One of the best vegan and gluten free weeknight meals to make. A high protein meal prep meatballs recipe made with quinoa for a delicious recipe with a good texture. Made with quinoa and black beans and served with a marinara sauce they are loaded with goodness making it a healthy family dinner recipe.Jump to Recipe
A vegan AND gluten free recipe
You know I am all about healthy family meals, but not ones that require hours in the kitchen. I try my best to create recipes for you guys that are healthy BUT fairly easy to prep or that can be made ahead of time. In addition, finding easy vegan AND gluten free recipes can sometimes be a challenge.
Making these quinoa meatballs is easy but there are a few steps required, which is why I suggest you make them as a meal prep meal. I left the recipe for the marinara sauce here but feel free to use your fav store-bought sauce if you want to cut down on time.
Choose your health over convenience
These vegan, gluten-free quinoa meatballs are a healthy option to feed to your kiddos. It is so tempting to go out and buy the ready-made vegan meatballs or ‘chicken’ fingers. Trust me I have been there at the grocery store, standing in front of the freezer aisle thinking how easy dinner could be tonight. To open a bag, pop the food in the oven and call it a night.
But I have my son’s gluten-free needs to snap me back to reality. His dietary restrictions make it so I always have to read the label of any food I think about purchasing. This is a blessing and a curse. I always know about the crappy ingredients but I also KNOW about the crappy ingredient. So most of the time I don’t buy it. Reading the label on food packages is eye-opening.
Since most frozen or processed foods have some form of gluten in them we generally can not partake in eating them.
That is part of the reason I cook vegan and gluten free recipes daily for my family. And because we have witnessed first hand how food and health are interwoven together. Every day I make the choice to choose health over convenience and it is not always easy. Photos of my son’s eczema or re-reading our journey to health post always helps to keep me on track and make this decision when I want to quit.
How to make these
So instead I opt to make our own quinoa meatballs, or ‘chicken’ tenders at home, With clean and simple ingredients!
Ok, so to make these meatballs high protein I used black beans and quinoa. I love using quinoa in meatballs because it works as a binder, so I get to use less gluten-free flour. Sometimes the amount of flour you need to get the meatballs to stick together overpowers the recipe. Then you end up having to spice or salt the crap out of them to make them taste good.
Quinoa itself doesn’t have a strong flavour so there is no need to use a lot of spice here. If you have kids you know that this is a good thing because not all kids can handle an overly spiced recipe. My middle guy keeps me in check there because my other 2 can eat sriracha at this point!
To help flavour the meatballs I added sauteed mushrooms. Mushrooms have such a rich flavour and work so well in vegetarian recipes by adding a ‘meaty’ flavour. My middle guy (always the picky eater) HATES mushrooms but he didn’t notice them in this recipe. The mushrooms go into the food processor along with the beans and quinoa so there is noticeable flavour.
Meal prep meatballs with quinoa and black beans
While this recipe is easy enough to make on weeknights, I do like to meal prep them by making them on the weekend. they freeze super well so you can go ahead and make a double batch if you have a big family.
If you want an easier version of this recipe just use store-bought marinara sauce. After making the quinoa meatballs just add them to a pan with the sauce to heat up. Then serve over pasta or rice or even just eat it with a salad. I love this option for lunch!
I suggest that the first time you make these you do it on a weeknight or weekday that is not super busy. That way you can take your time familiarizing yourself with the recipe and making sure you don’t rush thru it. It is not a complicated recipe by any means but I find vegan meatball recipes can sometimes be tricky the first time around.
This is because the texture of the meatballs can vary if your quinoa is slightly wetter then mine or if you don’t drain your beans as well. Or vice versa. But once you get the hang for how the batter should feel then this recipe (like many others) gets super easy.
If you want to add any questions or inputs to these question please leave a comment below. Just scroll all the way to the bottom of the post!
OK, now on to the recipe! I hope you enjoy these healthy meal prep quinoa meatballs. For more easy weeknight family recipes be sure to check these out:
- One-pot bean chili recipe
- Meatless eggplant meatball recipe,
- Gluten free vegan lasagna
- High protein vegan shepherd’s pie
Until next time, tchau
- 1 ½ cups black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup quick oats add another 1/2 cup if batter is too wet
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- ½ cup chickpea flour
- ½ cup black olives pitted, about 15
- ½ onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1 tbsp soy sauce gluten free
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup white mushrooms sliced
- 1 tbsp soy sauce gluten free
Marinara sauce (skip if using store bought)
- 1 onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1 ½ tbs coconut sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 4 roma tomatoes diced
- 1 ½ cups tomato puree 1 can
Making the quinoa meatballs
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile cook the quinoa (if you haven’t already) as per package directions. Then to a saucepan add the mushrooms and soy sauce and sautee for about 5 minutes.
- To a food processor add in all the ingredients for the meatballs, including the cooked quinoa and sauteed mushrooms. Process until a batter forms. It should be wet but sticky enough that you can form meatballs. If the batter is to wet add in more chickpea flour.
- Roll with your hands into meatballs and place onto a baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes then increase the heat to 425 and shake the pan to move the meatballs around. Bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden.
Making the marinara sauce
- In a large saucepan over medium heat sautee the onions in the olive oil until soft. Then add in the garlic and spices. Cook for another few minutes then add in the tomatoes and tomato puree.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for another 15-20 minutes. If you like a sweeter sauce you can simmer the sauce for another 30 minutes but I find that after 15-20 minutes the sauce is perfect.
- Add in the meatballs, stir and turn off the heat. Let it sit for 5 minutes to allow the meatballs to absorb some of the sauce. Then serve over pasta, rice or with a side salad.NOTES
Some FAQ answered:
- What are these meatballs made from: You can make plant based meatballs out of so many things. To make these high protein and gluten free we used quinoa and black beans. They come together very well in the food processor and take roughly 30 minutes to cook in the oven.
- Do vegan meatballs taste like meat: they are pretty close but not exactly. they taste very delicious but they are less oily then a traditional meatball. They are very hearty and satisfying however and will make your tummy and your taste buds very happy!
- How long can you store them: These vegan gluten free meatballs will last 5 days in the fridge after being cooked. You can also make then a day or so ahead of cooking if you like.
- Can you freeze plant based meatballs: Yes! these vegan meatballs can be placed in the freezer after they cool and will last 3 months. Once frozen you can cook from frozen on low heat or place into the fridge a day ahead so they thaw. Then reheat them on the stove in a pan with some vegan butter or BBQ sauce. alternatively to keep them oil-free you can just bake them at 400 for 15 minutes.