As a gut health dietitian specializing in IBS, I take pride in helping my patients find easy and delicious meals they can enjoy on the low FODMAP diet. Meals that won’t take a TON of time and effort. That’s why I absolutely love these low FODMAP turkey meatballs. They are packed with protein plus provide gut-healthy fibre with added quinoa and spinach. I’m also a big fan of oven baked meatballs because there’s no need to stand over a frying pan as they cook. Once they’re in the oven, they’re ready in just 22 minutes!
Is spinach low FODMAP?
I’ve been asked this question a few times. In my 6 years as a gut health dietitian, I’ve had more than a few people tell me that they can see undigested spinach (and other leafy greens) in their stool. It can definitely send up some alarm bells when you see intact food when you’re about to flush. So is spinach a high FODMAP food that can impact IBS?
No. Spinach is low FODMAP unless you eat a LOT of it – consuming almost 3 cups of baby spinach is still only moderate in FODMAPs. It’s rare someone would eat enough to be concerned about the FODMAP content. This makes spinach a great food to include on a low FODMAP diet. Spinach is also packed with vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, folate, and calcium.
What if I see undigested spinach in stool?
Spinach and other leafy greens are all quite high in insoluble fiber, a type of fiber that moves through the digestive tract intact without getting broken down or absorbing water. This can be part of the reason you might notice green leafy bits in your stool. It’s actually very normal to see small fragments of leafy greens visible in stool. Additionally, some people notice the color of their stool appears more green after consuming lots of spinach – again very normal!
Some people do notice these stool changes more than others, but that doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong. If you don’t notice other negative effects like diarrhea, urgency, or abdominal pain alongside the leafy stool, it’s not likely a cause for concern. Seeing these undigested bits may also be a sign that you need to chew your food a bit more – after all, digestion begins in the mouth!
Ingredient Tips for the Best Low FODMAP Turkey Meatballs
Let’s highlight some of the amazing FODMAP friendly ingredients in this low FODMAP dinner recipe.
Meatballs Without Breadcrumbs: Use Quinoa Instead!
Many meatball recipes use breadcrumbs as a filler. They help to add quantity and to keep the meat from getting too dry. Since wheat is high in fructans, I wanted to find another option to keep this recipe low FODMAP. I’ve made meatloaf before using quinoa, so I figured that would be a great option for these as well – and it works great! Not only is quinoa low in FODMAPs, it also adds some extra protein and fibre to help keep you full. Plus, using quinoa makes this a gluten free meatball recipe.
No quinoa? You can actually use panko breadcrumbs (a lighter, flakier type of breadcrumbs) in this recipe if you’d prefer. Panko is low in FODMAPs up to 1 ¼ cups! Just keep in mind this swap would no longer make this recipe gluten free.
Is olive oil low FODMAP?
Olive oil doesn’t contain any carbohydrates, therefore it doesn’t contain FODMAPs. While I used regular extra virgin olive oil in this recipe, you could swap it to garlic-infused oil for extra flavour. Another neutral tasting oil would also be fine to use, such as canola oil, avocado oil, or sunflower oil.
Low FODMAP onion substitute
I’ve chosen to add diced green onion to this recipe to add some astringent onion flavour, without the FODMAPs. So long as you use the green tops only, you can safely use green onions (often called scallions) in low FODMAP recipes. This trick also applies with leeks!
A Note on Cheese: Is feta low FODMAP?
While we recommend avoiding lactose on a low FODMAP elimination diet, not all dairy products contain much lactose. Typically, fluid or runny types of dairy like milk, cream, ice cream, yogurt, and cottage cheese contain the most lactose. Firmer cheeses like cheddar, parmesan, havarti, and swiss are low in lactose, so long as you stick with portions of about 40 grams or less.
Feta cheese is the same. Monash indicates that 3 tablespoons of feta (40 grams) is considered low FODMAP. If you’re not a feta fan, you could also swap it to shredded parmesan in this low FODMAP turkey meatball recipe.
How to Make Baked Spinach & Feta Turkey Meatballs
Before starting the recipe, preheat your oven to 375°F. Prepare a sheet pan with aluminum foil. Parchment paper would also work fine. The goal here is to ensure the meatballs don’t stick to the pan. It also makes for easy clean up!
NOTE – you need to have cooked quinoa for this recipe. If you haven’t done so, take some time to prepare this.
Let’s get started! First you’ll need to prepare the spinach and green onion by sautéing them in a pan. Prepare the spinach by laying two large handfuls of spinach on a cutting board. Chop the spinach roughly.
Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the diced green onion and sauté it for about 30-60 seconds until the green onion is fragrant and a bit soft. Then, add the chopped spinach and cook it until it has fully wilted. Stir it around to ensure all the leaves get cooked evenly. This will likely take about 1-2 minutes. It’s pretty quick!
Remove the cooked green onion and spinach from heat.
Time to make the meatball mixture!
In a large bowl, whisk the egg. Then, in the same bowl (on top of the whisked egg), add ground turkey, cooked quinoa, the spinach and green onion you sautéed, crumbled feta, salt, and pepper. Using clean hands, mix all ingredients together until they are evenly combined. The mixture will be sticky, but should hold its form.
Form the meatballs by shaping the turkey mixture with your hands. Each one should be about 1 heaping tablespoon. I actually used a tablespoon to scoop the mixture for consistency. The mixture should make approximately 24 meatballs. Set the meatballs evenly on the foil-lined sheet pan as you go. When they’re all formed, brush the top of each meatball with a thin layer of olive oil.
Bake the meatballs for 22 minutes in the preheated oven or until the internal temperature is 165°F on a meat thermometer. Once they’re done, remove them from the oven and let them cool a bit. Serve with your favourite low FODMAP sides. I chose to have mine with rice, 1/2 cup cooked zucchini, and a bit of FODMAP friendly tzatziki!
Baked Spinach & Feta Turkey Meatballs (Low FODMAP)
- 70 grams spinach (approximately 2 large handfuls)
- ¼ cup green onion diced
- 2 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1 lb extra lean ground turkey
- ¾ cup cooked quinoa
- 1 large egg
- 2 oz crumbled feta (approximately 1/3 cup)
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Prepare a sheet pan with aluminum foil.
- Chop the spinach roughly. In a large frying pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add diced green onion and sauté for about 30-60 seconds until fragrant. Add chopped spinach and cook until it has fully wilted, stirring to ensure it cooks evenly. Remove the cooked green onion and spinach from heat.
- In a large bowl, whisk the egg. To the same bowl, add ground turkey, cooked quinoa, cooked spinach/green onion, crumbled feta, salt, and pepper. Using clean hands, mix all ingredients together until evenly combined.
- Form meatballs by shaping the turkey mixture with your hands. Each one should be about 1 heaping tablespoon. This will make around 24 meatballs. Set the meatballs evenly on the foil-lined sheet pan and brush the top of each with olive oil.