Crock Pot Tips and A Healthified Spaghetti & Meatballs

Crock pots are a busy life’s best friend.  Dump in some ingredients, turn it on low, and 7 to 8 hours later, you have a great meal!

They even make them with timers now, so you don’t have to be home at the end of 7 to 8 hours.  Fabulous news if you work outside the home or if you have other places you need to be 7 to 8 hours after turning on the crock pot.

You can make breakfast (click here for overnight carrot-apple oatmeal recipe), lunch, dinner, and even dessert in a crock pot.  Since this month is focused on healthy eating, I thought I’d share one of my favorite healthy crock pot recipes.

Before the recipe, I’ll go over some tips for using your crockery! 🙂

Slow Cooker Tips

  • Cooking times on crock pot meals are based off of thawed meat, unless indicated.  Frozen meat may take longer to cook.
  • Speaking of cooking times, you can usually change the cooking time by changing the heat setting between low and high.  One hour of high equals approximately two hours on low.  For example, a recipe that calls for 7 to 8 hours on low can be made in 3 to 4 hours on high.
  • Fill your crock pot between half and two-thirds full for best results.
  • Don’t open your crock pot during the cooking time.  Peeking in the slow cooker while it is cooking releases heat and will add to your cooking time.
  • When a recipe is meat and vegetables, you typically want to put your vegetables on the bottom of the crock pot with the meat on top.  The temperature is highest at the bottom of the crockpot, and generally-speaking vegetables need more cooking than meat.  This is especially true for root vegetables.

Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Meatballs

The recipe I’m sharing today is spaghetti squash with turkey meatballs in the crock pot.  I love making my own meatballs, stuffed with veggies.  However, store-bought frozen meatballs would be a huge timesaver and would also work in the slow cooker.

This recipe makes a TON of meatballs.  You have a couple options:

  • You can cook them all at once and have leftovers.
  • You can cook use the number of meatballs you need for your family, freezing the rest without being cooked.  To freeze them, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place the meatballs in a single layer with space between each meatball.  Allow to freeze for a few hours. Once frozen, put all in a freezer bag to be cooked as needed in the future.
  • You can cook extra meatballs in the oven (350F for about 30 minutes) then freeze in the same manner as above.

My girls turn their sweet little noses up at spaghetti squash.  So I supplement their meals with whole wheat noodles, adding them along with the spaghetti squash when serving.  They happily eat it all up.  Sneaking in veggies, such a mom thing to do!   Let me know what you think if you try the recipe!  Enjoy!

xoxo

Print Recipe
Crock Pot Spaghetti Squash with Veggie-Filled Turkey Meatballs
Turkey meatballs, filled with carrots and zucchini, are cooked in the slow cooker along side a spaghetti squash in this healthier version of the classic spaghetti and meatballs dinner.
Servings
Ingredients
Meatballs
Servings
Ingredients
Meatballs
Instructions
  1. Mix the meatball ingredients. If meatballs seem too wet, add additional oatmeal until desired consistency is reached. Form into balls.
  2. Cut spaghetti squash in half. Remove seeds from center. Place cut side down in slow cooker.
  3. Pour some spaghetti sauce around the squash in the bottom of the slow cooker. Add a layer of meatballs in the tomato sauce around the squash. Add another layer of spaghetti sauce, then another layer of meatballs. Continue until all the meatballs are in the slow cooker. Finish with sauce layer.
  4. Cook on low for 5-6 hours or high for 3 hours.
  5. Remove squash and shred into spaghetti-like strands. Mix squash back in with sauce and meatballs. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Store-bought frozen meatballs would also work with this recipe if you are pressed for time and can't make your own meatballs.

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