Spaghetti & Garden Balls

One of my kids’ favorite meals is “slurpy noodle” aka linguini or spaghetti pasta. My 4-year-old loves pasta with vegan butter, while my 2-year-old loves sauces with pasta. So spaghetti night works for everyone. If I’m looking for a wheat-based pasta, my favorite is the organic linguini from Thrive Market. It is a product of Italy and made from 100% Organic Durum Wheat Semolina. If I am looking to add more nutrition to the dish, then I will reach for Banza’s chickpea pasta or Explore Cuisine lentil spaghetti. Both have a wonderful flavor and texture.

It is also a nice way to had some leafy greens to dinner. Whether you choose kale or spinach, either can be chopped to tiny pieces and added to an organic, oil-free marinara or pasta sauce. We also will chop up any leftover artichoke hearts, mushrooms, olives, onion, and carrots. Another easy way to add some nutrients to the sauce is by adding riced cauliflower or broccoli.

I’ve read that hiding veggies is not the best way to expose children. Kids need to see the vegetable and know that it is on their plate for multiple times (anywhere from 5-15 times!). So how to you expose them and have a finely chopped mix of veggies in your sauce? Let them be a part of the prepping! We have metal children utensils and a couple of kid-friendly knives- I’ll link below. Mushrooms are soft and easy to grip, so little hands have an easier time chopping them. As the child advances their skills, a zucchini is a nice vegetable for practice, especially with a chopping knife. Adult supervision should always take place when a child is using a sharp object. Eventhough the chopping knives are considered extremely safe, our little one has cut himself on one of them before. It was a very minor cut and barely needed a bandaid, but best to make you aware as a more serious injury is always possible.

Raising Vegan Tip- Interested in the Gardein Meatless Meatballs, but not in the mood for pasta? No problem. Grab a whole wheat vegan tortilla or pita, spread delicious hummus, layer on fresh spinach, and top with chopped (cooked) garden balls. Tada! You have a tasty wrap perfect for lunch or dinner. You can also add sauteed mushrooms, olive, and capers. Yum!

Really with the right sauce and seasoning most vegetables will be a welcomed addition. The vegetable marinara sauce paired with a nice chickpea or lentil pasta is a satisfying and complete meal. However, if you are in the mood for a more traditional spaghetti and “meat”balls, then I recommend adding Gardein Meatless meatballs. These can be prepared in the oven or via air fryer. Watch them closely if using an airfryer, as they can dry out a bit or stick. Below, I’ve shown the Nutrition Facts for those interested. These are not considered to the a whole-food plant-based product as they are processed. We try to limit our consumption of processed foods as much as possible, but if you are transitioning to veganism, or just trying it out the processed vegan foods are healthier than consuming meat. Not to mention the effects the meat industry has on our planet.

We like to stir the garden balls into the sauce mixture. Our 2-year-old enjoy a single bite of them (chopped into fourths). Overall this is an easy, quick, and satisfying meal! I hope you enjoy it and pass it on to your friends that may be needing a Meatless Monday meal!


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