Hearty Italian Spaghetti Marinara and Meatballs

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Wednesday is over and the weekend is almost upon us. My energy level is being tested, but what can I say? Here I am writing this post at almost midnight. Shame on me, I know.

I know I have not been posting yummy goodies since last week but my attention has been set on learning music and solos for the next couple of weeks. How did I all of a sudden find myself singing in close to 5 ensembles with my 6th ensemble invitation coming in JUST today?

I am afraid that choices have to be made for the sake of sanity and balance. Have you found that to be true? I really have never been the one who has had such a hard time saying no to something but lately I have been most obliged to agree to everything.

I know what it is. I am subjecting myself to my old schedule before getting married. After graduating from college in 2002, I started singing with Houston Grand Opera chorus and I got a new position working for a great hospital. Yes. I got 2 jobs and they almost consumed my days, but they balanced each other out. I worked 6:45am to 3:15pm and then go to opera rehearsals from 6:45pm to sometimes 11:00pm.

A friend asked me yesterday how I now deal with JUST sometimes sleeping an average of 5 hours. This woman is having a hard time! My body from 2002 to 2007 dealt with it, but after getting married and moving away, I started a whole new schedule. Now I crave my beauty sleep in order to be balanced and to be sane.


Something that has become VERY therapeutic and more than a hobby has been my joy for cooking. Even Ryan knows that it is relaxing for me to go to the kitchen and create something delicious for any meal of the day. He knows that if I take on too much that other areas of my life will suffer.

Today I recited “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.” It is true. Yes, I can have a disciplined life, eat well, keep a schedule, but at the end, it is my focus on God that sustains me and gives me hope for a new day.

On that note, today I decided to take a break from recipe creations for my e-book to make a lovely and tasty recipe that I read on Kelly’s blog, Vegan Thyme. Last week I saw a most scrumptious recipe for meatballs and from that day on I have had a hankering for them!

Lightlife makes a meat free ground beef style option for vegans and vegetarians alike but I had not had a chance to try it. It was $3.50 for a pound for this meat substitute for which I had no problem shelling out money for since it was a meat option for me. As you know and if you have noticed, I hardly use meat substitutes containing vital gluten, but on occasion I indulge especially when I crave a meaty texture.

This meal is SUPER quick to prepare. I added all the spices to the ground “beef” and blended it well. I then formed the meatballs and cooked them. Meanwhile I made a quick marinara and boiled pasta. C’est tout mes amies! Ryan took a bite and another and asked what the meatballs were made of. He thought the texture was almost like one of his meatball recipes. He WIPED his plate clean and claimed it was a nice and tasty meal!

Thanks Kelly for a great recipe and weekday meal. Check out her slow cooker sauce for another sauce option. Enjoy!


Hearty Italian Spaghetti Marinara and Meatballs

meatball recipe from Vegan Thyme

makes 16-18 golf-size meatballs (serves 4-6 people)

print recipe

1 16-ounce package Gimme Lean Ground Beef-style
4 Tablespoons garlic minced (about 6-8 cloves)
1 Tablespoon powdered onion
1 Tablespoon powdered garlic
1/4 cup fresh basil OR 2 Tablespoons dried basil
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons of Italian bread crumbs or Panko breadcrumbs

In a large mixing bowl, add the package of Gimme Lean ground “beef.” Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and using your hands, incorporate all ingredients. Mix until well blended.

Let the mixture set for about ten minutes. Next, roll the mixture into balls about the size of golf balls. Set aside.

Next, heat a medium saute’ pan with 2 Tablespoons of canola or olive oil. Add the meatballs to the pan when the oil is warm. Using a wooden spoon, rotate meatballs often to prevent from sticking to pan (if you do not have a non-stick pan). Allow them to brown slowly for about 15 minutes–checking every few minutes to turn the meatballs to cook the other side. Remove from heat until ready to use.

Meanwhile, make marinara and boil water for pasta.

