A Healthy Spaghetti Recipe the Whole Family Will Love
I used to not make spaghetti because I thought pasta was “bad.”
I’m so glad I know that mindset isn’t healthy now, because spaghetti is such a quick and easy dinner to make. Even though I firmly believe there’s no such thing as “bad” foods, I do know that some choices are better than others.
That’s why I spent time making 4 simple upgrades so I can feel better about what my family eats while making dinner time easy on myself.
This recipe has become a favorite in our house — even for our kids (ages 11 and 5).
The 4 Upgrades
Before you jump straight to the recipe, it’s important to understand the concepts behind how I made our spaghetti recipe a bit healthier. It’ll help you with ideas for how to improve ANY dish — even your own spaghetti recipe if you don’t want to copy mine exactly.
The 4 upgrades are…
1. Add Protein
I turned a simple red sauce into a meat sauce. Add a pound of your favorite ground meat and sauté it before making the sauce.
Personally, I use lean ground beef (93/7) and no one complains. There’s enough flavor in this dish to more than make up for what you might get from a fattier meat.
That said, the goal is just to get extra protein, since spaghetti is usually lacking in that area. So whatever you choose to use is better than a carb-only dinner.
2. Upgrade the Pasta
I opted for protein pasta. Often made out of lentils or beans, it (obviously) boosts the protein in the dish. Some brands are better tasting than others, so you may have to go through some trial and error to find one your family likes.
With the kind we use, our kids have no idea it isn't just regular spaghetti. (Email me if you want to know the brand — no free advertising for them. 😁)
Another option is to try a ‘pasta’ made out of hearts of palm, spaghetti squash, or Shirataki for a lower carb alternative.
There’s nothing wrong with these options other than that they won’t fool anyone as pasta. My kids wouldn’t eat it nearly as readily, and the whole point of spaghetti night is to make an easy dinner, which is why we stick with the protein pasta.
3. Upgrade the Sauce
I still use a jarred sauce because I want this to be quick, but I have some prerequisites. The sauce must have:
Olive oil (rather than other oils most sauces use)
No added sugar (or it’s low on the ingredients list)
Less than 2g saturated fat per serving
Less than 350-400 mg sodium per serving
I also add some ingredients to make the jarred sauce taste better (which you’ll see in the recipe). It’s easy enough that even Seth (my husband) can make it, and he’ll be the first to admit that that’s saying something.
4. Add Veggies
I know some people count spaghetti sauce as a veggie already. But I still add more. (Most people massively under-eat veggies, so it really never hurts to add a veggie to a meal.)
Usually, that just means sautéing some diced onions and mixing it in the sauce. It adds flavor and hides the veggies. If your kids won't tolerate onions in the sauce then just add a quick steamed veggie on the side.
Now that you know the upgrades, you can either make those small improvements to your own recipe, or just follow mine. Here it is…
1 large or 2 medium onions, diced
1 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil
Jar of pasta sauce
8 Oz tomato sauce
1.5 pounds ground meat
1-2 tbsp beef better than bouillon
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1-2 tsp dried oregano
1-2 tsp dried rosemary
Put a large saucepan on medium heat and add 1 tbsp of avocado oil or olive oil.
Add the diced onions, then fry for 10 mins. Stir the veg often until it softens.
Increase the heat to medium-high, add the ground meat and cook stirring for 3-4 mins until the meat is browned all over.
Add the jarred pasta sauce, dried oregano, rosemary, better than bouillon, soy sauce, and red wine vinegar. Stir until mixed.
Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer and cover with a lid.
Boil a large pot of water and cook the noodles according to the package instructions.
Drain the pasta. Serve a cupped hand as one serving of carbs for pasta, spoon 1-2 fist fulls of the sauce over top.
Enjoy and let us know how it goes!