Meatball Sliders for FireDad

Last night was a quiet one.  My fireman was at the station and his momma was away working (she is a flight attendant)- so it was just me and the fireDad for the evening.  I noticed multiple frozen dinners in their freezer the other day and wanted to make sure he wasn’t reaching for one of those while I’m in the house.   How many times do you reach for one for a quick and easy meal after working all day.  I would be silly to think most people are like me and actually look forward to coming straight home to cook.  Actually- at 4:00 pm each day, 80% of people have no idea what they’ll eat for dinner that evening—making it very unlikely that they will make healthy choices.  The frozen food aisles are jam packed with selections- so what the heck do I pick?  There are a variety of frozen meals that are known for being for those seeking health consciousness (i.e. Healthy Choice, Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones), which are probably better choices than say your typical HungryMan or Marie Callendar’s meal. What I will say- even with the healthy ones- it is so, so, so important to look at the Nutrition Facts Label in order to really know what’s inside each frozen meal. My dietitian picks for a wholesome food label include:
  • Calories: aim for 300 to 500 calories/entire meal (not per serving- be careful you make note of how many servings are in your frozen meal/skillet bag ).
  • Fat: less than 30% of the meal (the fat calories should be less than 1/3 of the total calories).  Most of the healthy labels have an appropriate amount of fat.  But- just because your meal is ‘small’ doesn’t mean the fat calories are as well.. those little chicken pot pies can be a killer on the waistline. 
  • Protein: at least 15 to 25 grams/meal. Protein is like that of fiber- makes you feel full longer..takes longer to digest, so will stick with you- and prevent that hypoglycemic feeling until you can have your next snack. 
  • Dietary fiber: aim for 3 to 5 grams. Fiber helps keep you feeling full longer, so the more fiber the better.  You can boost the fiber without adding many calories by adding in a cup or so of frozen carrots or broccoli to your frozen meal.   
  • Sodium: Eeeesh.  This is a BIG one.  Be careful with the sodium number on the label.  Look for less than 600 milligrams/meal. So, again with being aware of the number of servings in your meal. All frozen meals have salt to maintain freshness (its a preservative), but the less the better.

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I would suggest to try vegetarian meals, which tend to be higher in fiber and lower in calories- and still yumKashi brand (my favorite, and a rockstar across the board) and Amy’s Kitchen both have several options- I actually brought Kashi’s Mayan Harvest Bake for lunch today. Keep in mind that organic meals don’t always mean low calories or less fat. Hello- organic cookies are still cookies, organic cheese crackers are still crackers, and organic chicken pot pies.. well.. you get the idea :) (Side note: Kashi has a food recall issue for some of their frozen pizza- click here for more deets.)

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Last week I was doing my daily browse of foodie blogs and came upon a meatball recipe.  Wow, yum.  Those look good.  Date night came and we decided on Italian.  I did the expected- ordered the meatballs.. and was really dissapointed.  Yea- totally not worth my Italian dinner date night meal.  Dangit. I decided within two bites I was more interested in my dinner salad (and who am I kidding, the bread basket..) and made plans to make meatballs- GOOD meatballs- this week for dinner. 

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I planned ahead (well, duh.) and on Sunday when I was mentioning what was for dinner this week- his face was sort of scrunched in confusion. ‘What’s a slider?’ The only thing I could come up with was “mini-sandwich”, am I right?  I actually have never had one- but it sounded good- and it sounds as good as it tastes.  FireDad ate them up- and I got a second healping of vegetables on his plate, too :) 

Hearty Meatball Sliders


1 (1-ounce) slice white bread
1/4 cup (1-ounce) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup low fat milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound (16-ounces) 96/4 lean ground sirloin
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 jar (large) organic Marinara Sauce
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
3 slices sharp prolovone cheese, cut into quarters
12 slider buns or small dinner rolls
Place bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 1/2 cup. Combine breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup grated cheese, and the next 6 ingredients.  Knead together with hands. Roll into heaping tablespoon-sized balls.

Heat cooking spray and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook for one minute. Add meatballs and brown for one minute.  Pour in jar of marinara; shake pan gently to mix. Put on lid and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

When ready to serve, cut each roll in half. Spoon 2 meatballs with the sauce onto the bottom bun; top with a wedge of Provolone and the top bun.

Nutrition Information
Serves 6 (2 sliders each- 4 meatballs and 2 buns)
Calories: 383
Fat: 10 g
Carbohydrate: 35 g
Fiber: 4 g
Protein: 28 g

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