Healthy Red Meat Challenge

One of the healthiest, tastiest and most versatile of ingredients for a quick meal that the whole family can enjoy includes lean red meat. Experts recommend that you include lean red meat in your child’s diet from weaning onwards as it provides a range of important nutrients that are often low in toddlers and children; these include zinc, B vitamins, selenium and potassium.

In recent years, red meat has been targeted as being one of the more unhealthy options for dinners. Now expert nutritionists fear that this negative press has mislead many and is actually having a detrimental impact upon children’s health. According to Dr Emma Derbyshire, if eaten in moderation, lean red meat can help to ‘bridge nutrient gaps and so help to maintain good health through childhood and beyond’.

We have always enjoyed red meat and as a family, we usually eat it two or three times a week. We tend to have a couple of days during the week, which are busier than others are due to work commitments, the children’s social calendar or just general life. It’s on these busier days that we tend to favour red meat dinners such as a simple spaghetti bolognese, meatball pasta or cottage pie.

They are dinners that I not only find simple to put together but I can also stuff them with as many vegetables as I can to ensure the children are eating a healthy, balanced diet. The dish I am sharing today is one of the whole family’s favourites – meatball pasta.

This dish is so simple; it is perfect for a busy midweek meal.

What’s inside?

I use the Tesco finest mini lean mice meatballs (if I had the extra time, I would make the meatballs myself) as these are a great size for the children and I find they are also easer to cook with, Tesco pasata with garlic and herbs, spinach, carrots, a sweet pepper, (my secret ingredient – marmite) and Tesco quick cook Fusilli pasta.


The first thing I do is brown the meatballs. I don’t add any additional fat as I feel the beef mince has enough natural fat that it doesn’t need anything else. Once the meat had browned, I add the pasata and tablespoon of marmite and leave to simmer.

While this is simmering, I peel and cut the carrots and chop the peppers and put them on to boil. Once boiled, l blitz the carrots and sweet pepper in the blender, and add to the pasata to thicken the sauce and add some extra flavour.

As the quick cook pasta only takes 5 minutes, I leave this until last. While the pasta is boiling, I remove the meatballs and sauce that I will use for the children (giving it time to cool) and add some spinach leaves to the remainder keeping it on a very low heat. By the time the pasta has boiled, the spinach has softened and everything is ready to serve.

The outcome

Empty plates! This is one of the only dishes I know the children won’t fuss over and will sometimes even ask for seconds. Isabella tells me this dinner is super-duper scrummy yummy and Benjamin says that it’s yummy in tummy. The whole meal comes to about £5 for a family of 4 and we sometimes have enough for a lunch the following day which is why I chose this recipe to include.


  1. Empty plates are always a very good sign of success. Commenting for myself and on behalf of BritMums and thanking you for taking part

  2. Ooh this is delicious, I love the fact you blitz the veg to add to the sauce what a great idea!

    Thank you for linking up to Foodie Friday 🙂


  1. […] Meatball pasta – I love meatballs and pasta, so this recipe is going to be a big hit with this household. I loved this recipe due to the blended vegetables added to the sauce. I have never thought to do this and I am sure it adds so much flavour to the sauce. […]

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