Or even better — Spaghetti SUPERSTARS! This remake of a childhood favorite is better than the original, better for you, and full of a rainbow of veggies!
How would you like a big ol’ bowl of childhood?
…Or cat food? Because let’s just state the obvious here. I know I’m new to this, but I promise I’m not blogging about the benefits of adding cat food to your diet. I’m still trying to figure out this food photography thing, and it doesn’t make it any easier when you have 0 natural light thanks to a huge thunderstorm… so maybe take it easy on me? I was close to defeat with this one.
It’s back-to-school season, which means this is the perfect time to share these homemade SpaghettiOs. I wanted to choose a kid-friendly recipe that is full of vegetables because it can be a little tough to find time to get a healthy dinner on the table once school begins and families are on-the-go.
I’m sure many of us can remember those little circle-shaped pastas swimming in cheesy tomato sauce. I can even remember arguing with my younger brother about whether Mom should buy the one with meatballs or the one with franks. I can’t remember how much I truly enjoyed them, but SpaghettiOs have been on the shelves for almost fifty years, so they must hold a special place in our hearts and tummies. And when it comes to childhood comforts, I think SpaghettiOs probably fall at the top of the list for some people who have grown up to share them with the next generation.
Unfortunately, SpaghettiOs are not so good for us, despite the fact that they are made and marketed for children. Just one-half of a can of SpaghettiOs contains more than half of the suggested daily allowance for sugar and sodium for children 4 to 8 years of age. Not only that, but there’s little to them in terms of their nutrient value. I know many families are trying to cut down on the amount of processed foods they’re consuming for this very reason, and it can be difficult to overlook the convenience factor now that kids are going back to school and there’s less time to prepare meals or worry about picky eaters. But you can do it! Once you start that transition and get through the initial shock phase, it’s smooth sailing and you’re on to a healthier you and a healthier family!
One obstacle to changing eating habits is change itself. When your family is used to eating certain foods or seeing them in a certain form, it’s easy to be a little cautious and weary of new items on the menu. One way to start out with the transition is to inspire kids and adults to try new things and eat more vegetables by serving them in ways that are familiar — they’re much more open when it looks like something they already know. And when foods are homemade, they usually taste better and have more flavor, so all you really need is to get them going on the first bite! That’s where these homemade SpaghettiOs can come to the rescue!
Chop up all of those veggies.
Sauté the rest of the veggies until soft and season with salt and pepper.
Start the pasta, allowing the vegetable mixture to cool. Next, add the veggies to a food processor or blender and start it up until it’s all pureed. (It will look a little like baby food.) Then blend in the tomato sauce and slowly add the vegetable broth. It will start to resemble a sauce.
Pour the sauce mixture into a large pot or skillet, add the cheese, and heat on low until heated through. Add it to your pasta and serve it up!
And you know what else would be great with these Spaghetti Stars?! Broccoli Balls!
- 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 small yellow squash, diced
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1-2 15 oz. cans tomato sauce (no salt added), depending on your desired level of "soupyness"
- 1-2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 lb. small-shaped pasta (whole wheat if you can!)
- 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- salt and pepper
- Melt butter in a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat and sweat the onions and garlic, about 2 minutes.
- Add the celery, and carrots to the pan and cook about 3 minutes.
- Add the squash and cook vegetables until tender, about 10-12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
- Begin to cook pasta, allowing the vegetable mixture to cool for at least 5 minutes.
- Place the vegetable mixture in a food processor or blender* and pulse until pureed (it will start to resemble baby food).
- Add the tomato sauce (2 cans if you want it a little soupy) and process, slowly streaming in the vegetable broth until it reaches your desired texture.
- Pour the sauce mixture into the pot or skillet over low-medium heat. Add the cheese. Stir occasionally until cheese is melted and sauce is heated through. Add salt and pepper, if needed.
- Add the sauce to the drained pasta. Stir to combine.
- A blender will be much more useful than the food processor in terms of liquefying the ingredients to more closely resemble the texture of the original SpaghettiOs sauce.
- If you do not have either appliance or do not have time to process the ingredients, it would be fine to serve this as a chunky version of a basic vegetable pasta sauce.
- Keeps well in a lunch box.
- Remember: Recipes are not strict and you can add or subtract ingredients -- make it what you love!