This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Oh, to be a kid again. It’s one of the most carefree years in your life. You really have no clue what’s ahead for you. You just live for the moment. I sometimes wish I could think like a kid and not be so overly worried and concerned! Speaking of being a kid again, I technically am going to go relive my childhood this weekend by going to Disney World! Yup, I absolutely cannot wait. I went to the Food Blog Forum at Disney last year, and going again this year! It’s going to be a magical weekend ;)

Email Yourself This Recipe!
Get the recipe link sent to your inbox! PLUS, we’ll send you fresh recipes weekly!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

I love when babies/toddlers are old enough to talk and they just have the cutest isms. They’re so literal and so matter-of-fact. Here are some Natalie-isms I wanted to share with you. Natalie is Jason’s 2 year old niece. I guess she’s technically mine now too since we’re married.

“What would you like for breakfast, Natalie? Hmmmm a big cookie!”
“Nat, who are you talking to on the phone? A boy.”
“Nat, do you want more bread? For Natnie’s belly.”

She’s so cute. She also calls me Jujee because she can’t say Julie yet :)

Anyway, I’m sure all of us as children have had the canned version of Spaghetti O’s. Honestly, even as bad as they are for you, I thought it tasted really good (haha what kinda food blogger am I?!), but today I bring you a healthier homemade version! I picked up this book, Comfort Foods Makeovers by America’s Test Kitchen a few months ago and I literally went through a stuck a little post-it on each page. There’s so many dishes in there I want to cook and best of all, they’re LIGHTER and HEALTHIER. They have a little picture at the bottom where it shows you before calories and after. It’s a really great book. It’s got all your classics and then some. Definitely makes you feel a little better about eating all your comfort foods. They also give you reasons as to why they did what they did and how it works to make the dish lighter. Neat, huh? :)

5 from 1 vote

Childhood Throwback: Spaghetti O’s with Meatballs

Remember spaghetti o’s from when you were a kid? Here’s a healthier and lighter adult version!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 6 ounces (170 g) ground chicken
  • 2 ½ tablespoon reduced-fat pesto
  • 2 tablespoon panko breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 ½ cups (355 ml) marinara sauce, or more
  • 2 cups (168 g) uncooked ditalini
Email Yourself This Recipe!
Get the recipe link sent to your inbox! PLUS, we’ll send you fresh recipes weekly!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.


  • Preheat oven to 350 °F (177 °C) and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Combine chicken, pesto, panko, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix with hands until uniform. Using a heaping teaspoon, lightly shape mixture into 3/4 inch round meatballs (about 28 meatballs). Place meatballs on prepared baking sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes until meatballs are just cooked through. Remove from oven and set aside.
  • Cook pasta according to directions on the package. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Drain well then add pasta to a large pot.
  • Add marinara sauce to the pot along with the meatballs and stir to incorporate. If the mixture is too thick, use the reserved pasta water to thin it out, ¼ cup at a time until desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with fresh parmesan cheese on top and fresh basil.


Serving: 1bowl, Calories: 234kcal, Carbohydrates: 33g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 25mg, Sodium: 324mg, Potassium: 592mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 6g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.

Like this? Leave a comment below!

There are affiliate links in this post.

You May Also Like...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. I touch the print button, and it opens a new window for just a millisecond before it closes. So I try printing using my mobile’s browser – 23 pages? Maybe the other sites that print better use something to not print menus, footers, and ads?

  2. The hubster and I made this last night, for some comfort food. It was amazing. I loved the meatballs. Looking forward to re-heating this meal for lunch at work today :)

  3. Natalie sounds adorable! The boyfriend’s son use to call me Stetatee because he couldn’t say Stephanie. hahaha

  4. I made this for my twins and they LOVED it! I did as well, so tasty! Thanks for sharing this – I love America’s Test Kitchen, I’ll need to pick up a copy of this book.

  5. It seems like I have been feeding canned Spaghetti O’s to my kid alot lately. I would feel much better about myself as a Mom if I was feeding him this instead.

  6. OMGosh! I so loved Spaghetti-Os! I have even seen the “Os” in an Italian restaurant supply store…I would love to make this for my brother – memories…(in my best Bah-bah-rah)

  7. I loved spaghetti-o’s as a child, this looks much better now though! I have to try this out :)

  8. I wonder why you have a pin button , if you do not want your posts pinned . I received an email from Pinterest , that you complained about copyrights , yet you have a pin button ?

  9. One of my favorites for sure! I started making homemade spaghetti-os afew months ago but have yet to make them with meatballs! Will have to try that soon!