This is one of my family’s favorite meals: spaghetti and meatballs! One of my favorite parts of this meal is that I use half of the recipe to make meatballs, and I shape the other half into meatloaf for dinner later in the week. I love prepping and cooking once and getting two meals from it.
Spaghetti & Meatballs
1lb ground beef
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
½ c Italian breadcrumbs
2 tbsp. garlic, minced
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
½ cup milk
1 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. parsley
Directions: Preheat oven to 350F. Mix all meatball ingredients together in a large bowl. Shape the mixture into balls, and place on a greased foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 25 minutes or until cooked through. Add meatballs to spaghetti and marinara sauce.
Usually, I use lean ground beef for this recipe, but you can just as easily substitute ground turkey or chicken if you prefer. I don’t eat beef as often and beef has some great nutritional benefits. I recommend getting a 93% lean ground beef if you can to decrease some of the saturated fat in the meal. Beef is a great source of iron, zinc, vitamin B12, riboflavin, and protein. As an added bonus, the iron from the beef will be absorbed even better because it is paired with the vitamin C from the marinara sauce. This is especially important if you have been diagnosed with anemia—the most common nutritional deficiency during pregnancy.
The marinara sauce is not only a good source of vitamin C, but it is also especially rich in vitamin A with just a half a cup providing about 40% of your daily needs. Vitamin A is needed for cell growth and differentiation, which is critical during pregnancy. It is important for proper development of the heart, lung, and kidneys and is considered one of the most important vitamins during pregnancy. The tomato base of marinara contains a high amount of lycopene, an important antioxidant, which actually turns into a more easily absorbed form as it is cooked.
Spaghetti, especially whole-wheat spaghetti, provides an excellent source of carbohydrates for balancing out this meal. If you choose whole-wheat spaghetti, you will also be getting additional fiber, vitamin E, zinc, and iron. If you don’t like the taste of whole-wheat pasta, you can try making a half and half mixture of white spaghetti and whole-wheat spaghetti to see if that is better tolerated. Replacing some is better than having none.