Olive Garden is one of my favorite restaurants, but it is also one of the most unhealthy. It is convenient Italian food, which can give you a sense of the carb load, but it is most noted for its calorie count and salt lick level sodium. I love their mega portion and tasty sauces (probably from a can) but my vegan, vegetarian, and healthy lifestyle will not let me chow down at Olive Garden as I did in my youth, lol. I have decided to scale back the recipes and substitute in some healthier alternative ingredients so that I can enjoy the Italian fare at home. Starting with the classic dish, Spaghetti and Meatballs.

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Vegan/Vegetarian Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

Attribution: Whole Foods Market’s Spaghetti and Vegan Meatballs http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/spaghetti-and-vegan-meatballs


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup chopped white mushrooms
1 cup packed baby spinach
1 cup cooked black beans
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup bread crumbs
Enough cooked whole wheat spaghetti and low sodium marinara to satisfy your heart


Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Sautee the onions and garlic in the olive oil until they are soft and translucent.

Add the mushrooms and baby spinach to the skillet and cover. After about 5 minutes that should be soft and wilted. Remove form heat.

Place the sautéed vegetables, black beans, basil, and oregano to a food processor. Blend until smooth.

Add the breadcrumbs to the food processor and mix until combined.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Use a cookie scooper or tablespoon to portion the black bean mixture into a mini muffin tin or onto a baking pan.

Bake for 30 minutes.

When the meatballs are done, use them to crown your beautiful pile of whole wheat spaghetti and sauce.