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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 ;)

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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 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped coarse
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped coarse
  • 1 small celery rib, chopped coarse
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 28 ounce (794 g) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups (355 ml) low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup (168 g) ditalini
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  • Combine chicken, pesto, pank, 1/8 tsp. salt, and a pinch of 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 on plate, cover, and refrigerate until needed.
  • Combine oil, onion, carrot, and celery in a large saucepan, cover, and cook over medium heat until onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes with their juice and broth, cover and simmer gently until carrot is softened, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Working in batches, process mixture in blender* until very smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Return pureed mixture to clean pot, cover, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in pasta and meatballs, cover, and simmer gently until pasta is tender and meatballs are cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.


I used an immersion blender for step 3. I didn’t feel like getting the blender out and making a mess with it so the immersion blender is a great alternative.


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.

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  1. I already have a favorite homemade Spaghettio’s recipe but I’m positive it’s not as healthy as this! :) Looks great!!

  2. I’ve never in my life had spaghetti o’s … for the obvious reason. I did buy a can for my kids when we were at high risk of losing power one time within the last however many months – probably a snowstorm – anyway…. they hated it lol. It was apparently too sweet or something and were weirded out by the super mini meatballs. What is wrong with my kids?! Maybe a homemade version would be more to their liking. I’ll have to give it a try sometime! :)

  3. I made something similar a couple weeks ago because I found some “o” pasta in the store…I love this with all the veggies though!