Recipe of the Week: Spaghetti and Meatballs for Every Diet

Who doesn’t love Italian food? There is nothing more classically Italian than spaghetti and meatballs. The awesome thing about this recipe is that it can be easily adapted for any diet.

Here are three delicious versions of this classic recipe

  • for those eating vegan
  • high calorie/high protein
  • and low calorie.


Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs

This recipe was adapted from a classic Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe at, a good place to find the basics for any meal and then make modifications depending on your individual dietary needs.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 whole egg
  • Black pepper and salt to taste
1. Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl and shape into 12 balls. Set aside or store in the refrigerator.

Tomato Sauce

  • ½ chopped onion
  • 5 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp white sugar (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small (6 ounce) can of tomato paste
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
2. In a large pan, over medium heat saute onion and garlic in olive oil. Add in remaining tomato sauce ingredients, reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for about 90 minutes.
3. Add in meatballs and simmer for another 30 minutes. Serve over your choice of pasta.

Classic Spaghetti Nutrition facts

1 Cup Sauce + 2 Meatballs:

+1 Cup Pasta




Fat (g)



Carbohydrates (g)



Fiber (g)



Protein (g)



*Fat and calorie content can vary depending on type of ground beef used. Calculation based on “lean” beef or 90/10.

**You can also make this dish higher in fiber by using whole wheat pasta instead of white pasta. Or gluten-free by using quinoa or rice pasta and gluten-free breadcrumbs.


Vegan Spaghetti and Meatballs

Vegan Spaghetti RecipeIt’s incredibly easy to adapt this recipe to being vegan. The tomato sauce is naturally vegan, so the major modification to be made is with the meatballs. You can find pre-made vegan meatballs in the frozen health food section ay many stores, but you can also make them yourself.

Here is a recipe adapted from Pasta Based.

  • 1 cup canned lentils
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ chopped onion
  • 5 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 cup cremini mushrooms
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 2.5 tbsp water)
  • ½ cup Italian flavored breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium heat and add onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Cook until soft.
  3. Add lentils, cooked veggies, and remaining ingredients into a food processor. Pulse until all are smooth and well-combined. Begin to form balls out of the mixture (should make about 9) and place evenly on a greased baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Rotating each ball if needed every 10 minutes or so.

Vegan Spaghetti Nutrition Facts:


1 Cup Sauce + 2 Meatballs:

+1 Cup Pasta




Fat (g)



Carbohydrates (g)



Fiber (g)



Protein (g)



Accurate Nutrition facts per vegan “meat” ball:

Calories: 121, Fat: 8g, Carbohydrates: 10g, Fiber: 2g, Protein: 3g

Want more protein in this vegan meal? Stay tuned for Transparent Labs own Vegan Protein.


High Calorie/High Protein Spaghetti and Meatballs

spaghetti meal closeup /><strong>Tips to increase the calorie and protein content of spaghetti and meatballs:</strong></p>
<li>Eat a larger portion, especially of the meatballs which is where most of the protein in this recipe is coming from.</li>
<li>Use ground beef that is higher in fat to increase the calorie content, although it would not change the protein content as much.</li>
<li>Consider a high protein pasta, like this <a href=one by Barilla. It has 10 grams of protein per serving, instead of the 2-3 grams in normal pasta.

  • Drink a high protein shake alongside your meal like our high quality ProteinSeries grass-fed whey products.
  • Apply these modifications to the classic spaghetti recipe and enjoy!


      Low Calorie Spaghetti and Meatballs

      Spaghetti and meatballs can also be modified for those trying to lose weight or cut calories, here are a few tips to modify the recipe:

      • Use zoodles (zucchini noodles made with a spiralizer) instead of regular pasta. One cup of zoodles has 20 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrates. Just this simple modification will save you 200 calories. Or you could always do ½ zoodles, ½ pasta so you don’t feel like you are missing as much.
      • Another option is “Skinny Pasta” or shirataki noodles. Although the texture isn’t quite the same, these noodles have almost no calories because they are just made from fiber that we cannot digest.
      • Use leaner ground beef. This will cut the fat and calorie content of the meatballs or substitute ground turkey which is also leaner.

       Apply these changes to the classic or vegan recipe and enjoy!

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