We love pasta in our house and I try to kick up the nutrition by making Healthy Kid Friendly Spaghetti Shells at least once a week. Spaghetti and my grandma's Spanish Rice make it on meal plan pretty much weekly.
Growing up, we had my mom's spaghetti and meatballs at least once a week. My mom always made a big pot of homemade sauce that would last a few meals. I have vivid memories of her chopping up garlic and onions and opening cans of tomato paste and puree. She would make a big pot of sauce on Sundays and we would enjoy it that evening with salad, lots of Parmesan cheese and crusty Italian bread. Here I am probably around 4 years old stuffing my face with pasta - no surprise there.
Sure, homemade sauce is always best but somedays I have to resort to sauce out of a jar. Life is busy and sometimes homemade sauce doesn't happen. I do try to look at the jarred sauce and I pick the ones that have less sugar added. Our kids (and us too!) get enough sugar throughout the day. We don't need to much of it in our spaghetti sauce. What I do is just add a bunch of healthy stuff to it.
Sauce is a wonderful place to incorporate or "hide" loads and loads of vegetables. This is a great way to up your dark leafy green intake if you are looking to do so. Cut up dark leafy greens really small and cook in the sauce and you won't even know they are there. Neither will your kids. I love zucchini with pasta but my 6-year-old, Madilyn, doesn't like it so I leave it in big chunks that she can pick around. I never force my kids to eat. However, they get a little of everything I am serving on their plate. They might surprise us and like something new. Give them that opportunity.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 jar of store bought pasta sauce
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bunch of dark leafy greens (kale, swiss chard, spinach), chopped fine
- 2 zucchini, sliced thin
- 1 bag of brown rice pasta shells
- To make the marinara sauce, in a heavy skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, chopped onions, basil, oregano and black pepper. Saute for a few minutes. Add the zucchini and greens. Add the sauce. Simmer covered until the sauce thickens, about 30 minutes.
- Fill a large pot ¾ full with water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente (tender), about 15 minutes, or according to package directions. Drain the pasta thoroughly.
- Divide the pasta evenly among individual plates. Top with the marinara sauce and a little parmesan cheese. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Brown rice pasta is a great alternative to wheat pasta. I know that I just feel better eating brown rice pasta compared to wheat pasta. Wheat pasta makes me feel heavy and full with a big belly after dinner! No one wants that, right? Brown rice pasta doesn't do that. Try it! Here is my favorite brand. Oh, here is my favorite organic jarred spaghetti sauce.
How can you make your favorite pasta dish a little healthier? Tell me in the comments below.
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