Taco spaghetti

By changing a few of the ingredients of your favorite recipes, you can make them slightly healthier and enjoy them, even if it's just once-in-a-while.

As I write this on Monday afternoon, there is heavy snow coming down, with no end in sight. Maybe because it’s the first real snowstorm of the season for me — I was at my son’s during the Christmas storm and all we had there was torrential rains and winds — but there is a sense of rightness to it.

Although I really, really don’t like winter, I have to admit the snow-covered trees are beautiful. The city plows have been down our street several times, neighbors are shoveling and snow blowing off walks, and it’s almost like a Currier and Ives portrait.

There’s something warm and cozy about a snow day — even if you’re semi-retired and have nowhere demanding to go. I’ve been hunkering down on the couch under a warm blanket the kids gave me for Christmas, a mug of hot cocoa and marshmallows at hand, and binge-watching season two of “Bridgerton” on Netflix.

I’m still in a meaningful relationship with my air fryer. Vegetables in it are incredible! I tried Brussels sprouts the other night, mixing them in a bowl with a little olive oil, garlic powder and pepper, and then drizzling them with balsamic glaze before eating them. I’ve also done baby carrots and fresh green beans. So good!

However, after nearly three months avoiding foods that are high in calories, fat and sodium, I am really craving some of my old favs, like pizza, grinders and chips. I also am regretting my divorce from two of my favorite guys, Ben and Jerry. While searching in my recipe box for a fairly non-diet-busting comfort dish that would satisfy my cravings, I found an oldie but goodie — Taco Spaghetti. The sad news is that I need to go to the market and pick up some of the ingredients, so my cravings will be raging until after the storm.

My game plan is to substitute whole wheat spaghetti or spaghetti squash for the regular spaghetti, get 93-percent lean ground beef, low-fat cheddar cheese and reduced-sodium taco seasoning. And, of course, there will be no cilantro — at least not on mine!

TACO SPAGHETTI

Servings: 6

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound ground beef

1/4 cup yellow onions

1/4 cup taco seasoning (1 packet)

10 ounces Rotel tomatoes

8 ounces spaghetti noodles, uncooked

3 cups water

4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

DIRECTIONS

Heat olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat.

Brown ground beef and onion in the skillet until the meat is no longer pink and onions are soft and translucent.

Add the taco seasoning, Rotel tomatoes (including juice), spaghetti noodles and water.

Bring to a boil over high heat. Once the water comes to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove from heat. Sprinkle half of the cheese into the pan and stir to distribute the cooked spaghetti and cheese throughout the pan.

Top with remaining cheese and cilantro. Serve.