My goal for this week is to loosely follow the Tone It Up 7 Day Slim Down plan that I did a couple of years ago. I really like that it focuses on eating lots of vegetables and protein. I always eat my veggies but I tend to eat more bread-y carbs than protein. It’s kind of fun challenging myself to try some new recipes, which is how these nut meatballs came about. I’ve been loving my spiralizer so zucchini noodles have been a regular thing.

zucchini noodlesThe only problem is that zucchini noodles and marinara sauce don’t have enough calories and certainly not enough protein to keep me full! So rather than making a veggie burger to eat on the side, I decided to try my hand at vegetarian meatballs made with nuts. It might sound crazy, but it’s actually a fairly popular thing in the vegetarian world!

I was surprised that I liked them so much! I’m not normally a big “fake meat” fan but since these are all natural and made with a few ingredients you certainly have in your pantry, it isn’t one of those franken-foods full of chemicals. Awesome, right?

nutmeat balls in the food processor

You could definitely serve these over regular pasta but since I was trying to keep things “Tone It Up” approved, I used zucchini noodles instead. Honestly, I love them! Now get out your food processor and let’s make some faux meatballs!

zucchini noodles and nut meat balls

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Nut “Meatballs”

  • Author: Liz Thomson
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 2-3 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: gluten free, vegan


This recipe makes 10 small meatballs.


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 3/4 cup raw walnuts
  • 3/4 cup brown rice, cooked
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tbsp flour*
  • (You could use chickpea flour or oat flour if you want to keep it gluten free. Or you could use all purpose flour if you don’t mind.)
  • 1 large (or 2 small) zucchini
  • 1 jar of marinara sauce


  1. Preheat the oven to 350
  2. In a large saucepan, cook the olive oil, onion and garlic over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the onion begins to soften.
  3. In the food processor, combine the walnuts, cooked rice, spices, and flour.
  4. Pulse until combined. (You’ll want it to look like the texture in the photo above.
  5. Add in the onion and garlic and continue to pulse until mixed.
  6. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  7. Roll the mixture into small balls and set onto the baking sheet.
  8. Bake at 350 for about 10-15 minutes.
  9. For the zucchini noodles, use a spiralizer or mandoline slicer to make thin strips of zucchini.
  10. Sautee over medium heat in a bit of olive oil for 2-3 minutes or until heated through.
  11. Drain well and serve! Top with nutmeat balls and marinara sauce.

zucchini noodles and vegetarian meatballs

I was surprised at how full we both were after we ate this! I couldn’t even finish all of it. (If you’ve ever had zucchini noodles then you probably know that they’re delicious but not always very filling.) I actually made the nut meat mixture before church and then put it in the oven when we got home. I think these would keep in the fridge for a couple of days as well. I can’t wait to make these again! Maybe on top of some spaghetti squash next time?

zucchini noodles and nut meat balls

I should also mention how lucky I am to have a husband who willingly eats zucchini noodles and nut meatballs. Seriously, I married a good one.

Have you ever tried nut “meat”?