Hawaiian Meatballs (made with chickpeas)

These Hawaiian Meatballs have it all! Sweet and tangy sauce, over the top flavor in the meatballs, and completely plant based! Did we mention they are meal prep friendly, too?

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Bowl with rice, meatballs, and onions and bell peppers.

How is this recipe good for my heart?

I packed tons of nutrition in this meal for your heart from the bottom up! We started with a whole grain – brown rice – with lots of fiber and some healthy fats.

I made a change from your typical Hawaiian meatball recipe and packed in the veggies! I’m talking several large spoons full of peppers and onions instead of that sparse piece of sad green pepper you’re hard pressed to find in some other versions. This makes the meal more filling for fewer calories but more nutrition – especially vitamin C.

I also used only pineapple juice to sweeten the sauce, and completely forwent any sugar. It ended up having the perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess, and no sugar was needed at all.

I suppose the biggest, and most obvious change I made is in the meatball itself. Which isn’t really a MEATball, but a BEANball. Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it? Anyway, I substituted the usual beef or chicken with chickpeas, and added tons of flavor. The result is a ridiculously tasty little meatball, that actually stays together, and is high in protein AND fiber! Yay! You MUST try these. And since most people don’t eat nearly enough of either beans or vegetables, this is the perfect meal to boost your intake of both!

Tips and Substitutions

Make it low carb!

Make this meal low carb (and lower calorie), by using cauliflower rice instead of regular rice. A frozen option will work just great!

No chickpeas?

No problem. Use any type of cooked dry bean or lentil you have!

What is a replacement for oats?

You can use bread crumbs (look for whole wheat if you can) instead of oats as an easy replacement. You can also use any whole grain flour, almond flour, etc. Cooked grains, while I haven’t tested them, I feel are unlikely to work well. You want something to absorb liquid to help hold the meatballs together.

What is Chinese five spice, and where can I get it?

This is the star of the meatball, so don’t leave it out! You can get it at most retailers now, and both McCormick and Simply Organic have a version. If you can’t find it, you can make your own, if you have the spices. Here is a great recipe for Chinese Five Spice.

Glass meal prep containers, filled with rice, meatballs, and onions and peppers.

Love plant based meatballs? You’ve GOT to try my Italian Style Black Bean Meatballs! Also look for our other meal prep friendly recipes: Thai Salad with Peanut Dressing, and Healthy Burrito Bowls with Cilantro Lime Quinoa.

If you make Hawaiian Meatballs, let me know in the comments!

Hawaiian Meatballs (made with chickpeas)

These Hawaiian Meatballs have it all! Sweet and tangy sauce, over the top flavor in the meatballs, and completely plant based! Did we mention they are meal prep friendly, too?

Course Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine American
Diet GlutenFreeDiet, LowFatDiet, LowLactoseDiet, LowSaltDiet, VeganDiet, VegetarianDiet
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 5
Calories 495 kcal
Author Laura Yautz

Ingredients

For the Meatballs

  • 3 Tbsp No Added Salt Tomato Paste
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp ground Chia Seeds
  • 1 15 oz can Chickpeas, no added salt, rinsed and drained
  • cup Rolled Oats
  • ¼ cup minced Onion
  • ¼ cup chopped Parsley
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • ½ inch piece fresh Ginger, grated
  • ¼ – ½ tsp Chinese Five Spice
  • Cooking Spray or Oil for baking

For the Vegetables and Sauce

  • 3 Bell Peppers, any color, chopped
  • 2 large Onions, chopped
  • 20 oz can Pineapple Chunks, in 100% Juice
  • 1 cup Water
  • cup Rice Vinegar
  • ¼ cup Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 inch piece of fresh Ginger, grated
  • 2 Tbsp Cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp Cold Water

To serve:

  • 2 ½ cups cooked Brown Rice

Instructions

  1. If you haven’t already made the rice, get that started first, and let it cook while you prepare the rest of the meal.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  3. Mix the tomato paste, olive oil, and chia seeds together in a small bowl, and set aside.
  4. Into a large food processor, add the chickpeas, rolled oats, onion, parsley, garlic, ginger, and Chinese five spice. Lastly, add the tomato paste mixture.
  5. Pulse the food processor until the mixture comes together in sort of a lumpy dough. You will probably have to scrape down the sides of the food processor a few times.
  6. Using a tablespoon, form small meatballs with the dough, placing them on a lined (or greased) baking sheet. You should get around 20 meatballs.
  7. Lightly spray each meatball with cooking spray, or brush with oil.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until crispy on the outside.
  9. While the meatballs are baking, make the vegetables and sauce.
  10. In a large skillet, add the chopped peppers and onions, canned pineapple (both solids and liquid), water, rice vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and ginger, and bring to a simmer.
  11. Reduce heat if needed, and continue to simmer for at least 12 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  12. Mix the cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl with a fork, and pour into the vegetable mixture.
  13. Continue to simmer and stir for a minute until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat.

For immediate consumption

  1. Gently stir the meatballs into the sauce, and serve hot over rice.

For meal prep

  1. Measure ½ cup of rice into each bowl or container. Divide the vegetables among the 5 bowls and top with any extra sauce. Place the meatballs on top of the rice, out of the sauce. The meatballs will hold up to sauce for a few hours, but not days. Mix them into the sauce right before eating.

Bowl with rice, meatballs, and onions and bell peppers. Text overlay: Hawaiian Meatballs; Meal prep friendly!
Bowl with rice, meatballs, and onions and bell peppers. Text overlay: Hawaiian Meatball Bowls; Made with chickpeas.
Glass meal prep container filled with rice, meatballs, and onions and bell peppers. Text overlay: Sweet and Sour Meatballs; for meal prep! Made with chickpeas.

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