Marinara Sauce

2 -28-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes in heavy puree
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 yellow onions, diced (about 1 1/2 to 2 cups)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon Italian seasonings
1/2 Tablespoon basil
1/2 Tablespoon agave nectar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspooon fine sea salt

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add diced onions and cook until somewhat transparent for about 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, water and seasonings. Simmer sauce for 10 minutes. Add agave and salt and set aside until meatballs cooked.

Add cooked meatballs and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

Option: If you like drier, crispier, firmer meatballs then do not place meatballs in sauce.

Cook 1 pound of thin spaghetti pasta according to packaged directions. Drain and serve pasta on each plate and spooning 4 meatballs per plate.

Leftover meatballs perfect for a meatball sandwich! Yum!

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05088206323257810187 Amy

    This looks delicious. It is absolutely going in my “to be made” stack. =)

    I thought about you a time or two this past two weeks as I spent two weeks in Holland, MI with the snow and cold and that seems to be close to where you live. I hope things go well as you prepare for your performances.

    Peace be yours


  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12189451255445654191 LifeasKristina

    Wow! Ive been trying to find a vegan meatball recipe that looks legit! I need to find that ground “meat”.
    Hope you find a happy balance and a full nights sleep asap!

  • http://cookingforaveganlover.com/ lindsay

    wow these look great! I love gimme lean but hardly ever buy it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16932360983765353619 Kelly

    Hi Noelle Dear! Oh my goodness–you have surprised me again and brought a huge smile to my face! I am so humbled by your dish–and thank you! The sauce you made looks super yummy! I am really happy Ryan liked the dish, too! I am so happy you have been finding some balance with life and rehearsals–but DO try to keep the sleep schedule. (I crave a good night’s sleep! And ashamed to say how much I need each night!)

  • http://vegangoodthings.blogspot.com/ Leinana

    That looks SO delicious! Funny enough, just last night we got some take-out from Blossom du Jour, and my hubs got their spaghetti & meatballs. I only had a bite, so it left me craving meatballs! Perfect timing, I’ll have to try this recipe out! :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17579815484543487415 Noelle

    @Amy-Aww! I go to Holland twice a week and probably was in town when you were there! Next time, send me a shout-out when you are in town!

    @LifeasKristina-Thanks! This was definitely a flavorful dish. NOw for a meatball sub! 😀

    @Lindsay-My first time and I liked it! Here is to using it twice a month.

    @Kelly-Thank YOU for such a yummy meatball recipe. Delicious!

    @Leinana-It totally means you must make this ASAP! 😀

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08349594665584951489 Debbie

    This really sounds delicious right now, im freezing and a big hearty meatball in a rich marinara would warm me right up! Also slightly reminds me of Lady and the Tramp :-)

  • http://ravienomnoms.wordpress.com/ ravienomnoms

    Wow that does look extreeemmmely hearty! Yumalicious!

  • http://thehappinessinhealth.com/ Jessie

    My goodness, how DO you manage to sleep so few hours a night?? I haven’t been able to manage on that small amount of sleep since, well … college :) I admire your energy!

    Nice job with the spaghetti and “meatballs” – perfect comfort food!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11751332126011127621 Amber Shea @Almost Vegan

    LightLife is probably my favorite fake meat; I find it salty and flavorful. Meatballs are a perfect use for it!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08873080530639686787 HiHoRosie

    looks good and just like the real thing (well, you know what I mean). Love the steam coming off that last pic.

  • http://chowvegan.com/ chow vegan

    Yum! That does look hearty and mouth watering good! I like cooking to relax too. :-)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00361442891218676216 Emily Malloy

    That looks GORGEOUS.

    I have also found that after I got hitched, I need my sleep so much more!!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12142526962743918854 Beaglebea

    Your meal looks great. Will have to try it.

  • http://anecdotesandapples.weebly.com/ Monet

    I love your focus. We can do all things through Him who gives us a strength! I know that you are being challenged, but it is during these times that we grow the most! Thank you for opening your heart to us…and for sharing this delicious recipe. I love Kelly at Vegan Thyme, and I’m always happy to see her recipes in the blog world!