Cooking with Kait: Veggie Spaghetti

Editor’s note: This article was written by daughter-mother team, Kait and Meghan Stott,

Cooking, making meals for loved ones and friends, is a huge tradition in our family and something I have been sharing with my daughter, Kaitlin. I know plenty of adults with visual impairments who cook and manage their own households, so I knew Kaitlin’s visual impairment did not need to be a barrier to her in the kitchen. I’ve also learned that her vision needs some adaptations, new kitchen tools, lots of explanations and guided practice, patience, trust, and sometimes a bit of additional creativity. Kaitlin has been cooking with me, and now on her own, for quite a few years, and it shows in her confidence using kitchen tools and willingness to try new things. You can learn more about our experiences in the kitchen at Kids In the Kitchen and a past Family Connect blog post. 

We have definitely taught skills along the way, but there are many parts of the recipe below that even kids new to the kitchen will be able to do independently. You know your child’s needs best, so look for those opportunities based on your child’s age, vision needs, experience with kitchen tools, and accessibility needs due to other disabilities. Kaitlin’s love of cooking gives us a shared activity, has expanded her willingness to try new foods, and is empowering her on a path to prepare her own healthy meals for her own family and friends when she is an adult. 

When Kaitlin was about four years old, one of the very first meals Kaitlin and I cooked together was Veggie Spaghetti. Veggie Spaghetti was a meal inspired by Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood episode.  After watching the episode, Kaitlin was determined to make the spaghetti sauce herself. A win-win because I was excited to get more veggies in her diet and teach her to cook. This meal is fun to make with kids of all ages and all abilities. Kaitlin loves creating her own versions of our favorite recipes and this version is one of her adaptations and was a big hit with our family. We hope you and your family enjoy cooking and sharing this recipe as much as we do.

Veggie Spaghetti Recipe 

pictured: pasta sauce, assorted vegetables and pasta.
  1. Peel Carrots and onion 
  2. Chop Peeled onion 
  3. Heat 2 Tbsp of Olive Oil in 5 quart Pot in Medium-High heat 
  4. Add onions and saute 
  5. While onions are cooking chop your other vegetables and add to the onions as you go. 
  6. If the vegetables are cooking too quickly (meaning they are browning before you can add all of your vegetables), feel free to reduce the heat and/or add a couple of TBS of water to keep the vegetables from getting too dark.  The idea is to saute the vegetables, not roast the vegetables.  

Tools

Young girl with glasses chopping an onion.

  • Cutting Board 
  • Sharp Knife  or *child safety knife 
  • Vegetable Peeler 
  • *Food Processor or Food Chopper 
  • 5 quart Pot 
  • Kitchen timer  
  • Large print or tactile adapted measuring spoons and measuring cups 

*These tools are what make cooking accessible for kids of all ages and abilities.  You can also ask your child’s TVI for suggestions or support adapting tools you already have in your home.  When Kaitlin was too little to use a knife, the food chopper or food processor allowed her to quickly feel successful in meal preps without worrying about cutting her fingers in the process. We used a Pampered Chef food chopper, but you can easily use a food processor to pulse the vegetables until your vegetables are finely chopped.  

Assembly Process

Young girl with glasses using a chopping tool to chop carrots,
  1. Peel Carrots and onion 
  2. Chop Peeled onion 
  3. Heat 2 Tbsp of Olive Oil in a 5 quart Pot on Medium-High heat 
  4. Add onions and saute 
  5. While onions are cooking chop your other vegetables and add to the onions as you go. 
  6. If the vegetables are cooking too quickly (meaning they are browning before you can add all of your vegetables), feel free to reduce the heat and/or add a couple of TBS of water to keep the vegetables from getting too dark.  The idea is to saute the vegetables, not roast the vegetables.  
  7. After all the vegetables have been added, open your jar of Pasta sauce and add it to the pot. 
  8. Stir and Cover the pot, cooking over medium/low heat for at least 30 minutes.  This sauce can also simmer on the stove for several hours- which makes the sauce taste better. 
Young girl with glass scrapping vegetables off a chopping board with a knife
  1. Stir the sauce occasionally and make sure that the sauce is not cooking too fast.  Feel free to add a couple of tablespoons of water if the sauce is cooking down too fast 
  2. While Sauce simmers, boil a separate pot of water for the noodles and follow the cooking directions on the pasta package. 
  3. Serve Sauce over noodles 
Young girl with glasses pouring pasta sauce
Plate of pasta topped with sauce.

Alternative cooking methods: 

  1. CrockPot:  add all ingredients to a crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Stir and serve overcooked pasta noodles. 
  2. Instant Pot:  Saute the onions in olive oil using the saute button.  Once onions are sauteed, switch to off and add the remaining ingredients.  Lock the lid and cook on high pressure for 8 minutes.  When the timer goes off, the sauce can either be slow or quick released.  Stir and serve over pasta.  
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