Putting a Spin on a Classic Dish

Written by Shane Himes
Part of National Nutrition Month 2014

Growing up, spaghetti and meatballs were a staple meal in our home. We would eat this classic dish at least once a week. I say at least once a week because I love left over spaghetti! Next time you have leftovers try my personal favorite, a spaghetti sandwich. My grandmother used regular white flour pasta noodles, ground beef for the meatballs, and an amazing homemade tomato sauce.

A few months back, I decided to make a healthier and tastier alternative to this classic dish.

  • I used brown rice pasta instead of white flour noodles. Switching to whole grain products instead of white flour products (such as the noodles most Americans use to make spaghetti) offers numerous healthy benefits. Some of these benefits include: lowering the risk of stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and can help maintain a healthy weight.
  • Instead of ground beef I used a 99% lean ground turkey breast for the meatballs, which cuts down on the fat content of the meal. I based my meatballs on a recipe I found on food.com.
  • I used store bought sauce because of time constraints, but I did add fresh chopped garlic to it.
  • I added fresh roasted vegetables to make the dish more nutrient dense and more filling. I roasted the vegetables al dente to add some texture to this meal. To add flavor to the vegetables I use cayenne pepper and cumin, but pick your favorite spices and get creative.
  • As a final twist to this dish I added slices of avocado which adds a touch of coolness to the warm spaghetti.
  • Making a big pot will guarantee you left overs for several days which is wonderful for college students or busy families.
healthy adaptation of classic spaghetti and meatballs

Image by Shane Himes

Recipes :

Vegetable: For the veggies I started by lightly drizzling olive oil onto the chopped vegetables that are on a cookie sheet. Season and place in oven at 375 degree F for 15-20 minutes. Use any veggies you like, get creative and let me know what you come up with.

Turkey Meatballs: 3 cloves chopped garlic, 1lb 99% lean ground turkey, 1 egg, ½ cup bread crumbs. Mix ingredients, roll meatballs about 1 inch in diameter, using vegetable oil and a fry pan cook meat balls for 5-6 minutes.

Pasta: Boil to preference. (Or try using Spaghetti Squash!)

Sauce: Heat in sauce pan.


Katcher, H. (2004) Summary of Recent Research on Whole Grains and Health. Retrieved from https://wholegrainscouncil.org/files/WGResearchSummary_WGCJan09.pdf

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