Now that my son is getting older I'm looking for healthier alternatives to some of the foods that I loved at his age. Things like Chicken Soup with Stars and Spaghetti O's were staples as I was growing up and those same foods were what I turned to in college when I wanted a comforting meal that was quick, easy, and didn't require a kitchen. These days I tend to make much healthier choices, both for myself and my family, but I still long for the days of fun-shaped pasta drenched in a sweet and salty tomato cheese sauce.
The good news is that making a healthy, homemade version of this classic food isn't much more difficult than opening a can. It's even made with ingredients most of you will already have on hand. If you're looking for a fun, yet healthy meal you and your kids will love, give these homemade spaghetti O's a shot.
Homemade Spaghetti O's
makes 2 - 4 servings
1 tablespoon salted butter
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
16 ounces tomato sauce (I used Red Gold)
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 cups ring shaped pasta
- In a saucepan add butter, milk, and cheddar cheese. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until the butter and cheese has melted completely. Add tomato sauce and paprika, then allow to simmer while your pasta is cooking (approximately 8 - 10 minutes.)
- Cook pasta according to package directions, top with tomato cheese sauce, and serve immediately.
Both sharp and aged cheddar cheese has a tendency to separate and leave behind little lumps of cheese. If you have a little one who is particular about texture consider using mild cheddar or monterey jack instead.
Having trouble finding ring shape pasta? I was able to find Creamette brand rings at Target as well as our local grocery store, but you could use mini shells, alphabet noodles, or another small size pasta in its place.
For a healthy meal your child will love I recommend pairing this with one of our homemade apple sauces. Check out our recipes for easy crockpot applesauce, vanilla bean peach, strawberry, spiced blueberry, and gingerbread.
Out of all the products OXO has sent me over the years, this has ended up being one of my favorites. It's one of those things I wish I had when my son was still in diapers, but even though he's fully potty trained I still find it incredibly useful.
The storage pouch is large enough to hold roughly 5 diapers, 4 pairs of pull-ups, or several pairs of big-boy underwear. The wipes portion is a little on the small side, but it generally holds enough to get me through an entire day (as long as it doesn't involve spaghetti, at that point I find myself longing for a garden hose or a bath tub.)
What I love about this dispenser is that even after my little one is out of diapers it's still useful. My son is 4 and fully potty trained, but I still don't leave the house without wipes and a selection of small toys. The diaper portion of the dispenser is the size to hold a handful of hotwheels, a box of crayons, and a small notepad to keep my little guy occupied on shopping trips or long waiting lines.
As I said, it's incredibly useful.
The design of the flippy snack cup is absolutely genius, especially if you travel with your tot. The lid has a set of soft flaps that allows little ones to easily reach their snacks and those same flaps help keep snacks contained if the container is ever dropped or thrown.
What I don't like about this cup is the type of plastic it's made from. It's been my experience that hard plastic cups such as this one don't hold up to the long-term abuse of a toddler, especially if you have a tile floor. I'd prefer to see it made of a different type of plastic that doesn't scratch or break as easily, but if you have carpet it's a nice solution to keep snacks up off the floor.
I have a real love/hate relationship with my son's sippy cups and after trying out nearly a dozen different designs over the past four years I have enough opinions to fill an entire blog post. OXO’s straw cup really appeals to me for a number of different reasons, but it isn’t without its faults. I love the markings on the side that easily allow me to see how much milk I’ve poured into the cup. While I don’t control the portions of my son’s drinks, I do like to keep track of how much he’s had, especially on a warm summer day. This is the only cup I’ve owned that has measuring marks and I absolutely love this feature.
I did mention that this cup isn’t without its faults and for me, one of the huge negatives is the design of the lid—it’s made of multiple pieces that don't disassemble. The simple fact is, at some point or another, if you are a parent you are going to lose a sippy cup only to find it a month later under the couch or in the car, full of moldy milk. This is a frequent occurrence in our house which is why it’s so important that the lid can be completely disassembled and cleaned. If you doubt me on this, do a google image search for moldy sippy cup, the results are absolutely disgusting.
For this reason alone I’m less inclined to buy a cup I can’t take apart completely, but at least this cup does have a replaceable straw (many brands don't offer replacements.) This is especially important when it comes to teething tots who will gnaw on squishy straws until there is nothing left.
This last item is one I consider a must-have, even if you don’t have tots. It’s great for cleaning reusable straws and not just those attached to sippy cups. The three piece set has a large, rounded cleaner which is the perfect size for cleaning around rims and other stubborn areas, a long cleaner for reusable straws, sippy cups, and travel water bottles, and a toothpick-style cleaner for removing stubborn, stuck-on food from small spaces. This handy tool is a real time saver!
Where to Purchase
OXO On-the-Go Wipes Dispenser w/ Diaper Pouch — OXO.COM or Amazon
OXO Flippy Snack Cup — OXO.COM or Amazon
OXO Straw Cup (7 oz.) — OXO.COM or Amazon
OXO Cleaning Set for Straws and Sippy Cups — OXO.COM or Amazon
This post contains my Amazon affiliate links. I try to keep advertising unobtrusive and to a minimum in order to provide you with the best experience possible. Purchases made through these links provide me with a small income and ensure I can continue providing you with quality content.
Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of the Spring Forward with OXO Tot blogger outreach campaign. They have provided me with a set of tools from their OXO Tot line, but no other compensation was given for this post.