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Meatballs: the perfect food

I love a good meatball, and it turns out so does most of the world. If you dig a little you will find variations of the meatball represented in most world cuisines. What is not to love about meatballs? Here is a list of meatball attributes:

Convenient size

Meatballs are the perfect finger-food. What is more fun than popping a meatball in your mouth?

Protein-dense

Most meatballs start with some sort of protein - ground beef, veal, chicken, turkey, pork or fish. When I'm feeling sluggish, my body is often craving protein and a meatball or two does just the trick to perk me up.

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Meatballs can be packed full of veggies

Meatballs, of course, start with meat, but what often makes meatballs great are the veggies. Onions and garlic are the obvious, but mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes and other vegetables are what makes a meatball special and enhance their nutrition. Meatballs are really blank slates for combining your favorite ingredients.

Meatballs can be flavored with just about anything

Don't stop with the veggies, open up your spice cabinet, pull out your fresh herbs, and add fresh fruit (think pineapple, apple or peaches).

Vegetarian options

There are lots of vegetarian "meatball" options. Use mushrooms, beans and tofu as the base and add your favorite veggies and herbs.

Meatballs are economical

Like meatloaf, meatballs are an economical way to stretch protein. You start with a pound of inexpensive ground meat, add veggies, rice or bread, maybe an egg or two and pretty soon you are feeding five or six people.

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Meatballs can be made in advance

Meatballs are perfect for stashing in your freezer for the night you don't have time or the inclination to cook.

Meatballs love sauce

Every good meatball is made great with a little sauce. Whether it is tomato sauce, a Middle Eastern yogurt sauce, peanut sauce, teriyaki sauce, or you-name-it sauce, a little sauce adds flavor and moisture.

Kids, adults and everyone loves them

As you can see, I am rather enamored with meatballs. Here are two great meatball recipes to get you started:  Thai-style meatballs in lettuce cups and Yotam Ottolenghi's turkey and zucchini meatballs. Look for more meatball recipes at Something New For Dinner later this year.  

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