No doubt this is the #1 favorite meal for most kids nowadays. Too bad it’s one of the most processed, chemical-filled junk foods we could be giving our kids. I was once excited to see an organic brand of mac and cheese, but a quick flip-over of the box had me disappointed again. True, it used more “real” ingredients, no chemicals, whole grains and all that jazz, but the sodium levels were still way too high. High sodium diets are not a good idea for adults, and especially not for kids.
I often get asked by moms, “K, I get how to eat healthy now, but what am I supposed to do about the fact that my child ONLY wants to eat mac and cheese?” I’ve been working on a solution for quite a while, and my kids turned their nose up at several variations until I finally found one that works for us.
Pictured above, we have our plain ol’ mac and cheese. By the looks of it, your kids will dive right in. They may or may not notice that it does taste different, but not too different. It still has a cheesy flavor and a rich creaminess. Once they’ve had this dish a couple of times, branch out a little bit to make it even more nutritious.
For example, (this took some transitioning into) my kids will now happily eat this healthy mac and cheese recipe if it’s made with colorful curly pasta (a mix I found at the store that is 100% whole grain, and colorful because the green noodles have spinach added, the red noodles have beets added, etc.) tossed together with steamed peas and tiny broccoli florets.
So moms, THAT’S what you do with your kid’s mac and cheese addiction 🙂
This recipe is allergy-friendly, vegan friendly, and very versatile. So here we go:
2 cups uncooked pasta of any variety
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or whole, organic/raw milk)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast*
1 Tbsp vegan butter replacement**(or organic butter)
1 T flour (any type of very fine flour)
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
*nutritional yeast is a yellow flaky looking thing found in the bulk food section of your health food store. It has a very nutty, cheesy flavor. It’s an inactive yeast, which means it’s not really going to contribute to yeast growth in your body. It’s yummy sprinkled on popcorn, garlic bread, in pasta sauce, etc. It’s super high in vitamin B12, and has some protein.
**note on butter replacement many of these contain processed soy, but you should be able to find one without soy in it. Earth Balance has one variety without soy that works great in this recipe.
Start cooking the pasta according to the package directions. While it’s cooking, you should have plenty of time to make the sauce and even steam a few handfuls of frozen veggies to toss in at the end if you want. To make the cheese sauce, add the butter to a small sauce pan on medium heat. While it’s melting, whisk together the milk and flour, and add the milk mixture to the butter as soon as it’s melted. Stir and then add all the remaining ingredients. Whisk it for about 3-5 minutes or until it thickens. You can stop whisking to check the pasta, drain it, check the optional veggies, etc… on medium/low heat, it’s not going to burn very easily.
I like the ease of this meal, because usually everything is “done” at the exact same time. Drain your noodles, pour in the sauce, stir it up and serve.
I often make a double batch of the cheese sauce, to keep some of it in the fridge for several days. It’s yummy to reheat (add a little water, because it will thicken) and dip in raw or steamed veggies.
This recipe was inspired by Angela Liddon at ohsheglows.com. I made some adjustments to it so that my kids would love it, although her version is very delicious for adults!