Some of my favorite appetizer style meatballs when I was younger were always the pre-made ones that you toss in the crock pot to simmer with cranberry and chili sauce.
However… canned cranberry sauce has quite a bit of calories to it and pre-made meatballs are not filled with the most health conscious ingredients.
So, this is my take on that game day classic!
I had quite an internal battle going on inside me of I wanted the ‘skinny’ alternative to canned cranberry sauce would be. I had seen where some people used grape jelly… hm, perhaps.
A low sugar grape jelly? Perhaps.
Apple Butter? Perfect!
Apple Butter has just a few more calories in it than the low sugar grape jelly, but… I can actually read the ingredients on the label and know exactly what they are. Which means there’s no junk in there! I’ll sacrifice a few calories to eat cleaner any day.
I think the only thing I’ll do differently is to sub some of the breadcrumbs for shredded carrots or spinach. I also want to try this recipe out using ground turkey instead of the beef!
Skinny ‘Game Day’ Meatballs
Servings: 30 • Size: 1 Meatball • Calories: 107.2 • Fat: 3.6 g • Carb: 11.5 g • Fiber: 0.3 g • Protein: 6.6 g • Sugar: 7.5 g • Sodium: 243.5 mg
2 Lb. Extra Lean Ground Beef
1/2 C. Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs
1/2 C. Parmesan Cheese, Grated
1/4 C. White Onion, Minced
2-3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
2 Egg Whites
2 Tsp. Parsley
2 Tsp. Basil
Salt & Pepper to Taste
1 1/2 C. Apple Butter (I used Mussleman’s.)
12 Oz. Jar Chili Sauce
Combine the ingredients for the meatballs together in a large bowl until well incorporated.
In another bowl, mix together the ingredients for the sauce and pour half into the bottom of your crock pot.
Using a 1-2 tbsp. measuring spoon, scoop the meatball mixture evenly and roll with your hands to form into rounded meatballs. Place them into the crock pot.
Yes, you’re putting the raw meatballs into the sauce!
I went with a 2 tbsp. size because I like big meatballs (and I cannot lie.) If you go with 1 tbsp. you will have about 60 smaller meatballs.
Pour the remaining sauce mixture over the top and carefully toss around or use your hands to coat the meatballs evenly.
Cover and cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.
If you can, try to stir the contents a bit about halfway through cooking to help re-coat and move the meatballs around.
I know it looks really full of meat and not much sauce… but trust me, a few hours in and it’ll all start to work itself out. The meat shrinks and the liquid doubles.
Once done, remove the lid on the crock pot and give a careful stir.
Serve warm with pretzel sticks.
…Or even serve over a mixed melody of rice and sautéed vegetables. Enjoy!