Beef is often avoided by those with high cholesterol because it’s high in fat. But cooking with extra lean beef mince is a great way to continue eating beef as part of a low cholesterol diet, because it only contains 2g of saturated fat per 100g.
I love making meatballs, because they’re so easy, and you can add lots of vegetables to the sauce, making it a really healthy, nutritious and filling meal. You can also add lots of cholesterol-reducing ingredients, like garlic, ground flaxseeds, beans, olives and spinach.
It’s quite a long ingredient list, but some of the ingredients are optional – just exclude anything you don’t like. Once you’ve made the meatballs and chopped the vegetables, you just have to add things to the pan in stages and stir, so it’s a very easy recipe.
The secret ingredients are the soy sauce and sun-dried tomatoes, so I’d recommend not leaving those out. The soy sauce adds a really rich flavour and colour, and the sun-dried tomatoes add a lovely tangy taste.
Italian Beef Meatballs
- Serves: 4-6
- Preparation time: 10 mins
- Cooking time: 30 mins
- Difficulty: Easy
- 1kg extra lean mince (i.e. 2g sat fat per 100g)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 2-6 garlic cloves, minced or finely chopped (see notes)
- 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 beef stock cubes
- 1 yellow pepper, sliced
- 1 green pepper, sliced
- 6 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
- 8 cherry tomatoes
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 10 pitted kalamata or black olives (optional)
- 2 tbsp ground flaxseeds (optional)
- 200g tinned chickpeas/kidney beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
- 2 handfuls baby spinach
- Chilli flakes (optional)
- Salt and pepper
- Water (optional)
- Accompaniments (e.g. wholewheat spaghetti or courgette noodles)
- Take small handfuls of the beef mince and roll into meatballs in your hands (about 3cm diameter). Place on a large plate or baking tray.
- Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick pan (medium-to-high heat).
- Add the sliced onion and fry until soft (about 3 mins).
- Add the meatballs and fry until sealed (8-10 mins), turning every few mins.
- Add the garlic, chopped tomatoes, soy sauce, stock cubes, peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, olives and ground flaxseeds, then stir together.
- Simmer for 10 mins (you can use this time to prepare your accompaniments). Add a small amount of water to the pan after 5 mins if you want a thinner consistency.
- Add the chickpeas/beans (if using) and spinach, stir, then simmer for 2 mins.
- Add chilli flakes, salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with accompaniments.
- Garlic is a great cholesterol-lowering food, so I use 1 clove per person, but use as much as you like. I use a garlic mincer, as I don’t really like the taste of the ready-minced garlic you can buy in jars.
- The meatballs can be kept in the fridge once cooked to eat later in the week. In fact, I find they always taste even better once they’ve been left a couple of days. They also freeze really well.
- Click here to download a printable pdf of this recipe.