• 8 ounce brick fat free mozzarella cheese
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1/4 cup (5 to 6) sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
  • 1/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup shredded fat free mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon no salt added tomato paste
  • 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon hickory smoked sea salt
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 pounds extra lean ground beef chuck (95% lean)
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 3 tablespoons grated onion
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • Marinara sauce, warmed, for serving (optional)

This recipe has been one of my most popular – both on the internet and here at home. When it came time for me to choose what video to do first, this was a no brainer. One of the first foods I thought of when I found out about my having celiac was spaghetti and meatballs. Hey – I’m Italian. I can’t help it! I took this Giada de Laurentiis recipe and modified it to cut out a lot of the fat and calories. It’s also naturally gluten-free so we GFers can be part of the gang!

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Dice the mozzarella brick into 1/2-inch cubes. Set aside.

In a food processor, pulse the shallots, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, shredded mozzarella, parmesan, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, smoked salt, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until blended. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the beef, pork and onion and mix until combined. Form into 1 – 1 1/4-inch meatballs. Insert 1 cube mozzarella into the center of each meatball and form the meat around it, enclosing the cheese.

Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Place meatballs on tray and spray meatballs with cooking spray. Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes, or until cooked through. Cool slightly, then serve immediately with marinara sauce, if desired.

Here’s the skinny:

First, I used fat free mozzarella cheese for both the stuffing and the meatball mixture. Giada uses smoked mozzarella, so I added some hickory smoked sea salt to give it the smoky flavor, since they don’t make fat free smoked mozzarella. I also cut the amount of parmesan in half to cut more fat and calories.

Also, I used a no salt added tomato paste to cut down on some sodium.

For the meat, Giada uses 1 1/2 pounds 80% lean chuck and 1 pound ground pork. I cut the pork in half and used a lean ground beef. To give it more moisture due to the loss of fat, I added grated onion, which adds moisture and flavor.

Lastly, Giada fries her meatballs. I baked them instead and sprayed with cooking spray to help it brown without adding any fat.