Make This At Home: A Senior Eats® Recipe for Baked Spinach-Turkey Meatballs with Marinara

Sunrise Senior Living  |  September 23, 2014

At Sunrise communities, dining is all about fresh, flavorful and nutritious meals. Sunrise culinary professionals meet the unique nutritional needs of seniors, while also creating a variety of delicious and creative offerings.

This year, Sunrise hosted the second annual Senior Eats® Nutritional Challenge at The Fairfax, a Sunrise community in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Five chefs from Sunrise communities across the U.S. and Canada competed in the cook-off competition. Lye Fung Wong, chef at Sunrise of Aurora, ON, was one of the five finalists chosen. She has loved cooking since childhood and acknowledges her parents as her inspiration. Lye also literally dreams about food, which is where the idea for her submission to this cook-off all began!

Her recipe features baked spinach turkey meatballs with marinara sauce. Turkey, specifically skinless turkey, has been shown in recent studies to decrease the risk of pancreatic cancer when 1 to 4 ounces or more is consumed daily. Turkey has also been shown to help keep post-meal insulin levels within an appropriate range, making this lean protein a good choice for diabetics. Turkey is an excellent source of low-fat protein, with a 4-ounce portion of skinless turkey breast providing 30-35 grams of protein with less than 1 gram of fat.

Lye Fung Wong Baked Spinach Turkey Meatballs with Marinara Sauce
Serves 6

1 tbsp olive oil
½ each yellow onion, peeled / chopped
½ each red bell pepper, seeded / chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled / minced
1 carrot, peeled / finely chopped
½ stalk celery, chopped
2 tbsp red wine
6 cups canned plum tomatoes
1 tbsp chopped oregano
1 tsp chopped thyme

Heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion and peppers. Cook until vegetables are soft. Add the garlic, carrots and celery. Cook for 5 minutes more. Add the wine to deglaze, scraping the bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes and herbs. Bring to a simmer. Simmer gently for 30 minutes.Turn off the heat. Purée the sauce with a hand blender or in small batches in a blender. Stir the sauce, return to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes more.

1 ¼ lbs ground turkey
¾ cup finely chopped sautéed spinach
½ cup peeled / grated sweet potato
½ each yellow onion, peeled / minced
¼ cup grated parmesan
2 eggs
2 tbsp oatmeal
2 cloves garlic, peeled / minced
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
¾ tsp ground black pepper


Combine all ingredients. Divide into 18 even portions and shape into balls. Spray a baking tray with pan spray. Arrange meatballs on the tray.  Bake at 350˚F for 15 – 20 minutes, until golden brown and internal temperature reaches 165˚F for 15 seconds. Combine meatballs and sauce. Serve immediately.