • Pan Fry Medium/High 15 minutes with olive oil until golden brown on all sides.  Cover for an additional 10 minutes over medium heat until ready for sauce.


Step 2) Prepare and cook Sauce

  • Pan Fry in olive oil over Medium heat chopped onions, mushrooms, until golden in color, then add chopped Roma tomatoes to the mix.
  • Add salt/pepper, fry veggies together an additional 5 minutes, then add can of tomato sauce, a pinch of garlic powder, and Italian herb seasoning cooking with medium heat.
  • Add cooked meatballs into the sauce mix, cover, reduce heat to Medium/Low, and let simmer for 20-30 minutes.


Step 3) Boil noodles

  • During the final minutes of the sauce cooking, add pasta to boiling water.
  • Add a pinch of salt with 1Tbsp of Olive oil to prevent noodles from sticking together.
  • Cook 7-8 minutes over Medium/High until noodles are tender.


Step 4) Done, Eat, YUM

Double up on ingredients to increase servings.  This is something I like to cook in a large batch and reheat leftovers for later.  Some argue it even taste better the next day after the sauce has had time to fully marinate overnight.   This isn’t exactly something you want as a staple dish when trying to lose fat.  But the macro’s are acceptable for most lean bulking diets depending on the meal.  I would consider this a “Semi-Cheat” meal.  A Semi-cheat is one that doesn’t contain empty calories, always contacts sufficient micro and macro nutrients uses substituted “healthier” ingredients,  but tends to be higher in 1-2 macro nutrients.

For example, this meal is high in protein, healthy fats, nutrients, and complex carbs.   This is achieved by using a “lean” ground meat such as 93% lean ground turkey vs 70-80% lean beef, MUCH higher in overall fat and saturated fat.   Regular pasta noodles are high on the glycemic index, and stripped of micronutrients, depending on the type/brand used.  Some contain higher quality starchy carbs with fortified vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein with a lower GI rating.  It may not be a perfect staple complex carb choice on a fat loss diet, but if you are going to go off the diet or cheat to have pasta, it can be done “cleaner” than simply going all out.